The Standards Systems in the House of Commons - Committee on Standards Contents

Appendix 1: Local Government Standards Regimes in England


The Committee has asked me to prepare a note outlining the ethical standards frameworks that apply to local government in England. This note seeks to do that by detailing the evolution of the local government standards regime and then addressing some of the themes raised in other evidence submitted to the Committee. This note draws on research into the evolution of the standards system in English local government, and on my experience with Oxford City Council (a district council of 48 elected councillors representing 151,900 residents), as an Independent Member of its Standards Committee (2008-12) and as an Independent Person of the local authority (2012-), and I am grateful to two of my colleagues from 2008-12 for their helpful comments; however, the views expressed here are my own and represent neither the views of Oxford City Council nor of its Standards Committee past or present.

Background: trust in local government standards

Local government in England has, by international standards, generally enjoyed very high standards of conduct on the part of elected Members.[196] The Poulson scandal led to two Royal Commissions and a National Code of Local Government Conduct, first issued in 1975, which was applied to elected councillors in England, Wales, and Scotland. From 1990, that Code had a statutory footing, and breaches of the Code were treated as maladministration. When, in the mid-1990s, the Nolan Committee (Committee on Standards in Public Life, CSPL) turned its attention to Local Government, they found that "scarcely anyone had a good word to say" about this National Code.[197] Nolan found that local government was constrained by rules and by a system that lacked clarity: the National Code bore "little or no resemblance" to the best practice formula, which the Nolan Committee had already developed, i.e.:

    codes should be short, clear statements of principles, not rule books; the organisation within which a code operates should have an important role in revising it, or adapting it to its needs; sanctions should be clear, appropriate, and consistent; there should be a firm commitment to educating and training people in the code so they understand why it is there, as well as what it says[198]

Moreover, Nolan cautioned that the detailed rules-based arrangements in force at that time was in fact a risk to standards rather than a support for them: "We have commented in our previous two reports that attempting to enforce good conduct through detailed rules, especially where these are based on the presumption that people will naturally misbehave, can itself contribute to wrongdoing. Nowhere is this more evident than in local government."[199] A new Code and a new standards regime - a fresh start - was needed.

That new standards regime came into being in 2001, when the Local Government Act 2000, which set out a new ethical framework for local authority elected members in England and Wales, came into effect.[200] The Government published a model Code of Conduct, and local authorities were required, as a minimum, to adopt all elements of this model Code into their own Code of Conduct. A non-departmental public body, the Standards Board for England (SBE, later Standards for England) was established to promote and maintain high standards of conduct and to receive and investigate complaints of misconduct by councillors. Separately (to ensure a distinction between the investigation and adjudication of standards complaints) an Adjudication Panel for England was formed. Each principal local authority had to create a standards committee, tasked with promoting and maintaining high standards of conduct and facilitating Member engagement with the Code of Conduct.

Nolan had argued for the local regulation of standards issues; but the Government had preferred that complaints should be handled at arm's length - i.e. by the SBE - not least to ensure consistent complaints-handling. Although some investigations by SBE were handed back to local authorities for determination, the centralisation of investigations led to much criticism for SBE: substantial delays in resolution of complaints; marginalisation of local procedures; over-weighting of trivial complaints and lack of local knowledge; inability to resolve complaints through mediation or informal means.[201] The 2001 regime was highly-centralised.

Local resolution of standards complaints finally came into force in May 2008. The Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 had amended the Local Government Act 2000 by providing for the local reception and assessment of allegations of the breach of a council's Code of Conduct, and the Standards Committee (England) Regulations 2008 outlined requirements for the conduct of a council's members and requirements for handling problems. Councils were required to augment their Standards Committees in order to equip them to take a much more pro-active role in promoting standards and in ruling on questions of ethical conduct. Although the standards regime was set down in legislation, and the Standards Board's role in setting standards and promoting good practice was often appreciated, there was nonetheless substantial variation in local practice. The number of Parishes within an authority's remit, as well as the local political attitude to petty or tit-for-tat complaints, resulted in variance in the volume of complaints and the complexities of resolving them; some elected members in some authorities saw standards committees as a nuisance.

Under the Standards Board regime, some council Standards Committees took on functions other than monitoring standards of conduct, for example the oversight and review of the council's Codes of Practice, or the monitoring of service and other complaints made to the council. Such activities meant that a Standards Committee understood more fully the workings of the council as a whole, meant that external input was brought to bear in reviewing and analysing these issues, ensured that the Standards Committee met regularly even when no adjudication on complaints against councillors was required, and helped raise the profile of the Standards Committee elsewhere within the local authority.

There had been substantial criticism of the 2001 Standards Board regime. For example, Eric Pickles, as Shadow Minister for Local Government in 2005, called for the abolition of the Standards Board for England. He preferred to rely on existing mechanisms relating to financial accountability (through District Auditors) and service provision (the ombudsman), alongside prosecution in the courts for breaches of the criminal law.[202] Some of this discontent related to delays and other failures which were remedied under the 2008 changes (such as slow resolution and the disempowerment of local Standards Committees). Nonetheless, the Coalition Government's Programme for Government committed to ending the Standards Board regime, which it regarded as "a system of nuisance complaints and petty, sometimes malicious, allegations of councillor misconduct that sapped public confidence in local democracy."[203] This long-term criticism resulted in clauses of the Localism Act 2011, which abolished SBE and the national model Code of Conduct, and imposed new requirements on local authorities and councillors; but the "lighter-touch" regulatory regime has not been universally welcomed.[204]

Codes of Conduct

Model Codes of Conduct for different levels of local government (district, parish) were issued by the Government in 2001. A review on behalf of the SBE in 2005 indicated that "the code enjoys broad support, although significant issues remain".[205] An SBE review in 2006 resulted in substantial changes to the model Code being introduced in 2007. A particular criticism, which was addressed, was the requirement to withdraw from discussion of matters on which a Member has a prejudicial interest. The 2007 Model Code was designed to promote transparency and prevent conflicts of interest (through its treatment of personal and pecuniary interests and questions of improper advantage), and to advance the fair and effective functioning of the authority (through its strictures against bullying, the compromising of officers, and the obstruction of access to information, and its underlying of principles of equality and anti-discrimination law).

