The Public Accounts Select Committee has published a report on Inspection in Home Affairs and Justice. The Report warns that current arrangements for appointing Chief Inspectors and for setting their budgets potentially pose a significant threat to their independence.
Another PASC Report, Investigating clinical incidents in the NHS, has recommended urgent and fundamental reform of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.
The Work and Pensions Select Committee has published a report on Benefit sanctions policy . The Report concludes that the current sanctions regime does not always operate in a way that is fair and proportionate, ensuring safeguards for the vulnerable, and mitigating against severe financial hardship. It recommends that the Department for Work and Pensions establish a broad independent review of benefit conditionality and sanctions, to investigate whether sanctions are being applied appropriately, fairly and proportionately.
The Joint Committee on Human Rights has published a Report on the UK’s Compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Report welcomes the progress made by the Government in recognising children’s rights in law and policy but also points to areas, including immigration, legal aid and custody, where policy developments have worked against the best interests of the child.
Regulations providing for implementation of the EU Alternative Dispute Resolution Directive were laid before Parliament on 17 March 2015. The regulations cover requirements for ADR providers and the bodies that approve them. The deadline for implementing the Directive is 9 July 2015. Before then, the UK must designate the bodies to be ‘competent authorities’, with the power to approve providers of ADR.
The High Court has quashed the regulations that introduced conditional funding for judicial review, following its judgment that the Lord Chancellor’s decision to introduce them was irrational. However new regulations were laid three days later that would re-impose conditional funding, the only difference being that the new regulations provide two additional grounds for permitting payment.
The Supreme Court has ruled that the Attorney General acted unlawfully in blocking the release of correspondence sent by Prince Charles to Government departments under section 53 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
The Supreme Court has held that legislation that imposes a cap on welfare benefits for claimants in non-working households does not violate their ECHR rights. Although the provisions of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 result, indirectly, in differential treatment of men and women in the peaceful enjoyment of their possessions, the cap is a proportionate means of meeting legitimate aims.
The High Court has ruled that the ECHR applies to situations where Iraqi civilians were shot during operations conducted by British Soldiers.
The Cabinet Office has published a consultation on reform of public services ombudsmen in England.
The Welsh Assembly’s consultation on reform of the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales came to an end on 20 March. Responses to the consultation have been published on the website.
The Treasury have set up a new telephone guidance service, Pension Wise, to be regulated by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. The Treasury have explained that the PHSO will play this role, rather than the Financial Ombudsman Service, because the guidance is not considered ‘financial advice’.
The Treasury and the Department for Communities and Local Government have published a consultation on improvements to compulsory purchase processes, which seeks views on proposals aimed at making the regime clearer, fairer and faster.
DCLG has also published a discussion paper on Parking Reform: tackling unfair practices. The paper invites submissions and evidence relating to the management and regulation of parking on private land, and land owned by private bodies.
The Low Commission on the Future of Advice and Legal Support has published a follow-up Report to its 2014 report Tackling the Advice Deficit.
The APPG on Refugees and the APPG on Migration have published a Report of the Inquiry into the use of Immigration Detention in the United Kingdom. The Report recommends that there should be a 28 day time limit on immigration detention, and that detention should be very rare and alternatives should be utilized more readily. It also concludes that healthcare professionals dealing with mentally ill detainees do not have the training or resources necessary to identify and treat mental illness in detention.