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The hon. Member for Shipley made a point about Doncaster. I emphasise the fact that his point related to the office holder, not to the office. Our argument for a 10-year period is a fair one because we want a balance between devolution and stability, and a four-year mayoral office could be bedevilled by the threat of a referendum—I use the word “threat” deliberately—often inspired for mischievous purposes. Of course, the public have the right to reverse the decision and the principle enshrined in the Bill is that the method by which an executive arrangement was chosen is the
22 May 2007 : Column 1204
method by which it can be replaced. The evidence is that the mayoral models are improving the situation in those areas—

Philip Davies indicated dissent.

Mr. Woolas: The hon. Gentleman shakes his head, but I could take him to Torbay where the Conservative mayor is doing a good job. The idea of having a mayor was opposed at first, but it is now embedded. The model might not suit neighbouring councils in that region or elsewhere, but we have made a change that is delivering improvements in local areas.

Mr. Khalid Mahmood (Birmingham, Perry Barr) (Lab): Under the Bill, the right to petition for a referendum will be taken away and councils will decide about whether to have an elected mayor. In Birmingham, the local authority does not want an elected mayor but, as my hon. Friend knows, a huge campaign for a petition has been mounted by the Birmingham Evening Mail. What will happen in such communities?

Mr. Woolas: My hon. Friend raises an important point. The Bill does not take away the right of the public to raise a petition to bring about a new executive model; it enhances the power of the council to take that decision, should it so wish—not as an alternative to a petition, but in addition to that right.

With those arguments, I ask the House to resist the new clause and to vote for the Government amendments.

Alistair Burt: I am grateful to the Minister and I have listened carefully to his arguments, but we intend to press the new clause. It is not good enough to reject a model that many Members and many councillors think valuable and to persist in including an option that no one wants. Given the points we have made about local freedom and local desire to choose, it would be best to allow the fullest possible opportunity for councils to make that choice, so I commend the new clause to the House.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 129, Noes 305.
Division No. 125]
[8.24 pm


Afriyie, Adam
Ainsworth, Mr. Peter
Arbuthnot, rh Mr. James
Atkinson, Mr. Peter
Baron, Mr. John
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Benyon, Mr. Richard
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Binley, Mr. Brian
Boswell, Mr. Tim
Bottomley, Peter
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Brokenshire, James
Burns, Mr. Simon
Burrowes, Mr. David
Burt, Alistair
Butterfill, Sir John
Campbell, Mr. Gregory
Cash, Mr. William
Clark, Greg
Cox, Mr. Geoffrey
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Davies, David T.C. (Monmouth)
Davies, Philip
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Dodds, Mr. Nigel
Donaldson, rh Mr. Jeffrey M.
Dorries, Mrs. Nadine
Duddridge, James
Duncan, Alan
Duncan Smith, rh Mr. Iain
Evans, Mr. Nigel

Fabricant, Michael
Field, Mr. Mark
Fox, Dr. Liam
Francois, Mr. Mark
Fraser, Mr. Christopher
Gale, Mr. Roger
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Gauke, Mr. David
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gove, Michael
Grayling, Chris
Hague, rh Mr. William
Harper, Mr. Mark
Hayes, Mr. John
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Heathcoat-Amory, rh Mr. David
Herbert, Nick
Hermon, Lady
Hogg, rh Mr. Douglas
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Holloway, Mr. Adam
Horam, Mr. John
Howarth, Mr. Gerald
Hunt, Mr. Jeremy
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
Jones, Mr. David
Kawczynski, Daniel
Key, Robert
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Lait, Mrs. Jacqui
Lansley, Mr. Andrew
Letwin, rh Mr. Oliver
Lewis, Dr. Julian
Liddell-Grainger, Mr. Ian
Lidington, Mr. David
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
Maclean, rh David
Main, Anne
May, rh Mrs. Theresa
McIntosh, Miss Anne
Mercer, Patrick
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Milton, Anne
Mitchell, Mr. Andrew
Moss, Mr. Malcolm
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Neill, Robert
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, Mr. James
Paterson, Mr. Owen
Pelling, Mr. Andrew
Penrose, John
Pickles, Mr. Eric
Prisk, Mr. Mark
Pritchard, Mark
Randall, Mr. John
Redwood, rh Mr. John
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Robinson, rh Mr. Peter
Rosindell, Andrew
Scott, Mr. Lee
Selous, Andrew
Shapps, Grant
Shepherd, Mr. Richard
Simmonds, Mark
Soames, Mr. Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs. Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Stanley, rh Sir John
Streeter, Mr. Gary
Stuart, Mr. Graham
Syms, Mr. Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Vaizey, Mr. Edward
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Walker, Mr. Charles
Wallace, Mr. Ben
Waterson, Mr. Nigel
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Wiggin, Bill
Wilshire, Mr. David
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Wilson, Sammy
Winterton, Ann
Wright, Jeremy
Young, rh Sir George
Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. David Evennett and
Mr. Mark Lancaster

Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Alexander, Danny
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Mr. David
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Austin, Mr. Ian
Austin, John
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Baker, Norman
Banks, Gordon
Barlow, Ms Celia
Battle, rh John
Bayley, Hugh
Begg, Miss Anne
Beith, rh Mr. Alan
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brooke, Annette
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Bruce, rh Malcolm
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Burt, Lorely
Butler, Ms Dawn

Byrne, Mr. Liam
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Caton, Mr. Martin
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben
Chaytor, Mr. David
Clark, Ms Katy
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clegg, Mr. Nick
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coffey, Ann
Cooper, Rosie
Cooper, Yvette
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, Mr. David
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs. Claire
Darling, rh Mr. Alistair
Davey, Mr. Edward
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Drew, Mr. David
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Engel, Natascha
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Farrelly, Paul
Farron, Tim
Featherstone, Lynne
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, Caroline
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Don
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gardiner, Barry
George, Andrew
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Goggins, Paul
Goldsworthy, Julia
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Gwynne, Andrew
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Hancock, Mr. Mike
Hanson, rh Mr. David
Harris, Dr. Evan
Harris, Mr. Tom
Havard, Mr. Dai
Healey, John
Heath, Mr. David
Henderson, Mr. Doug
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hillier, Meg
Hodge, rh Margaret
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Holmes, Paul
Hood, Mr. Jimmy
Hopkins, Kelvin
Horwood, Martin
Howarth, David
Hughes, rh Beverley
Hughes, Simon
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hunter, Mark
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Irranca-Davies, Huw
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Lynne
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Keetch, Mr. Paul
Kelly, rh Ruth
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Knight, Jim
Kramer, Susan
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lamb, Norman
Laws, Mr. David
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Leech, Mr. John
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Lloyd, Tony
Lucas, Ian
Mactaggart, Fiona
Mahmood, Mr. Khalid
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Marshall, Mr. David
Marshall-Andrews, Mr. Robert
Martlew, Mr. Eric

McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Chris
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McCartney, rh Mr. Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
McFadden, Mr. Pat
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGuire, Mrs. Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, Mr. Tony
Meacher, rh Mr. Michael
Meale, Mr. Alan
Merron, Gillian
Milburn, rh Mr. Alan
Miliband, Edward
Miller, Andrew
Moffat, Anne
Moffatt, Laura
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Moore, Mr. Michael
Morden, Jessica
Morgan, Julie
Mountford, Kali
Mulholland, Greg
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Murphy, Mr. Jim
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
Olner, Mr. Bill
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, Sandra
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Pope, Mr. Greg
Prentice, Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Purnell, James
Rammell, Bill
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Reid, Mr. Alan
Reid, rh John
Rennie, Willie
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Rogerson, Mr. Dan
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Roy, Mr. Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Bob
Russell, Christine
Ryan, Joan
Salter, Martin
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Seabeck, Alison
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Singh, Mr. Marsha
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andy
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, rh Jacqui
Smith, John
Smith, Sir Robert
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, Ian
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Stunell, Andrew
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Swinson, Jo
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Taylor, Matthew
Teather, Sarah
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Ussher, Kitty
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Ward, Claire
Wareing, Mr. Robert N.
Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Webb, Steve
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Williams, Mark
Williams, Mr. Roger
Williams, Stephen
Willott, Jenny
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Dr. Tony
Wyatt, Derek
Tellers for the Noes:

Liz Blackman and
Tony Cunningham
Question accordingly negatived.
22 May 2007 : Column 1205

22 May 2007 : Column 1206

22 May 2007 : Column 1207

22 May 2007 : Column 1208

New Clause 64

Abolition of Standards Board for England, repeal of provisions relating to investigations etc. (Wales) and abolition of Adjudication Panels etc.

