Appointment of Ombudsman and Information Commissioner: Motions

I move the following motions:

That Dáil Éireann recommends Mr. Peter Tyndall for appointment by the President to be the Ombudsman.

and

That Dáil Éireann recommends Mr. Peter Tyndall for appointment by the President to be the Information Commissioner.

I will not require the 15 minutes allowed but will be happy to respond to any questions Deputies may have at the conclusion of our discussions.

I have much pleasure in recommending to the House that Mr. Peter Tyndall be appointed by the President to be the Ombudsman and Information Commissioner. The need for these appointments arises following the resignation of Ms Emily O'Reilly from both offices from 29 September 2013 on foot of her election by the European Parliament as European Ombudsman. Ms O'Reilly had served in both offices from June 2003, having been reappointed in 2009. The separate legislation which governs each of these offices specifies that the appointment is made by the President, but only after this House and the Seanad have passed resolutions recommending that a particular person be appointed. I can advise the House that the resolutions were passed in the Seanad earlier today. The appointments are for six years and can be renewed, but only by going through the same resolution and appointment procedure.

I would like to take the opportunity again to congratulate Ms Emily O'Reilly on her election as European Ombudsman and commend her on the work she did in this jurisdiction. The exemplary work she did stood her in good stead in securing the very difficult task of winning the votes of the majority of the European Parliament to be the European Ombudsman against stiff opposition, including from members of the Parliament itself. All Members of this House will wish Ms O'Reilly God speed in the new role she is undertaking.

The proposition before the House is to appoint Mr. Peter Tyndall. Mr. Tyndall is originally from Ireland and the Acting Chairman, Deputy Mathews will be pleased to note he is a Dub. He has retained close links with this country in his years abroad. He comes to this post with a wealth of relevant experience. He has been Ombudsman for Wales since 2008. His office deals with complaints concerning public organisations responsible for delivering services devolved to the Welsh Government from Whitehall, including health, social care housing and local government. He has devoted considerable effort to modernising the systems in his office with a view to providing prompt effective resolution of complex cases and to ensuring that his office acted as a catalyst for improvement in public services. In his tenure as Ombudsman for Wales, Mr. Tyndall was able to draw on decades of experience in various fields of public service in Wales. Before he became Welsh Ombudsman, he was Chief Executive of the Welsh Arts Council and prior to his work with the Arts Council, he was Head of Education and Culture for the Welsh Local Government Association. He enjoys very substantial respect among his ombudsman peers and recently served a two-year term as Chairman of the British and Irish Ombudsman Association and is a member of the World and European boards of the International Ombudsman Institute.

It sounds like the Minister is a fan of Mr. Tyndall.

I am simply outlining his curriculum vitae to the House.

He certainly has a great first name.

In Mr. Tyndall I am fully satisfied that we have a well qualified, experienced and suitable nominee for appointment as our next Ombudsman and Information Commissioner.

The practice in the past was for the relevant Minister to ask the Government to note the name of the proposed nominee prior to consultation with the leaders of the opposition parties and the resolution process. It was my view that the most satisfactory approach to this nomination process was to depart from that established practice and to invite expressions of interest for the appointment by public advertisement. This new procedure is the first of its kind in relation to this appointment and facilitated a wider consideration of potential appointees than would have been possible otherwise. Basically, we asked anybody who was interested to make an application in confidence. A total of 35 expressions of interest were received from individuals with a wide range of experience spanning both the public and private sectors and included journalists, public relations practitioners, serving Ombudsmen, public representatives, serving and retired public servants as well as legal and business professionals. This represented a very strong pool from which to select a nominee for appointment.

Having considered the personal and professional qualities set out in the invitation for expressions of interest, I submitted the name of Mr. Peter Tyndall as the nominee for appointment to the Government and the Government approve his nomination.

As the House is aware, Mr. Tyndall's name was then referred to the Public Services Oversight and Petitions Committee under the new provision within the Ombudsman (Amendment) Act 2012. He met the committee on 23 October last and indicated that he would bring an objectivity and clarity to the role. He also indicated that, as Information Commissioner, he would relish the opportunity to bring about the changes in the impending freedom of information legislation which will widen the number of bodies included and will improve access to information more generally. He is also committed to improving the performance of the offices.

