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Standards Board

Volume 453: debated on Tuesday 28 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) how many complaints were referred to the Adjudication Panel by the Standards Board against an elected member of an (a) local authority and (b) parish council in each year between 2001 and 2006; (100851)

(2) how many complaints were received by the Standards Board against an elected member of an (a) local authority and (b) parish council in each year between 2001 and 2006;

(3) how many (a) local authorities and (b) parish councils the Standards Board has not received a complaint against any elected member since 2001;

(4) how many complaints against elected members of (a) local authorities and (b) parish councils referred to the Adjudication Panel by the Standards Board have taken longer than 12 months to reach a decision;

(5) how many complaints against elected members of (a) local authorities and (b) parish councils in (i) 2001, (ii) 2002, (iii) 2003, (iv) 2004, (v) 2005 and (vi) 2006 are outstanding at the Adjudication Panel after being referred by the Standards Board;

(6) how many complaints against an elected member of an (a) local authority and (b) parish council in (i) London, (ii) the South East, (iii) the South West, (iv) the Midlands, (v) the North East, (vi) the North West and (vii) Wales have been referred to the Adjudication Panel by the Standards Board since 2001;

(7) how many complaints against elected members of (a) local authorities and (b) parish councils referred to the Adjudication Panel by the Standards Board concerned the failure to declare a (i) non-financial interest and (ii) personal interest in each year between 2001 and 2006;

(8) how many complaints against elected members of (a) local authorities and (b) parish councils referred to the Adjudication Panel by the Standards Board were upheld in each year between 2001 and 2006;

(9) how many complaints have been upheld by the Adjudication Panel after being referred by the Standards Board since 2001;

(10) how many complaints have been referred to the Adjudication Panel by the Standards Board since 2001;

(11) how many complaints have been received by the Standards Board since 2001.

I have asked the Chief Executive of the Standards Board to write to the hon. Member on this matter. I shall arrange for a copy of his reply to be placed in the Library of the House.

Letter from David Prince, dated 28 November 2006:

Thank you for your recent Parliamentary questions requesting information on the complaints dealt with by the Standards Board for England (the Standards Board) and the Adjudication Panel for England (APE). The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has asked the Standards Board to reply directly to your request. I am copying this reply to her officials.

The information you have requested has been placed in a table format for ease of reference. The table is on the enclosed sheet. In summary, 91 per cent. of cases referred to them have been upheld by the APE.

We did not refer any completed investigations for adjudication by the APE until October 2002, since the Code of Conduct was not approved by Parliament until November 2001. You may also note that there were a relatively high number of cases referred to the APE in the financial year 2002-2003. This is because a majority of the first cases referred to the APE were register of interest cases that involved parish councillors who were opposed to the register of interests being imposed halfway through their term of office.

You will also note from the table of statistics that the APE received and determined fewer cases than the Standards Board referred to it. This is because when the APE receives multiple cases about the same member it will normally consider all the cases at the same time, and therefore consider them as a single case.

There is also a disparity in each year between the numbers of cases the APE received and the number it determined. This is because the APE will receive cases near the end of a financial year that it will subsequently determine in the following financial year. The normal handling time, allowing for circulation of papers and responses, is around 16 weeks.

We have been able to provide you with the number of cases referred to the APE by the Standards Board since 2001 by region. However, we do not collate this regional information by each type of authority so I am unable to provide you with this information broken down between parish/town councils and the other remaining local authorities. This is however an area of our statistical analysis that we will look to provide in the future.

We cannot provide any statistics on complaints relating to local authorities in Wales as, under the “Local Government Act 2000”, the Standards Board does not have the power to consider complaints against members of local authorities in Wales. Under the Act the Standards Board only has the power to issue guidance on the Code of Conduct to Welsh police authorities. It is the Public Service Ombudsman for Wales that considers complaints against members of local authorities in Wales, and you would need to contact him direct for any information you require.

It is interesting to note that an increasing proportion of the complaints we receive are submitted by members of the public. 51 per cent. of the complaints we received in 2003-04 were from the public, rising to 60 per cent. in 2004-05 and rising further to 64 per cent. in 2005-06.

I hope that this information is helpful. If you would like any further information please do not hesitate to contact me.

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-present

Total

Total complaints received by the SBE

2,948

3,566

3,861

3,836

1,996

Complaints received by authority type

Parish/Town Council

1,630

1,754

1,486

1,543

774

All other local authorities

1,318

1,812

2,375

2,293

1,222

Not referred for investigation

1,689

2,144

2,756

2,842

1,527

Not referred for investigation in percentage

56

66

69

72

76

Cases referred to the APE by the SBE

Parish/Town Councils

90

53

40

48

1

232

Other local authorities

16

33

68

45

4

166

Total

106

86

108

93

5

398

Cases received by the APE

London

0

1

10

6

0

17

East of England

10

13

16

10

0

49

South East

32

8

15

11

0

66

South West

16

19

8

13

3

59

Midlands

25

20

20

13

1

79

North East

7

2

8

8

1

26

North West

13

9

5

5

1

33

Total

103

72

82

66

6

329

Case upheld by the APE

Parish/Town Councils

29

104

17

39

5

194

Other local authorities

0

21

34

44

11

110

Total

29

125

51

83

16

304

Cases not upheld by the APE

Parish/Town Councils

0

4

7

1

0

12

Other local authorities

1

1

2

12

3

19

Total

1

5

9

13

3

31

Overall total

30

130

60

96

19

335