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Councillor Conduct

Volume 451: debated on Wednesday 1 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what representations she has received from the Adjudication Panel for England on clarification of the councillors’ code of conduct. (94561)

The Adjudication Panel’s annual report for the year ending 31 March 2006 includes its formal response to a review of the code of conduct which was carried out by the Standards Board for England in 2005 at the request of Ministers. It can be viewed at www.adjudicationpanel.co.uk/documents/pdf_annual_report_2006_for website2.pdf, and copies have also been placed in the Library of the House.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance the Government and Standards Board of England has provided to local authority councillors on avoiding (a) bias and (b) the appearance of bias in addition to the local government code of conduct for councillors. (94645)

The Department for Communities and Local Government has issued no guidance on bias. This is a legal concept which the courts have always applied to local authority decision-making. It predates the code of conduct and is not altered by it.

The standards board’s guidance, Lobby Groups, Dual-Hatted Members and the Code of Conduct, published in September 2004, contains some general advice on bias in order to draw a distinction between this and the separate issue of personal and prejudicial interests, which is covered by the code. The board issued a press release on 19 September which also referred to this issue.