Page last updated at 13:12 GMT, Friday, 27 May 2011 14:12 UK
Ombudsman

If a constituent believes that they have been unfairly treated by a government department then they can complain to their MP who may pass the complaint to the ombudsman.

The function of the ombudsman, officially called the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration, is to investigate these complaints and to report the findings to the department involved and the constituent's MP.

If the ombudsman finds that the constituent has been treated unfairly he will request that the department involved corrects their mistake, either with an apology or compensation. In the vast majority of cases the advice of the ombudsman is followed.

The ombudsman publishes an annual report to Parliament and his work is reviewed by the Select Committee on the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration.

There are separate ombudsmen for the National Health Service, Northern Ireland and Local Government.

The office was established in the 1960s and the name derives from a similar position in the Scandinavian countries.




More from BBC Democracy Live
Compare who does what across the UK and Europe
Our A-Z of words used in the business of politics
Discover what BBC Democracy Live has to offer you

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific