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Lord Whitty moved Amendments Nos. 308 to 313:



    Page 22, line 42, leave out ("their members") and insert ("the members and co-opted members of such authorities").


    Page 22, line 42, at end insert (", and


(c) may arrange for any such guidance to be made public").


    Page 22, line 45, at end insert ("under this subsection").


    Page 23, line 5, leave out ("their members") and insert ("the members and co-opted members of such authorities").


    Page 23, line 5, at end insert (", and


(c) may arrange for any guidance so issued to be made public").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 40, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 3 [Standards Boards]:

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 314:


    Page 46, line 23, leave out from ("person") to ("an") and insert ("may not be employed as").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 314A:


    Page 46, line 26, after ("is") insert ("or has within the previous three years been").

The noble Baroness said: I beg to move Amendment No. 314A and I shall not yield to the temptation to say, "moved formally". Paragraph 3 of Schedule 3 sets out certain disqualifications to being appointed as a member of a standards board. Those include being a member or an officer of a local authority. The amendment seeks to extend the disqualification to include membership or having been an officer within the previous three years. I take the point that it would be inappropriate for a current member or officer to serve on a standards board. Obviously there might be conflicts of interest and criteria must be laid down that will enable the public to know that the right thing is not only being done but is being seen to be done. I believe that that should include recent past membership or postholding.

One carries one's personal baggage, but it diminishes in size as time goes on. Nevertheless, recent membership might give an individual a particular slant on affairs which would not be appropriate for a member of a standards board. In particular, I believe that the public would expect to see those with recent local authority membership being disqualified.

Lord Whitty: The Government feel that personal baggage can be positive as well as negative and that the amendment tabled in the name of the noble Baroness would be unduly restrictive. The problems she envisages have already been provided for in Clause 43(3), which states that an ESO cannot conduct an investigation in relation to a member of an authority if within the past five years that ESO has been a member of an authority. Clause 43(4) provides that an ESO who is directly or indirectly interested in any matter likely to be the subject of an investigation must disclose that interest to the standards board and must not take part in the

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investigation. Therefore, the issue of abuse is already covered. I believe that it will be unduly restrictive to exclude anyone who has had recent experience of membership or employment by a local authority from the possibility of being appointed an ESO. I hope that the noble Baroness will accept that.

Baroness Hamwee: I was not seeking to deal with a particular interest or involvement. Of course, I accept what the Minister said, but it does not address the point that I was making. I believe that a little gap gives greater objectivity. However, that is another point of disagreement between ourselves and the Government. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Whitty moved Amendments Nos. 315 to 319:


    Page 46, line 27, leave out ("(by co-option) of a committee") and insert ("of a committee, sub-committee, joint committee or joint sub-committee").


    Page 47, line 20, leave out ("case").


    Page 47, line 23, leave out ("case").


    Page 47, line 27, leave out ("case").


    Page 47, line 41, leave out ("Secretary of State") and insert ("National Assembly for Wales").


    Page 48, line 36, leave out ("local") and insert ("relevant").


    Page 48, line 36, leave out ("(or a member by co-option of a committee)").


    Page 48, line 37, at end insert ("or


(b) a member of a committee, sub-committee, joint committee or joint sub-committee of that authority").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Schedule 3, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 41 [Written allegations]:

Lord Whitty moved Amendments Nos. 320 to 323:


    Page 23, line 9, leave out ("members") and insert ("co-opted member").


    Page 23, line 10, leave out first ("have") and insert ("has").


    Page 23, line 16, leave out ("members") and insert ("co-opted member").


    Page 23, line 16, leave out ("have") and insert ("has").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 323A not moved.]

Clause 41, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 42 [Functions of ethical standards officers]:

Lord Whitty moved Amendments Nos. 324 to 329A:


    Page 23, line 26, leave out ("members") and insert ("co-opted member").


    Page 23, line 26, leave out ("have") and insert ("has").


    Page 23, line 34, leave out ("members") and insert ("co-opted member").


    Page 23, line 34, leave out first ("have") and insert ("has").


    Page 24, line 4, leave out ("standards committee") and insert ("monitoring officer").


    Page 24, line 7, after ("referred") insert ("to").


    Page 24, line 8, leave out ("case").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

1 Feb 2000 : Column 217

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 329B:


    Page 24, line 8, at end insert ("falling within section 50(1)").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 329B and the other amendments referred to in this group. The Committee will recall that Part III was fortunate to be considered in draft by the Joint Committee chaired by the noble Lord, Lord Bowness. One of the recommendations of that committee was that the power of interim suspension currently vested in the ethical standards officer should be reserved to the adjudication panel, where appropriate, on application from the ESO. Government Amendment No. 329B and the amendments grouped with it give effect to that recommendation, making consequential amendments to the Bill where necessary. I commend this group of amendments which implement the Joint Committee's recommendations.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 42, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 43 [Conduct of investigations]:

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 330:


    Page 24, line 11, after ("member") insert ("or co-opted member").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton moved Amendment No. 330A:


    Page 24, line 14, at end insert--


("(2A) An ethical standards officer to whom an investigation under section 42 is assigned may--
(a) cease the investigation at any stage before its completion, and
(b) refer the matters which are the subject of the investigation to the monitoring officer of the relevant authority concerned.").

The noble Baroness said: Amendments Nos. 330A and 344C concern the referral of cases from the ethical standards officer (ESO) of the standards board to the monitoring officer of the local authority and the action that a local authority may take on them. As Members of the Committee know, we agree with many of the recommendations made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Nolan, in his report--the third report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life. However, we have decided to go further than that report by establishing external independent investigation and adjudication. As the noble and learned Lord, Lord Nolan, envisaged, we have assigned important roles to local authorities, through the adoption of codes of conduct and the establishment of standards committees. The draft Bill published in March did not, however, assign a role to local authorities in dealing with individual cases.

That issue was considered by the Joint Committee chaired by the noble Lord, Lord Bowness, and we are grateful for that consideration. The committee recommended that a,


    "power of temporary exclusion of members of the authority--perhaps for a period of up to four weeks--be given to the local standards committee".

1 Feb 2000 : Column 218

In their response to the Joint Committee, the Government accepted that there may be occasions when standards committees would wish to impose penalties on councillors but recognised that before conferring such powers, they would have to be assured that they would be exercised fairly and responsibly and dovetail with the statutory powers conferred on the adjudication panel.

Because it will be for the standards committees to establish their credentials within their councils before becoming involved in what are potentially more controversial matters and, as we pointed out in our Joint Committee response, we need to be confident that an authority's procedures are robust and fair, the provisions in these amendments will enable the role played by the standards committees to grow as the system evolves. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

11.30 p.m.

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 331:


    Page 24, line 16, leave out ("members") and insert ("co-opted member").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 331A and 331B not moved.]


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