56. Memorandum from the Commission
for Local Administration in Wales
I refer to the letter dated 21 March 2002 from
Mr Paul Evans, the Clerk to the Joint Committee on Human Rights,
in which he sets out a number of questions to which the Joint
Committee on Human Rights would like answers. I set out below
some brief answers to those questions. Further information about
the role of this Commission can be found on the Commission's website,
the address of which is www.ombudsman-wales.org If you
require any additional information or comment from me please let
The answers to the specific questions are as
1. Not expressly, but my role as Commissioner
for Local Administration in Wales is to consider and if necessary
investigate complaints from the public that they have suffered
injustice as a result of maladministration. My jurisdiction derives
from the Local Government Act 1974 which does not define "maladministration",
but I would consider a breach of the complainant's human rights
as amounting to maladministration. There are however a number
of restrictions on my jurisdiction although in some instances
I have a discretion to set aside that restriction. For example,
I am unable to conduct an investigation in respect of any matter
in respect of which the person aggrieved has or had a remedy by
way of proceedings in any court of law, although I may conduct
an investigation notwithstanding that restriction if I am satisfied
that in the particular circumstances it is not reasonable to expect
the person aggrieved to resort or to have resorted to such proceedings.
Some allegations of breaches of a complainant's human rights might
well be issues which should properly be made the subject of court
Since earlier this year I also have additional
jurisdiction under the Local Government Act 2000 to investigate
allegations that a member of a relevant authority in Wales has
breached that authority's code of conduct. Such codes of conduct
have to incorporate the provisions of a model code of conduct
published by the National Assembly for Wales. Breaches of that
code of conduct might well, in a particular instance, also amount
to a breach of the complainant's human rights (unlawful discrimination
for example) but again that is not its express purpose.
2. Not expressly. In any event, my role
is to investigate complaints and allegations made by individuals
not to make an assessment of general performance. In a case where
injustice has been caused by maladministration I can recommend
administrative changes so that the injustice and the maladministration
do not recur.
3. Not applicable.
4. Not expressly, but statistics published
in the annual report may disclose incidentally cases of injustice
caused by maladministration which may help to assess that performance.
6. Not applicable.
7. In assessing whether there has been maladministration
which has caused injustice to a complainant, I take into account
whether the authority concerned has complied with current human
rights legislation. However, in most instances issues of that
kind would be for the courts to determine rather than for me.
26 March 2002