I am fully confident that Mr. Tyndall will bring a great deal of prior experience and knowledge to these positions and I am happy to put forward these resolutions, namely that the House recommend Mr. Peter Tyndall for appointment by the President to be the Ombudsman and Commissioner for Information.

I welcome the opportunity to speak on the motions concerning the appointment of a new Ombudsman and Information Commissioner. I support the nomination of Mr. Tyndall for these posts. I hope there will not be a division in the House on this matter but if one is called, I will support the appointment of Mr. Tyndall.

I have listened carefully to the Minister and acknowledge that there have been some improvements in the appointment process. Regarding Mr. Tyndall himself, I acknowledge that he was the Ombudsman in Wales for a number of years. He is originally from Dublin, which is no harm. He was appointed as public service Ombudsman in Wales in 2008 after a selection procedure that was conducted by the Welsh Assembly itself. Ultimately, I would like to see such a procedure adopted by this House in the context of the next appointment of Ombudsman and Commissioner for Information, whereby people could apply for the posts to the House, perhaps through the Oireachtas Commission, a relevant Oireachtas committee or the line Department or some other mechanism of the House's choosing.

I would recommend that process for the appointment of the new Secretary General of the Oireachtas rather than a diktat coming from the Government.

It was good the Ombudsman-designate, Mr. Peter Tyndall, attended an Oireachtas joint committee last month. However, his appointment had already been decided by the Government, so he was in to be introduced rather than to be interviewed. It would be a much better practice if prospective candidates could be interviewed by relevant Oireachtas Members and public users of the offices in question. Despite the traditional shortcomings in the appointment process, I believe we have always got the right answer. I wish Ms Emily O’Reilly every success in her new role as European Ombudsman. It is a significant challenge and highlights the calibre of our people who can stand with the best anyone in the EU can offer. I recall meeting her predecessor, Mr. Kevin Murphy, here in the Oireachtas. The first Ombudsman, Mr. Michael Mills, was a county man of my own from Mountmellick. We have been well served by previous officeholders. I hope the same will happen with Mr. Peter Tyndall and, when he comes to retire, it will be acknowledged in the Chamber that he did a good job.

His role in Ireland will be larger than the one he had in Wales. He will also have to fulfil the role of the Information Commissioner, a separate, distinct and important function. I note there has been a slight reduction, 1%, in the office’s expenditure for next year. I hope Mr. Tyndall will be able to make ends meet with the limited resources available to him. We will have to take the cut on the chin and get on with it. The Ombudsman will be a member of the Commission for Public Service Appointments. While I suspect that role has been quiet in recent times, when the public sector recruitment embargo is lifted, it will become a busier part of the Ombudsman’s work.

The Ombudsman is also involved with the Constituency Commission. That is an important and different function. The commission needs to be removed from the cut and thrust of politics in the Chamber. While it examines population figures for constituency make-up on a factual, cold and hard basis, it should take into account the consideration of local geographic and social factors.

The key role for an Ombudsman is membership of the Standards in Public Office Commission, SIPO. Its role has increased enormously in recent times. It deals not just with donations to political parties but has greater levels of scrutiny in election expenditure. There has also been a reduction in the amounts that can be contributed to political parties. The commission deals with the auditing of the party leaders’ allowances. There will be legislation to ensure the Independent leaders’ allowance will be amended. This will apply to Independents in the Seanad too. For some curious reason, this had escaped public attention but the genie is now out of the bottle. I am happy the Minister will be introducing this legislation shortly.

It will be introduced this term.

The commission has been diligent in pursuing electoral candidates who have not reported their expenditure during elections and registering third parties involved in promoting a point of view during a campaign. We have a much regulated financial system for donations to and the expenditure of political parties and candidates.

It was intended that the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner would merge with the Information Commissioner. However, this was deferred some time ago due to external factors. Will the Minister inform us if it is still off the agenda? The role of the Data Protection Commissioner is increasing. Only today, I heard him again on the radio on his role with the many multinationals headquartered here in Ireland such as Google. I believe the two offices have separate and distinct roles.

In the past, it was proposed that the back office facilities of the Information Commissioner would be merged with those of the Ombudsman for Children. Has this been done already? I would be concerned with such an amalgamation as both offices have totally different tasks. Will the Minister inform us either at the end of the debate or through correspondence as to where this proposal stands? Where stands the legislation on foot of the passing of the children’s referendum last year?

