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Audit Commission

Volume 505: debated on Friday 5 February 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether board members of the Audit Commission are required to disclose membership of a political party when making a declaration of political activity. (315513)

This is an operational matter for the Audit Commission and I have asked the chief executive of the Audit Commission to write to the hon. Member direct.

Letter from Steve Bundred, dated 5 February 2010:

Your Parliamentary Question outlined above has been passed to me to reply.

There is no requirement for Board Members of the Audit Commission to disclose membership of a political party when making a declaration of political activity. The Commission follows the guidance of the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments, which does not require details of party membership.

A copy of this letter will be placed in Hansard.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many employment disputes involving staff of the Audit Commission have been taken to an employment tribunal in the last four years; what the outcome was of each; and what the grounds of the dispute were in each case, anonymised where necessary. (315549)

This is an operational matter for the Audit Commission, and I will ask the Chief Executive of the Audit Commission to write to the hon. Member direct.

Letter from Steve Bundred, dated 5 February 2010:

Your Parliamentary Question outlined above has been passed to me to reply.

Seven employment tribunal claims have been brought against the Commission by members of staff or former staff in the last four years. The grounds of dispute and outcome in each case are outlined below.

1. A former employee argued that dismissal on grounds of redundancy was unfair. The matter was settled on cost efficiency grounds.

2. A former employee disputed the amount of holiday pay owed by the Commission on termination of employment. The Tribunal dismissed the claim.

3. A former employee alleged breach of contract relating to an agreement to make payment in lieu of notice (PILON). The claim was settled for a nominal amount.

4. A former employee brought a claim against the Commission for failure to make an ill-health retirement recommendation to the Commission’s Pension Scheme Trustees. The claim was withdrawn.

5. A former employee argued that dismissal on grounds of redundancy was unfair. The claim was withdrawn.

6. Nine members of staff brought a claim against the Commission for equal pay. The claim was upheld by the Employment Tribunal and is the subject to an appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal.

7. A former employee has brought claims against the Commission for unfair dismissal, race discrimination, disability discrimination and other related claims. The claims are yet to be heard and are fully contested by the Commission.

A copy of this letter will be placed in Hansard.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what (a) declaration of interests and (b) record of gifts and hospitality has been made by each board member and Commissioner of the Audit Commission; and what benefits in kind are provided to the board members of the Audit Commission. (315550)

This is an operational matter for the Audit Commission and I have asked the Chief Executive of the Audit Commission to write to the hon. Member direct.

Letter from Steve Bundred, dated 5 February 2010:

Your Parliamentary Question has been passed to me to reply.

Board Member Declarations of Interest

Audit Commission Board members are required to declare any interests that are relevant and material to the Commission, and which they might reasonably be expected to know about. Commissioners must also declare any perceived or actual interest at Board meetings, where the interest relates specifically to a particular issue under consideration. Interests that should be regarded as ‘relevant and material’ are circumstances in which there is a real possibility of bias, including those in which a Board member or his/her close family or any nominee of his/hers is:

a paid employee, partner, Director or proprietor of a company or other body with which the Commission has, is entering into or is proposing to enter into a contract;

is a trustee or on the Committee of Management or other controlling body of a non-profit making organisation, for example a charity or a Housing Association, with which the Commission has significant dealings;

has a controlling interest or has shares or securities with a nominal value of more than £25,000 or one-hundredth of the total issued share capital in a company or organisation with which the Commission has, is entering into or proposing to enter into a contract;

has a direct interest in any land or property that is used by the Commission; and/or

any other general declarations they might wish to make.

Below is a table of all such declarations made by current Board members. This information is published on the Audit Commission website at:

http://www.audit-commission.gov.uk/aboutus/howwearerun/pages/commissioners.aspx

Commissioner

Interest declared

Michael O'Higgins (Chair)

Chair, Centrepoint

Trustee, NatCen

Non-executive Chair, Alexander Mann Solutions

Non-executive Director and Chair, HM Treasury Group Audit Committee

Steve Bundred (Chief Executive)

His wife is normally employed by, or contracted with local authorities as an interim manager of children's social services

Bharat Shah (Deputy Chair)

(from January 2010) Non-executive Director, Places for People Group

Victor Adebowale

CEO/Company Secretary, Turning Point

Co-Chair, Mental Health Delivery, Race Equality Strategy

Commissioner, UK Employment and Training Commission

(Until October 2007) Member, National Employment Panel

National School of Government

Fellow, Sunningdale Institute

Director, Leadership in Mind

Non-Exec Director, St. Vincent's Healthcare Consulting

Cllr Merrick Cockell

Elected Member, Royal borough of Kensington and Chelsea

Chairman, London Councils

Chairman, Conservative Councillors' Association

Jim Coulter

Chair, Bridging Newcastle Gateshead (December 2008 to November 2011)

