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Lord Whitty: My Lords, the noble Baroness shares with the House the reason for her amendment.

We accept that the change in the Commons would apply this sanction not only to ESOs but also to any other person. Therefore I think that the noble Baroness is right in saying that the provision is too widely drawn. If we accept the noble Baroness's amendment, we shall revert to the previous position. I therefore accept the noble Baroness's amendment.

On Question, Motion agreed to, and Commons Amendment No. 225 disagreed to accordingly.

COMMONS AMENDMENTS

226Clause 60, page 39, line 26, at end insert ("of the relevant authority concerned")
227Page 39, line 30, leave out ("that relevant authority") and insert ("the relevant authority concerned")
228Page 39, line 35, at beginning insert ("subject to subsection (3A)(b)")
229Page 39, line 38, leave out ("that relevant authority") and insert ("the relevant authority concerned")
230Page 40, line 3, at end insert--
("(3A) Where a person is no longer a member or co-opted member of the relevant authority concerned but is a member or co-opted member of another relevant authority in England--
(a) the references in subsections (1)(b), (c) and (d), (2)(c) and (3)(c) to the relevant authority concerned are to be treated as including references to that other relevant authority, and
(b) an ethical standards officer who reaches a finding under section 55(4)(c) must refer the matters concerned either to the monitoring officer of the relevant authority concerned or to the monitoring officer of that other relevant authority.")
231Page 40, line 5, after second ("members") insert ("(or former members of co-opted members)")
232Page 40, line 8, leave out ("member or co-opted member of the relevant authority concerned") and insert ("person")
233Clause 61, page 40, line 14, leave out subsection (1) and insert--
("(1) Where he considers it necessary in the public interest, an ethical standards officer may, before the completion of an investigation under section 55, produce an interim report on that investigation.")
234Page 40, line 19, after ("members") insert ("(or former members or co-opted members)")
235Page 40, line 23, leave out ("a relevant authority") and insert ("the relevant authority concerned")
236Page 40, line 25, leave out ("or (5)(b)")
237Page 40, line 26, after ("suspend") insert ("or partially suspend")
238Page 40, line 28, leave out from second ("suspended") to ("not") in line 31 and insert ("from being a member or co-opted member of the relevant authority concerned for a period which does")
239Page 40, line 39, leave out ("member or co-opted member of the relevant authority concerned") and insert ("person")

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240Page 40, line 43, leave out subsection (7) and insert--
("(7) Where a person is no longer a member or co-opted member of the relevant authority concerned but is a member or co-opted member of another relevant authority in England--
(a) the second reference in subsection (3) to the relevant authority concerned is to be treated as a reference to that other relevant authority, and
(b) the reference in subsection (6)(b) to the relevant authority concerned is to be treated as including a reference to that other relevant authority.
(8) In this Part "partially suspended" and cognate expressions are to be construed in accordance with section 77(7) and (8).")
241Clause 62, page 41, leave out line 6 and insert (" 60(2)")
242Page 41, line 22, after second ("member") insert ("(or former member or co-opted member)")
243Page 41, line 23, at end insert--
("( ) the publicity to be given to any such report, recommendations or action.")
244Page 41, line 30, after second ("member") insert ("(or former member or co-opted member)")
245Page 41, line 35, after second ("member") insert ("(or former member or co-opted member)")
246Page 41, line 39, after second ("member") insert ("(or former member or co-opted member)")
247Page 41, leave out line 46 and insert (" 60(2)")

Lord Whitty: I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 226 to 247.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 226 to 247.--(Lord Whitty.)

On Question, Motions agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENT

248After Clause 62, insert the following new clause--
CONSULTATION WITH LOCAL COMMISSIONER

(" .--(1) If, at any stage in the course of conducting an investigation under section 55, an ethical standards officer forms the opinion that the matters which are the subject of the investigation relate partly to a matter which could be the subject of an investigation under Part III of the Local Government Act 1974, he may consult the appropriate Local Commissioner about the investigation and, if he considers it necessary, inform any person who made the allegation which gave rise to the investigation of the steps necessary to initiate a complaint under Part III of that Act.
(2) If, at any stage in the course of conducting an investigation under Part III of that Act, a Local Commissioner forms the opinion that the complaint relates partly to a matter which could be the subject of an investigation under section 55 of this Act, he may consult the Standards Board for England about the investigation and, if he considers it necessary, inform the person initiating the complaint of the steps necessary to make an allegation under section 54.
(3) Consultation under subsection (1) or (2) may relate to any matter concerned with the investigation, including--
(a) the conduct of the investigation, and
(b) the form, content and publication of any report relating to the investigation.
(4) Nothing in section 32(2) of the Local Government Act 1974 or section 59(1) of this Act shall apply in relation to the disclosure of information in the course of consultation held in accordance with this section.

24 Jul 2000 : Column 81


(5) In this section "Local Commissioner" has the same meaning as in Part III of the Local Government Act 1974.")

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 248. In moving the amendment I speak to the amendments grouped with it.