Approximately 3,500 complaints are made to the Ombudsman each year, the largest number concern the Department of Social Protection, local authorities and the Health Service Executive. The Ombudsman legislation was amended last year to extend its remit to an additional 180 bodies which means it now covers over 300 bodies. One regret the outgoing Ombudsman, Ms Emily O’Reilly, had concerned her detailed investigation into the mobility allowance and motorised transport grant which highlighted it was in breach of legislation while it was operated in an inequitable and illegal manner. She felt the Government’s right response to a report such as that would be to deal with whatever was illegal and put the scheme on a proper footing. However, the Government took the worst-case option and abolished the scheme in its entirety. Anyone following this matter did not expect such a course of action and it needs to be dealt with.

The Office of the Ombudsman issues very few reports and becomes frustrated at the lack of response from Departments. I ask, as a matter of policy, that all Ministers ensure their Departments accept and fully implement any decision of an Ombudsman regarding a matter in their remit. If they have an issue, they should give it extra time and tease it out. The Office of the Ombudsman might make an incorrect legal interpretation but rather than having a stand-off, a report printed, a committee debate and a Department refusing to implement a decision, I would like to see those matters fully thrashed out and Departments agreeing to implement whatever recommendations come forth.

We spoke about extending the Ombudsman's role, and this is a key issue. I have just referred to the new legislation that extended the role, but, surprisingly, the postal services provided by An Post were removed from the Office of the Ombudsman's remit from 2 August 2011. Other An Post services including savings schemes and the issuing of television licences were removed from its remit from 1 November 2012. People who had complaints about these An Post services were able to go to the Ombudsman before but they are now dealt with by ComReg. Will the Minister outline the legal mechanism by which that was done? Was there a statutory instrument to remove an organisation from the Ombudsman's remit?

What other public bodies have been removed from the Ombudsman's remit recently of which the public might not be aware? What other cases are in the pipeline? We have a plethora of regulators. If ComReg has roles in these areas and the Ombudsman will not now have a role, we must examine whether we are satisfied that ComReg will be as independent as an Ombudsman would be in dealing with cases in that area.

The role of Information Commissioner is also a key function of Mr. Tyndall. I look forward to him having a good, robust and open approach to that. In her final report on 2012 earlier this summer Ms O'Reilly noted that there had been a 38% increase in the number of FOI reviews and applications by her office in 2012. It is good to see an increase and people using the office. We will have a detailed discussion on the FOI Bill on Committee Stage next week and I spent the past hour dealing with a number of amendments, all of which I hope will be taken on board by the Minister next week.

However, I will have to table a new amendment on a subject that I only researched today. In her report on 2012, Ms O'Reilly expressed disappointment at the decision of the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation to stop collating the statistics on FOI returns due to the unsustainable administrative workload. The Information Commissioner was consequently unable to publish information and provide a commentary in her annual report on FOI requests made to that public body in 2012. It is not good enough that a Department would say it does not have the time or resources for this. Maybe the Minister could take that particular point on board and address it in legislation, not to allow a Department to shove FOI to one side or into the waste paper bin if it so chooses.

We will have the FOI Bill coming next week. Mr. Tyndall will observe closely. I hope we will have abolished fees by the time he takes up his office. I hope Irish Water, a public body, will be under his remit. I hope the secrecy provisions embedded in several other items of legislation, and on which Ms O'Reilly disagreed with various Departments, will be changed on Committee Stage and that Mr. Tyndall will have a successful career in his office as Ombudsman and Information Commissioner on behalf of the public he serves.

I thank Deputy Fleming for his gracious patience with my faulty introduction on the timing.

Before dealing with the motion before us I acknowledge the tremendous work of Ms Emily O'Reilly. Her forthright and fearless approach to the role of Ombudsman ensured citizens were well served by her office. Our loss is Europe's gain and I have no doubt that Ms O'Reilly will play a critical role in making the Union more relevant to member state citizens in her new role as European Ombudsman. To echo the sentiment of my colleague, Deputy Mac Lochlainn, I thank Ms O'Reilly for her dedication and professionalism that was underpinned by her fundamental motivation that public services are delivered in a manner in which the rights of each and every citizen are vindicated.

