Local Government Bill [H.L.] - continued        House of Lords
PART III, CONDUCT OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT MEMBERS AND EMPLOYEES - continued

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Standards Boards
Standards Boards.     40. - (1) There is to be a body corporate known as the Standards Board for England.
 
      (2) There is to be a body corporate known as the Standards Board for Wales or Bwrdd Safonau Cymru.
 
      (3) The Standards Board for England is to consist of not less than three members appointed by the Secretary of State.
 
      (4) The Standards Board for Wales is to consist of not less than three members appointed by the National Assembly for Wales.
 
      (5) The Standards Board for England is to have the functions conferred on it under this Part and such other functions as may be conferred on it by order made by the Secretary of State.
 
      (6) The Standards Board for England-
 
 
    (a) must appoint employees known as ethical standards officers who are to have the functions conferred on them by section 42, and
 
    (b) may issue guidance to relevant authorities in England in relation to the conduct of their members.
      (7) The Standards Board for Wales is to have the functions conferred on it under this Part and such other functions as may be conferred on it by order made by the National Assembly for Wales.
 
      (8) The Standards Board for Wales-
 
 
    (a) must appoint employees known as ethical standards officers who are to have the functions conferred on them by section 42, and
 
    (b) may issue guidance to relevant authorities in Wales in relation to the conduct of their members.
      (9) Schedule 3 makes further provision in relation to each of the Standards Boards.
 
Written allegations.     41. - (1) A person may make a written allegation to the Standards Board for England that a member or members of a relevant authority in England have failed, or may have failed, to comply with the authority's code of conduct.
 
      (2) If the Standards Board for England considers that a written allegation under subsection (1) should be investigated, it must refer the case to its ethical standards officers.
 
      (3) A person may make a written allegation to the Standards Board for Wales that a member or members of a relevant authority in Wales have failed, or may have failed, to comply with the authority's code of conduct.
 
      (4) If the Standards Board for Wales considers that a written allegation under subsection (3) should be investigated, it must refer the case to its ethical standards officers.
 
 
Functions of ethical standards officers
Functions of ethical standards officers.     42. - (1) The functions of ethical standards officers of the Standards Board for England are to investigate-
 
 
    (a) cases referred to them by the Board under section 41(2), and
 
    (b) other cases in which any such officer considers that a member or members of a relevant authority in England have failed, or may have failed, to comply with the authority's code of conduct and which have come to the attention of any such officer as a result of an investigation under paragraph (a).
      (2) The functions of ethical standards officers of the Standards Board for Wales are to investigate-
 
 
    (a) cases referred to them by the Board under section 41(4), and
 
    (b) other cases in which any such officer considers that a member or members of a relevant authority in Wales have failed, or may have failed, to comply with the authority's code of conduct and which have come to the attention of any such officer as a result of an investigation under paragraph (a).
      (3) Each of the Standards Boards may make arrangements in relation to the assignment of investigations under this section to particular ethical standards officers.
 
      (4) The purpose of an investigation under this section is to determine which of the findings mentioned in subsection (5) is appropriate.
 
      (5) Those findings are-
 
 
    (a) that there is no evidence of any failure to comply with the code of conduct of the relevant authority concerned,
 
    (b) that no action needs to be taken in respect of the matters which are the subject of the investigation,
 
    (c) that the matters which are the subject of the investigation should be referred to the standards committee of the relevant authority concerned, or
 
    (d) that the matters which are the subject of the investigation should be referred the president of the relevant Adjudication Panel for adjudication by a case tribunal.
 
Investigations
Conduct of investigations.     43. - (1) An investigation under section 42 may be conducted in relation to a person even though he has ceased to be a member of a relevant authority.
 
      (2) An ethical standards officer may arrange for any person to assist him in the conduct of any investigation under section 42.
 
      (3) An ethical standards officer may not at any time conduct an investigation under section 42 in relation to a member or members of a relevant authority if, within the period of five years ending with that time, the ethical standards officer has been a member or an officer of the authority or a member (by co-option) of a committee of the authority.
 
      (4) An ethical standards officer who is directly or indirectly interested in any matter which is, or is likely to be, the subject of an investigation under section 42-
 
 
    (a) must disclose the nature of his interest to the Standards Board by which he is employed, and
 
    (b) may not take part in any investigation under that section which relates to that matter.
      (5) The validity of any acts of an ethical standards officer are not to be affected by any contravention of subsection (3) or (4) or paragraph 3(2) of Schedule 3.
 
