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

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Restrictions on disclosure of information.     46. - (1) Information obtained by ethical standards officers under section 45 must not be disclosed unless one or more of the following conditions is satisfied-
 
 
    (a) the disclosure is made for the purposes of enabling the Standards Board for England, the Standards Board for Wales, an ethical standards officer of either of those Boards or a case tribunal drawn from either of the Adjudication Panels to perform their functions under this Part,
 
    (b) the person to whom the information relates has consented to its disclosure,
 
    (c) the information has previously been disclosed to the public with lawful authority,
 
    (d) the disclosure is for the purposes of criminal proceedings in any part of the United Kingdom and the information in question was not obtained under section 45(2),
 
    (e) the disclosure is made to the Audit Commission for the purposes of any functions of the Audit Commission or an auditor under the Audit Commission Act 1998.
      (2) The Secretary of State or a relevant authority in England may give notice in writing to any ethical standards officer of the Standards Board for England with respect to-
 
 
    (a) any document or information specified in the notice, or
 
    (b) any class of documents or information so specified,
  that, in his or (as the case may be) their opinion, the disclosure of that document or information, or of documents or information of that class, would be contrary to the public interest.
 
      (3) The National Assembly for Wales or a relevant authority in Wales may give notice in writing to any ethical standards officer of the Standards Board for Wales with respect to-
 
 
    (a) any document or information specified in the notice, or
 
    (b) any class of documents or information so specified,
  that, in its (or as the case) may be their opinion, the disclosure of that document or information, or of documents or information of that class, would be contrary to the public interest.
 
      (4) Where notice is given under subsection (2) or (3) to an ethical standards officer, any document or information specified in the notice, or any document or information of a class so specified, may not be disclosed by the ethical standards officer or any other person.
 
      (5) A person who discloses information in contravention of subsection (1) is guilty of an offence and liable-
 
 
    (a) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or
 
    (b) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to a fine or to both.
 
Reports
Reports.     47. - (1) Where an ethical standards officer determines in relation to any case that a finding under section 42(5)(a) or (b) is appropriate-
 
 
    (a) he may produce a report on the outcome of his investigation,
 
    (b) he may provide a summary of any such report to any newspapers circulating in the area,
 
    (c) he must send to the monitoring officer of the relevant authority concerned a copy of any such report, and
 
    (d) where he does not produce any such report, he must inform the monitoring officer of that relevant authority of the outcome of the investigation.
      (2) Where an ethical standards officer determines in relation to any case that a finding under section 42(5)(c) is appropriate he must-
 
 
    (a) produce a report on the outcome of his investigation,
 
    (b) refer the matters which are the subject of the investigation to the standards committee of the relevant authority concerned, and
 
    (c) send a copy of the report to the monitoring officer, and the standards committee, of that relevant authority.
      (3) Where an ethical standards officers determines in relation to any case that a finding under section 42(5)(d) is appropriate he must-
 
 
    (a) produce a report on the outcome of his investigation,
 
    (b) refer the matters which are the subject of the investigation to the president of the relevant Adjudication Panel for adjudication by a case tribunal, and
 
    (c) send a copy of the report to the monitoring officer of the relevant authority concerned and to the president of the relevant Adjudication Panel.
      (4) A report under this section may cover more than one investigation under section 42 in relation to a member or members of the same relevant authority.
 
      (5) An ethical standards officer must-
 
 
    (a) inform any member of the relevant authority concerned who is the subject of an investigation under section 42, and
 
    (b) take reasonable steps to inform any person who made any allegation which gave rise to the investigation,
  of the outcome of the investigation.
 
Interim reports.     48. - (1) Where they consider it necessary in the public interest, ethical standards officers may produce interim reports on investigations under section 42 conducted by them or on their behalf.
 
      (2) An interim report under this section may cover more than one investigation under section 42 in relation to a member or members of the same relevant authority.
 