On publication of her tenth and final annual report as Ombudsman Ms O'Reilly reflected that the financial constraint of the State is not an excuse for poor service, inequitable treatment or a denial of rights. She said that public bodies must work harder to eliminate the common causes of complaint to the Office of the Ombudsman. She also called on the Oireachtas to hold the Administration to account and insist that bodies take responsibility for their actions, to right wrongs where they are found, and change their services to avoid reoccurrence.

Similar sentiments were raised during the annual national seminar of the European network of Ombudsmen held recently in Dublin. The theme of this year's seminar was "good administration and the rights of citizens in a time of austerity", a very timely theme. Ms Ann Abraham, former Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman for England, told those gathered that she believed citizens have the right to expect good administration from their governments at all times, and even more so in a time of austerity. She observed that delivering good administration has been and remains an uphill struggle for governments whatever their persuasions, political stripes or economic contexts. She also noted that despite what governments say, good administration does not come easily or naturally.

The Minister and his Government partners would do well to take note of Ms O'Reilly and Ms Abraham's comments, and all those who advocate for citizens' rights. This Government needs to lift its gaze from the bottom line. Time and again I have raised this point with the Minister, and time and again the Minister's response has been limited and sometimes dismissive. That is not good enough. Citizens expect more, and they are correct in their expectation.

I have welcomed the Minister's legislative reforms in lobbying, Freedom of Information, which was cynically gutted by the previous administration, and legislation to protect whistleblowers. Plans to engage with the Open Government Partnership are positive and hold enormous potential for public administration in this State. Extending the remit of the Office of the Ombudsman is extremely welcome and long overdue. However, as I have stated before, these reforms, while welcome and timely, are not enough and do not indicate the type of ambitious reform and robust oversight our public bodies are capable of and our citizens need.

In the previous Government, Fianna Fáil failed the citizens of this State. They held us back from the type of reform many of us envisage. They introduced and held on tightly to the culture of a nod and a wink, and looking after one's own man. Fianna Fáil leader Deputy Martin sometimes likes to pretend he is the champion of a Fianna Fáil nua but this is not the case. Deputy Martin is as responsible for Fianna Fáil's failure to bring public sector reform and oversight into the 21st century as his former bosses Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen.

For now, the Minister needs to hear what Ms O'Reilly has said, and look to put in place the necessary long-term solutions to tackle ongoing shortfalls within the public sector. As already noted, the largest number of complaints to the Office of the Ombudsman relate to the Department of Social Protection.

For any of us doing constituency work on the front line, this does not come as a great surprise. The local authorities come in just behind social welfare. These two bodies, along with the HSE, receive the lion's share of complaints. We must ask why this is the case and what the Government and the Minister's long term strategy is to deal with this.

On behalf of Sinn Féin I commend the appointment of Mr. Peter Tyndall - a "dacent Dub", as noted by the Minister. He has an impressive CV by any standards and I welcome him to the post of Ombudsman and Information Commissioner. He has had a long career in public service and is well versed on the critical role of the Ombudsman, having held such a position for the past five years in Wales. I wish him every success and commend the Government on his selection, whatever the shortfalls in the selection process. I look forward to any and all engagements with Mr. Tyndall in his new role.

Like others, I wish the outgoing Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly, the best of luck in her new role in Europe. She has been an exemplary ombudsman, a fearless champion of people's rights who was genuinely and passionately concerned with vindicating the rights of ordinary citizens, even when dealing with controversial and difficult issues and up against the obstacle of the State and bureaucracy which were not always amenable to criticism and questioning. She pursued issues in a commendable and impressive way.

The work she did on the issue of the motorised transport grant and the mobility allowance was extraordinarily important in itself, but also in terms of its wider implications in highlighting a challenge for this or any Government. She highlighted the fact the State was breaking its own laws on equality, particularly for the infirm, the elderly and the disabled, because it believed it could not afford to vindicate those rights. That issue is still not resolved and when the Minister for Health came before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Public Service, Oversight and Petitions, he put up his hands and said the Department could not afford to give people their rights. This is extraordinary, particularly when we are talking about some of the most vulnerable people in society.