These provisions will enable ethical standards officers (ESOs) to form a close working relationship with the ombudsman where appropriate. We have had discussions with the ombudsman and with the Audit Commission since the last passage of the Bill through this House. We have defined what we believe to be the best and most appropriate relationship with these bodies. Bearing in mind the ombudsman's obligation towards the protection of the anonymity of the complainant and the sensitivity of much of the information the ombudsman collects it was considered that a power to consult was the best way to define the relationship between the ombudsman and the ESO. I hope that that meets general approval.

Moved, that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 248.--(Lord Whitty.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENTS

249Clause 63, page 42, line 9, after ("Wales") insert ("(other than police authorities)")
250Page 42, line 11, after ("authorities") insert--
("( ) may issue guidance to relevant authorities in Wales (other than police authorities) in relation to the qualifications or experience which monitoring officers should possess,")
251Clause 64, page 42, line 33, after second ("member") insert ("(or former member or co-opted member)")
252Page 42, line 36, at end insert ("(or former member or co-opted member)")
253Page 42, line 39, at end insert--
("( ) If a Local Commissioner in Wales considers that a written allegation under subsection (1)(a) should not be investigated, he must take reasonable steps to give written notification to the person who made the allegation of the decision and the reasons for the decision.")
254Page 43, line 8, at end insert--
("( ) Where a person is no longer a member or co-opted member of the relevant authority concerned but is a member or co-opted member of another relevant authority in Wales, the reference in subsection (3)(c) to the monitoring officer of the relevant authority concerned is to be treated as a reference either to the monitoring officer of the relevant authority concerned or to the monitoring officer of that other relevant authority (and accordingly a Local Commissioner in Wales who reaches a finding under subsection (3)(c) must decide to which of those monitoring officers to refer the matters concerned).")
255Clause 65, page 43, line 22, at end insert--
("(5) Where a person is no longer a member or co-opted member of the relevant authority concerned but is a member or co-opted member of another relevant authority in Wales, a Local Commissioner in Wales may, if he thinks it more appropriate than making such a reference as is mentioned in subsection (4), refer the matters which are the subject of the investigation to the monitoring officer of that other relevant authority.")
256Clause 66, page 43, line 37, at beginning insert ("subject to subsection (3A)(b)")

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257Page 44, line 6, at end insert--
("(3A) Where a person is no longer a member or co-opted member of the relevant authority concerned but is a member or co-opted member of another relevant authority in Wales--
(a) the references in subsections (1)(b), (c) and (d), (2)(c) and (3)(c) to the relevant authority concerned are to be treated as including references to that other relevant authority, and
(b) a Local Commissioner in Wales who reaches a finding under section 64(3)(c) must refer the matters concerned either to the monitoring officer of the relevant authority concerned or to the monitoring officer of that other relevant authority.")
258Page 44, line 8, after second ("members") insert ("(or former members or co-opted members)")
259Clause 67, page 44, line 16, leave out subsection (1) and insert--
("(1) Where he considers it necessary in the public interest, a Local Commissioner in Wales may, before the completion of an investigation under section 64, produce an interim report on that investigation.")
260Page 44, line 21, after ("members") insert ("(or former members or co-opted members)")
261Page 44, line 25, leave out ("a relevant authority") and insert ("the relevant authority concerned")
262Page 44, line 27, leave out ("or (5)(b)")
263Page 44, line 28, after ("suspend") insert ("or partially suspend")
264Page 44, line 30, leave out from second ("suspended") to ("not") in line 33 and insert ("from being a member or co-opted member of the relevant authority concerned for a period which does")
265Page 44, line 43, at end insert--
("(7) Where a person is no longer a member or co-opted member of the relevant authority concerned but is a member or co-opted member of another relevant authority in Wales--
(a) the second reference in subsection (3) to the relevant authority concerned is to be treated as a reference to that other relevant authority, and
(b) the reference in subsection (6)(b) to the relevant authority concerned is to be treated as including a reference to that other relevant authority.")
266Clause 68, page 45, leave out line 6 and insert (" 66(2)")
267Page 45, line 22, after second ("member") insert ("(or former member or co-opted member)")
268Page 45, line 23, at end insert--
("( ) the publicity to be given to any such reports, recommendations or action.")
269Page 45, line 30, after second ("member") insert ("(or former member or co-opted member)")
270Page 45, line 35, after second ("member") insert ("(or former member or co-opted member)")
271Page 45, line 39, after second ("member") insert ("(or former member or co-opted member)")
272Page 45, line 42, at end insert--
("( ) In its application to police authorities in Wales, subsection (1) has effect as if for the reference to the National Assembly for Wales there were substituted a reference to the Secretary of State.")
273Page 45, leave out line 46 and insert (" 66(2)")

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274After Clause 68, insert the following new clause--
LAW OF DEFAMATION

(" . For the purposes of the law of defamation, any statement (whether written or oral) made by a Local Commissioner in Wales in connection with the exercise of his functions under this Part shall be absolutely privileged.")

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 249 to 274.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 249 to 274.--(Lord Whitty.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.


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