      (3) Where the prima facie evidence is such that it appears to the ethical standards officer producing the interim report-
 
 
    (a) that the person who is the subject of the report has failed to comply with the code of conduct of a relevant authority,
 
    (b) that the nature of that failure is such as to be likely to lead to disqualification under section 52(3)(b), and
 
    (c) that it is in the public interest to suspend that person immediately,
  the interim report may conclude that that person should be suspended by the relevant authority concerned from being a member of the authority or any committee or sub-committee of the authority.
 
      (4) Where an interim report under this section contains such a conclusion as is mentioned in subsection (3), an ethical standards officer may give notice to the standards committee of the relevant authority concerned stating that the person concerned must be suspended as mentioned in subsection (3) for the period specified in the notice.
 
      (5) That period must not exceed six months or (if shorter) the remainder of the person's term of office.
 
      (6) An ethical standards officer may give a further notice or notices under subsection (4) if he considers that the person concerned should continue to be suspended.
 
      (7) A relevant authority must comply with any notice given to their standards committee under subsection (4).
 
      (8) The suspension of any person under this section is to cease to have effect on the day that a notice under section 52 is given to the standards committee of the relevant authority concerned with respect to that person.
 
      (9) A copy of any report under this subsection must be given-
 
 
    (a) to any member of the relevant authority concerned who is the subject of the report, and
 
    (b) to the monitoring officer of the relevant authority concerned.
      (10) An ethical standards officer must take reasonable steps to inform any person who made any allegation which gave rise to the investigation under section 42 of the conclusions of an interim report under this section.
 
      (11) A person who is suspended under this section may appeal to the High Court-
 
 
    (a) against the suspension, or
 
    (b) against the length of the suspension.
 
Adjudication Panels
Adjudication Panels.     49. - (1) There is to be panel of persons, known as the Adjudication Panel for England, eligible for membership of case tribunals.
 
      (2) There is to be a panel of persons, known as the Adjudication Panel for Wales or Panel Dyfarnu Cymru, eligible for membership of case tribunals.
 
      (3) The members of the Adjudication Panel for England are to be appointed by the Secretary of State on such terms and conditions as he may determine, and he must appoint, from among those members, a president and deputy president of the Panel.
 
      (4) The members of the Adjudication Panel for Wales are to be appointed by the National Assembly for Wales on such terms and conditions as it may determine, and it must appoint, from among those members, a president and a deputy president of the Panel.
 
      (5) The Adjudication Panel for England must include persons possessing such qualifications as may be determined by the Secretary of State.
 
      (6) The Adjudication Panel for Wales must include persons possessing such qualifications as may be determined by the National Assembly for Wales.
 
      (7) The president and deputy president of the Adjudication Panel for England are to be responsible-
 
 
    (a) for training the members of the Panel,
 
    (b) for issuing guidance on how case tribunals are to reach decisions.
      (8) The president and deputy president of the Adjudication Panel for Wales are to be responsible-
 
 
    (a) for training the members of the Panel,
 
    (b) for issuing guidance on how case tribunals are to reach decisions.
 
Case tribunals
Case tribunals.     50. - (1) Adjudications in respect of matters referred to the president of the relevant Adjudication Panel for adjudication are to be conducted by tribunals (referred to in this Part as case tribunals) consisting of not less than three members of the Panel.
 
      (2) The president of the relevant Adjudication Panel (or in his absence the deputy president) is to appoint the members of any case tribunal.
 
      (3) A case tribunal drawn from the relevant Adjudication Panel may conduct a single adjudication in relation to two or more matters which are referred to the president of the Panel for adjudication.
 
      (4) The president or the deputy president of the relevant Adjudication Panel may be a member of a case tribunal drawn from the Panel.
 
      (5) A member of the relevant Adjudication Panel may not at any time be a member of a case tribunal drawn from the Panel which is to adjudicate on a matter relating to a member or members of a relevant authority if, within the period of five years ending with that time, the member of the Panel has been a member or an officer of the authority or a member (by co-option) of a committee of the authority.
 
      (6) The Secretary of State may issue guidance with respect to the composition of case tribunals drawn from the Adjudication Panel for England.
 
      (7) The National Assembly for Wales may issue guidance with respect to the composition of case tribunals drawn from the Adjudication Panel for Wales.
 
 
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Prepared 26 November 1999