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Committee proposes new structures to tackle public service complaints

Synopsis: The Assembly debated the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister report on its proposals for a new office of a Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman (NIPSO).

Session: 2013/2014

Date: 16 September 2013

Reference: COFMDFM 01/13/14

The Northern Ireland Assembly today debated the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister report on its proposals for a new office of a Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman (NIPSO).

This proposed new office will combine the offices of the Assembly Ombudsman for Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Complaints.

The Committee's proposals to introduce legislation to update these offices come after a review by the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister which has welcomed the Committee's action.

Chairperson of the Committee, Mike Nesbitt MLA said: "These proposals are the first step in drafting the first ever statutory Committee Bill and is a very clear demonstration of how Committees play a key role in making legislation which will benefit the public."

Deputy Chairperson, Chris Lyttle MLA said: "Combining these two offices will provide greater clarity on who will investigate complaints about public services. The Committee's proposals mean that the public can enjoy wider access to the services of an Ombudsman and will also ensure that the Ombudsman will be accountable to the Assembly."

Following extensive consultation, the Committee reported on its proposals for the merger of these offices. Following the debate on the report and with the approval of the Assembly, the next step will be to prepare draft legislation to enable the merger of the offices taking into account the views expressed in the consultation and equality, financial and legislative implications.

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