Procedure in respect of investigations     44. - (1) The procedure for conducting an investigation under section 42 is to be such as the ethical standards officer considers appropriate in the circumstances of the case.
 
      (2) Without prejudice to subsection (1), the ethical standards officer must give any person who is the subject of an investigation under section 42 an opportunity to comment on any allegation that he has failed, or may have failed, to comply with the authority's code of conduct.
 
      (3) An ethical standards officer may, if he thinks fit, pay to persons who attend or furnish information for the purposes of an investigation under section 42-
 
 
    (a) such sums in respect of the expenses properly incurred by them, and
 
    (b) such allowances by way of compensation for the loss of their time,
  as may be determined by the relevant person.
 
      (4) In subsection (3) "the relevant person"-
 
 
    (a) in relation to an investigation under section 42 by an ethical standards officer of the Standards Board for England, means the Secretary of State, and
 
    (b) in relation to an investigation under section 42 by an ethical standards officer of the Standards Board for Wales, means the National Assembly for Wales.
      (5) The carrying out of an investigation under section 42 is not to affect-
 
 
    (a) any action taken by the relevant authority concerned, or
 
    (b) any power or duty of that authority to take further action with respect to any matters which are the subject of the investigation.
Investigations: further provisions.     45. - (1) An ethical standards officer, or a person authorised by such an officer, has a right of access at all reasonable times to every document relating to a relevant authority which appears to him necessary for the purpose of conducting an investigation under section 42 in relation to a member or members of the authority.
 
      (2) An ethical standards officer, or a person authorised by such an officer, may-
 
 
    (a) make such inquiries of any person as he thinks necessary for the purpose of conducting such an investigation,
 
    (b) require any person to give him such information or explanation as he thinks necessary for the purpose of conducting such an investigation, and
 
    (c) if he thinks necessary, require any person to attend before him in person for the purpose of making inquiries of that person or requiring that person to give any information or explanation.
      (3) Without prejudice to subsections (1) and (2), a relevant authority must provide an ethical standards officer, or a person authorised by such an officer, with every facility and all information which he may reasonably require for the purposes of conducting an investigation under section 42 in relation to a member or members of the authority.
 
      (4) An ethical standards officer, or a person authorised by such an officer, may under this section require any person-
 
 
    (a) to furnish information concerning communications between the authority concerned and any Government department, or
 
    (b) to produce any correspondence or other documents forming part of any such written communications.
      (5) No obligation to maintain secrecy or other restriction upon the disclosure of information obtained by or furnished to persons in Her Majesty's service, whether imposed by any enactment or by any rule of law, is to apply to the disclosure of information in accordance with subsection (4).
 
      (6) Where subsection (4) applies, the Crown is not to be entitled to any such privilege in respect of the production of documents or the giving of evidence as is allowed by law in legal proceedings.
 
      (7) Nothing in this section affects-
 
 
    (a) the restriction, imposed by section 11(2) of the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967, on the disclosure of information by the Parliamentary Commissioner or his officers,
 
    (b) the restriction, imposed by section 32(2) of the Local Government Act 1974, on the disclosure of information by any members or officers of the Commission for Local Administration in England or the Commission for Local Administration in Wales, or
 
    (c) the restriction, imposed by section 15 of the Health Service Commissioners Act 1993, on the disclosure of information by the Health Service Commissioner for England or the Health Service Commissioner for Wales, or by their officers.
      (8) To assist him in any investigation under section 42, an ethical standards officer may obtain advice from any person who in his opinion is qualified to give it and may pay to any such person such fees or allowances as he may determine with the approval of the relevant person.
 
      (9) In subsection (8) "the relevant person"-
 
 
    (a) in relation to an investigation under section 42 by an ethical standards officer of the Standards Board for England, means the Secretary of State, and
 
    (b) in relation to an investigation under section 42 by an ethical standards officer of the Standards Board for Wales, means the National Assembly for Wales.
      (10) Subject to subsections (5) and (6), no person may be compelled for the purposes of an investigation under section 42 to give any evidence or produce any document which he could not be compelled to give or produce in civil proceedings before the High Court.
 
      (11) A person who without reasonable excuse fails to comply with any requirement under this section is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.
 
      (12) In this section any reference to documents includes a reference to information held by means of a computer or in any other electronic form.
 
 
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Prepared 26 November 1999