Joint Committee On Human Rights Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

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 If you require any additional information or comment from me please let me know.

  The answers to the specific questions are as follows—

  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 proceedings.

  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.

  5.  No.

  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

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