441.These sections give effect to the Government’s proposals for the reform of the regime relating to standards of conduct for local government. Proposals for amendments to the regime were included in the Government’s discussion paper Standards of Conduct in English Local Government: The Future, issued in December 2005. Decisions on action to be taken were then announced in the Local Government White Paper.
442.The proposals are aimed at devolving most decision-making on the conduct regime for local authority members to local authorities, with a revised, regulatory role provided for the Standards Board. The measures provide for local standards committees to make initial assessments of misconduct allegations and for review arrangements for those assessments which lead to no action being taken. The provisions also give powers for the Standards Board to suspend a standards committee’s role in making initial assessments of allegations, and for the Board to issue guidance to standards committees and ethical standards officers.
443.In addition, provision is made for decisions in respect of local authority posts subject to political restrictions to be undertaken by standards committees rather than, as now, by the Independent Adjudicator, and to enable the Secretary of State to issue an order to allow the maximum pay of political assistants to be linked to a point on a relevant pay scale specified by the order.
Chapter 1: Conduct of Local Authority Members
Codes of conduct
Section 183: Conduct that may be covered by code
444.This section amends sections 49, 50, 51 and 52 of the Local Government Act 2000 in relation to the principles that govern the conduct of members and co-opted members of relevant authorities in England and police authorities in Wales, the provisions of the code of conduct they are required to follow and the provisions which such authorities may add to the code of conduct they adopt. The effect is that such principles and provisions may apply to a member when he or she is acting in an official capacity, but the only principles and provisions which may apply to members outside their official capacity are those which prohibit conduct that would (if engaged in) constitute a criminal offence.
Section 184: Certain references to code of conduct to include default code
445.This section makes amendments to sections 37, 52 and 54 of the Local Government Act 2000. The effect of the amendment to section 37 is that authorities which have not adopted a code of conduct will be under a duty to include a copy of the mandatory provisions of the model code in their constitutions. The effect of the amendment to section 52 is that a person who becomes a member of an authority which has not adopted a code of conduct will be required to undertake that he will observe the mandatory provisions of the model code. The amendment to section 54 will provide for standards committees to assist members and give advice and training to them on following the mandatory provisions of the model code. The amendment to section 54 will also provide for standards committees to monitor the operation of the mandatory provisions of the model code.