It is to Emily O'Reilly's great credit that she brought this issue to the fore. She had to do so against a HSE that did not want to know and that ignored her. The Government also ignored her, but she persisted and eventually forced the issue into the public domain. It remains a challenge for the Government to resolve the issue in a fair way. We were all shocked when the response to this anomaly was to abolish the scheme. The Government has said that the beneficiaries of the scheme will not suffer, but it has made it clear that it cannot afford to provide for the other people whom they fear may become beneficiaries. I agree with Emily O'Reilly, who was forthright on this, that rights are rights. If they are rights, the State must vindicate them and must find the resources to do so. Ms O'Reilly raised an important specific issue, but she also raised a serious challenge for this and any Government. We cannot talk about rights and then not provide the resources to vindicate those rights.

Emily O'Reilly was also forthright when talking about issues on which we need to direct a spotlight and areas that have been excluded from the remit of the Ombudsman, such as prisons and the asylum process. The situation with regard to the asylum process and the direct provision system is shocking. It is urgent that any Government that claims to be interested in the rights of citizens, equality and fair treatment for people resident in the State should deal with the unacceptable situation that pertains in the direct provision system. People, including families and children, are effectively non-people in this system. They have no rights and no proper recourse to justice. They are certainly not on an equal footing with residents of the State.

Children live in appalling hostel conditions year after year. They spend their childhoods in these places - reminiscent of a 21st century version of the Magdalen laundries and the residential institutions where terrible things were done to less well off women and young people. I believe we are allowing a system to persist in which we will discover the same sort of abuses and injustices are taking place. There is considerable evidence that this is the case. Emily O'Reilly was forthright in saying these areas should be subject to full scrutiny and should not be excluded from the remit of the Ombudsman.

The Minister has commended the work of the former Ombudsman, but is the Government going to take seriously her appeal that direct provision and the asylum process be examined and that there be full transparency and openness in this regard? I believe the direct provision system should be abolished, but those in the asylum process should have rights and justice afforded to them as it is afforded to any other human being. Human rights are rights that are without borders and it is important that the Government vindicate these rights. I hope Mr. Tyndall will follow up on those areas highlighted by Emily O'Reilly.

I wish Mr. Tyndall the best of luck. I am a member of the committee he attended, but I could not make the meeting. I am also a member of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform and, unfortunately, sometimes our meetings clash. His attendance was positive. However, the Minister is aware that questions have been raised about the process. Mr. Tyndall is on record as saying that for appointments such as these, selection, interview and appointment, as happens in Wales where he was Ombudsman, should be dealt with by the Parliament and not simply by the Executive.

It appears the Minister has made a very good choice, and anything I say which is critical or questioning is not in any sense to question the obviously very impressive credentials of Mr. Tyndall or, in this case, probably the Minister's choice, as being a good one. It is still nonetheless important to question the processes because whether things work out well or favourable from the point of view of the public and the public interest cannot be left to the whim of individuals. We need a process which is transparent and open with the widest public oversight of important appointments and decisions. There is a problem in terms of how these appointments happen and it should not be just left to the Minister to present us with his nomination. I do not know who are the other people who expressed interest when the Minister advertised the post, but I am sure there were other good, qualified people. There are serious and fair questions to ask about the nomination and appointment process and these are points Mr. Tyndall himself has raised publicly in the past.

Mr. Tyndall's credentials seem very impressive. He is obviously somebody who is respected by his peers. His range of experience seems very impressive in a diversity of areas in public service, from the arts to the position of Ombudsman itself and also in areas such as social care and housing, which is tremendously important given what other speakers have stated, that the biggest areas of complaints are in social protection and local authorities, and we might say many of the complaints, probably the majority, emanating from local authorities are in the area of housing, which is a real problem which I and others have raised many times. There are real problems about the provision of housing and the right to housing, and also issues to do with tenants' rights, which I raised with Emily O'Reilly and which I hope Mr. Tyndall will examine.

An area I would like to mention, if Mr. Tyndall is listening, is how we deal with antisocial behaviour and the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act. Antisocial behaviour is a very serious problem, and we must have a system to deal with it which protects the rights of all residents in local authority housing. An antisocial behaviour officer in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown admitted to me, with regard to a particular case in which I was helping to represent somebody, that he had been given what he described as draconian powers. Many people have examined these powers and lawyers believe they breach the European Convention on Human Rights because antisocial behaviour officers can simply designate, without proper due process, somebody as being antisocial where there is very little recourse for them. Often this may be absolutely fair, reasonable, just and in the best interests of estate management and other tenants, but in other cases there is real potential for an abuse and infringement of people's rights to due process and natural justice and to the right to housing itself. The area must be seriously examined so we vindicate the rights of tenants and human beings generally in the face of State bodies and local authorities.