Board Member, Tenant Services Authority (October 2008 to September 2012)

Dr. Jennifer Dixon

Director, Nuffield Trust

Editorial Board Member, Office for Health Economics

(Until March 2009) Board Member, Healthcare Commission

Sheila Drew Smith

Non-executive Board Member, Tenant Services Authority (from October 2008)

Chair, Action for Bow Charity

Non-executive Board Member, London Thames Gateway Development Corporation (from February 2009)

Independent Public Appointments Assessor, Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments

Cllr Steve Houghton

Leader, Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council

Barnsley Miller Partnership

Peer, Improvement and Development Agency

Local Government Association Strategy and Finance Policy Review Group

Sir Thomas Legg

Non-executive Director, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust

Currently acting as consultant to the Ministry of Justice

Dame Denise Piatt

NSPCC

University of Bedfordshire

FPA

National Aids Trust

Adventure Capital Fund Trustee

Independent Review Board, Cheshire Fire and Rescue Services

Committee for Standards in Public Life

Governing Board of the new School for Social Care Research (National Institute for Health Research)

(Until March 2009) Commission for Social Care Inspection

Dr. Raj Rajagopal

No declarations

Jenny Watson

Electoral Commission

WRAP

Cllr Chris White

Hertfordshire county council

St. Albans City and district council

Board Chair and Executive Member, Local Government Association

Member, Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales

A family Member is an employee of Ernst and Young

Board Member Gifts and Hospitality

The following table summarises the detail of gifts and hospitality declared by Audit Commission Board members:

Notification received

From

To

Nature of gift / hospitality (date)

Accepted

23 July 2006

Deloitte

Jim Coulter

2 x concert tickets for event at Alnwick Castle (July 26)

Yes

24 July 2008

Sir Christopher and Lady Kelly

Dame Denise Piatt

Glyndebourne concert ticket (July 27)

Yes

7 May 2009

PWC partners (Paul Woolston and Janet Eilbeck)

Sheila Drew Smith

lunch at Connaught Hotel (6 May)

Yes

18 August 2009

PWC partner (Paul Woolston)

Bharat Shah

Building Public Trust Annual Dinner 2009 at The Dorchester (30 September)

Yes

4 September 2009

David Fielding, Tribal

Bharat Shah

Tribal late summer reception (17 September)

Yes

1 February 2010

City Inn Westminster

Jim Coulter

2 x bottles wine (donated to Audit Commission staff social committee to raffle at staff event) (21 January)

Yes

A record of gifts and hospitality received by the Chairman and Chief Executive is available on our website at:

http://www.audit-commission.gov.uk/legal/freedomofinformation/Pages/hospitalityregister.aspx

Benefits in Kind

Audit Commission Board Members receive no benefits in kind, but are entitled to claim travel and subsistence expenses incurred on business, in accordance with the arrangements made for the senior staff of the Audit Commission.

A copy of this letter will be placed in Hansard.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what declaration of political activity has been made by each board member and Commissioner of the Audit Commission. (315554)

This is an operational matter for the Audit Commission and I have asked the chief executive of the Audit Commission to write to the hon. Member direct.

Letter from Steve Bundred, dated 5 February2010:

Your Parliamentary Question outlined above has been passed to me to reply.

Three of the Audit Commission Board’s members are local government Councillors and represent the three main political parties:

Cllr Merrick Cockell (Conservative), elected Member for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea;

Cllr Stephen Houghton (Labour), elected Member for Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council;

Cllr Chris White (Liberal Democrat), elected Member for St Albans City and District Council and Hertfordshire County Council.

On appointment by the Secretary of State, Board members receive Cabinet Office guidance on Codes of Practice for Board Members. The guidance covering political activities, sections (a)-(c), states:

(a) Members of Boards, whether whole-time or part-time, should not serve as officers carrying out executive duties in any political party.

(b) Full-time members should abstain from controversial political activity.

(c) Subject to (a) above, part-time members are free to engage in any political activities, provided that they are conscious of their general public responsibility and exercise proper discretion, particularly in regard to the work of the Boards of which they are members. On matters affecting that work, they should not normally make political speeches or engage in other political activities.

Beyond the political activities carried out by the Commissioners named above in their role as elected Members, there have been no declarations of political activity made by any member of the Audit Commission Board.

A copy of this letter will be placed in Hansard.