‘(1) Part 3 of the Local Government Act 2000 (c. 22) (conduct of local government members and employees) is amended as follows.

(2) Omit sections 57 to 80.

(3) Omit Schedule 4.’.— [Philip Davies.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Philip Davies: I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Michael Lord): With this it will be convenient to discuss the following: Amendment No. 250, in clause 141, page 97, line 10, leave out from ‘include’ to end of line 11 and insert

Amendment No. 251, page 97, line 14, leave out from ‘apply’ to end of line 15 and insert

Amendment No. 134, page 97, line 15, at end insert—

‘(4B) Such provisions shall include a right of a person who is member of a relevant body to speak and vote at any meeting of that body or of any delegated committee or sub-committee to which he has been appointed in respect of the determination of any planning applications within the area which he represents on that body, not withstanding any disclosure he may have made about his predisposition in respect of that application.’.

Amendment No. 252, page 97, line 19, leave out from ‘apply’ to end of line 20 and insert

Amendment No. 260, page 99, line 2, leave out clauses 143 and 144.

Government amendments Nos. 61 to 67.

Amendment No. 261, page 105, line 1, leave out clauses 148 to 157.

Government amendments Nos. 68 to 72.

Amendment No. 262, in clause 158, page 112, leave out lines 15 and 16.

Amendment No. 263, page 112, line 27, leave out subsections (1) to (3).

Government amendment No. 73.

Amendment No. 264, in schedule 15, page 190, leave out lines 20 to 24 and insert—

    ‘Sections 57 to 80.

    Schedule 4.’.

22 May 2007 : Column 1209

Philip Davies: Amendments Nos. 260 to 264, which I also tabled, are consequential to new clause 64, which would abolish the Standards Board for England. From the outset I should declare an interest: my wife has recently been elected to the newly formed Baildon parish council in the village in which I live in Shipley.

The Standards Board for England has become a bit of a laughing stock in local government. It is damaging the reputation and standing of local councillors and local government. Indeed, the Committee on Standards in Public Life has said:

I could not have put it better myself.

The number of complaints to the Standards Board has been rising year on year, from 2,948 in 2002-03 to 3,861 in 2004-05. And yet according to Government figures, in the last year for which figures are available only 3 per cent. of complaints resulted in a verdict that the code had been breached, and many of the breaches were very minor offences, such as not showing sufficient respect to people—as the Mayor of London can testify. This constant rise in the number of allegations clearly shows that either standards are not improving as a result of the Standards Board, or the process is fuelling unfounded and malicious complaints.

There is very little comeback for complainants when allegations against local councillors are shown to be vexatious and lacking in substance. Worse, the Standards Board proudly states that for data protection reasons it does not publish the names of people who make allegations. That leaves councillors very exposed to politically motivated and unnecessary complaints. Even worse, it takes so long to investigate complaints. Sir Alistair Graham wrote in a report that research by the Committee on Standards in Public Life suggested that



That obviously has a negative impact on people who are facing complaints, with the smell hanging over them for so long, and also sometimes on the people who have made a complaint, who feel that nothing ever seems to get done.

Despite this absolute shambles, the cost to the Government of the Standards Board is forecast to rise to £9.4 million; that is up from £6.2 million in 2003. So not only is it damaging to local government, but it is a very expensive exercise.

One of the consequences of this situation is that there is a reported shortage of candidates coming forward for places on parish councils, because they do not want to get embroiled in all this nonsense. In my local area we have a shortage of people wishing to stand for the parish council, and I do not think it any coincidence that that has happened since the introduction of the Standards Board.

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