Ms Emily O'Reilly was positive, as we all were at the committee when it was discussed, about the extension of the remit of the Ombudsman to up to 300 areas, and this is certainly a very positive development. In the area of freedom of information, which is connected, it is a real problem that there are certain exclusions, particularly with regard to semi-State bodies under the general heading of commercial sensitivities. Semi-State bodies are very important: people interact with them at many levels economically and they are big employers. They have many types of impacts on our society and it is deeply problematic that something which is fully publicly owned is at one remove from proper oversight and from where the public can get proper information from bodies such as harbour boards, Coillte and Irish Water in future. To my mind this is a problem and I do not accept the rather catch-all and vague term "commercial sensitivity" should insulate these very important public bodies from proper scrutiny and oversight and being subject to freedom of information legislation.

I wish Mr. Tyndall well in what is a very important role. Emily O'Reilly stated the office had managed to maintain with difficulty its service despite the cuts in its budget. I hope the Ombudsman's office will get the support it needs to discharge its role and support citizens dealing with problems in navigating the difficulties they may have with State agencies and public bodies.

I thank all Deputies who contributed. It is important not only that the House would endorse the nomination but that it would be an all-party nomination because it strengthens the hand of the incoming Ombudsman if this is the case. I am taken by the point made by Deputies Fleming and Boyd Barrett about the process. I wanted the process to be different. I am absolutely open to a different process and I invite the committee to examine it, perhaps based on the Welsh model. My problem is that many of the 35 people who applied are in significant public roles in the country and they might not be too keen on putting their names in the public domain. I am sure there must be a way around this. The committee might consider it. During the debate on the Ombudsman (Amendment) Act I stated I would prefer the Ombudsman to be an officer of the Parliament rather than of the Executive. This is why we wanted a committee to which the Ombudsman would report directly and not through a Department of State.

I will leave the appointment of the Secretary General here to another debate. I will introduce legislation on it as I promised. We have some work to do. Next week we will have an opportunity to debate freedom of information. I have a different view to Deputy Boyd Barrett on commercial semi-State bodies. Like me he supports the commercial semi-State bodies and I do not want them to be disadvantaged. We need to have a system which does not disadvantage them with regard to non-semi-State companies in their operation.

Deputy McDonald will be completely shocked because I very strongly agree with almost everything she stated. I attended the Open Government Partnership forum in London for two days last week. It was an exciting place to be. We might have a delegation at the next plenary session. There are now 61 countries involved and we are examining everything with regard to how open data works. I issued a statement that I want Ireland to be a leader on the default position being that all data should be in the public domain and not that one must run after it. Freedom of information legislation should be moot over time because data should be automatically available. Technical issues arise but this is where we should be going. Very experienced people spoke about the practicalities of whistleblowing and freedom of information.

It would be helpful if we all collectively engaged in that process.

With regard to Deputy Boyd Barrett's point on the expansion of the role, we have, as the Deputy rightly acknowledged, expanded the role of the Ombudsman. We have tripled the umbrella, if one likes, and I will need to talk to the new Ombudsman about how that is to be encompassed. There will be other roles, as has been pointed out - for example, the legislation that will be introduced to deal with the auditing of the party leader's allowance, although it will not be called that any longer; rather, it will be called the parliamentary support allowance. There will be additional work. It is similar to the position with the NTMA, which seems to get a whole lot of additional work bolted onto it, in that the poor Ombudsman seems to be getting a whole lot of work bolted onto the role as well. We need to structure that work.

In conclusion, there is a job of work to be done by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions. Perhaps we need to sit down with the Ombudsman, once the President receives our nomination and, presumably, acts upon it, to work out how we can construct a robust office of the Ombudsman and of the Information Commissioner in light of the Ombudsman's Welsh experience and the view he has of Ireland. I want to be as supportive of that as I can be.

Question put and agreed to.