To some extent, a single and mandatory code was helpful. It meant that councillors who were elected members of more than one council were subject to the same standards regimes in each. It enabled Independent Members and council officers from different authorities to exchange information and best practice. SBE was able to provide training and guidance across the English local authorities, which was generally helpful and much-appreciated by the standards committee. A consistent approach to standards helped foster the development of a national standards culture.

Since 2012, local authorities have been required to promote and maintain high standards of conduct by their Members. There is no national model Code. Instead, it is mandatory for local authorities to adopt principles-based regulation - a Code of their own choosing, based on the Seven (Nolan) Principles of Public Life. The Department for Communities and Local Government has published an "illustrative text" and other bodies (notably the Local Government Association and the National Association of Local Councils) have also published model codes. Certain matters of financial misconduct were made criminal offences.

Elected Members' public lives and private lives

Under the 2001 Code, most provisions of the Code did not have effect on actions undertaken "other than in an official capacity", except that conduct which brought the Member's office into disrepute were covered by the code whether made in an "official capacity, or any other circumstance".

The leading case involved comments made by Ken Livingstone (then Mayor of London) to a journalist having left an official function. The allegation - with which the Adjudication Panel agreed - was that Mr Livingstone's conduct had breached the provision that "A Member must not, in his official capacity, or in any other circumstance, conduct himself in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing his office or authority into disrespect". The finding in the case was that Mr Livingstone was not acting in his official capacity, as he had left the official function, but that he had nonetheless breached the provision. However, in the High Court Mr Livingstone argued that the Code should not cover conduct from a Member's private life. The High Court ruled that the Code could apply to private acts when they were linked to the position as a councillor, and therefore that unlawful conduct was not necessarily covered by the Code. Collins J observed in his judgement in the case: "There is a danger in regarding any misconduct as particularly affecting the reputation of the office rather than the man. … Misuse of the office can obviously bring disrepute on the office, but personal misconduct will be unlikely to do so."[206]

The Committee on Standards in Public Life's Tenth Report, published a year before the Livingstone case was concluded (2005), had highlighted the difficulties of making a distinction under the Code between private and public life, commenting that:

    The relationship between standards of conduct by public office-holders acting in their official capacity, and conduct in their private lives has been a difficult and contentious issue over the years. The Committee in its First Report drew a significant difference between, for example, sexual misconduct and financial misbehaviour. We indicated that while rules could be usefully drawn up for the latter, they could not for the former. This has remained the case in all of its subsequent reports and recommendations. The Committee has concentrated on standards of conduct in respect of public, rather than private life except where private interests, financial or otherwise could give rise to a potential conflict of interest with an office-holders' public role. The public attitudes research published by the Committee indicated that the public place a lower priority on public office-holders setting a good standard in their private lives than they do in respect of public conduct.[207]

When the Code was revised in 2007, it was clarified that the disrepute provisions covered serious criminal offences conducted in the Member's private capacity. The broader question of how "disrepute" ought to be defined was left unaddressed. For the Code to be engaged other than by acts of a serious criminal nature, the Member complained of, at the time of the alleged misconduct, had to be holding the office of councillor and also to be acting in her or his official capacity.

Leadership on ethical standards

The changes to the ethical framework from May 2008 put Standards Committees "at the heart of" the system.[208] Standards Committees generally met six times each year to receive investigatory reports and monitor standards more generally.[209] With the augmentation of the Independent (Lay) Membership of Standards Committees, the Committees came to have a key role in providing ethical leadership to councils. At Oxford City Council, Independent Members of the Standards Committee showed leadership by attending the standards training given to Members; officials ensured that training was run across multiple parallel sessions to maximise the ability of councillors to attend, with further dates being offered; councillors themselves showed commitment to that training by adopting a rule that failure to complete the Code of Conduct training by a specified date resulted in the Councillor having her or his basic allowance cut by 15 per cent until she or he had completed the training.

The relationship between the Committee and the party groups was also essential in developing the standards culture. In Oxford, the Independent Chair and Vice-Chair, the Monitoring Officer, and party Group Leaders, met together informally every six months. It was important to get buy-in from the groups as to the importance of ethical conduct generally and the standards system in particular. There was no formal agenda, no minutes were taken; but it was an opportunity to refract through recent cases and to share good practice. It was not a case of saying "come on, this is how you behave". Elected Members of the Standards Committee could also be a conduit for generating understanding between the Committee and Councillors. Ethical leadership was a partnership between the Standards Committee (especially through its Lay Members), officers, and key elected Members.

That Leadership is essential for the good functioning of local government standards can also be seen as a weakness of the system. In its 2013 report, the CSPL welcomed the requirement for local authorities to adopt a Code of Conduct based on the Nolan Seven Principles of Public Life; but observed that "Due to the emphasis on local ownership of standards we would expect the new regime, like the previous one, to function well in those areas where party leaders are prepared to provide the necessary leadership and example. It is likely to do less well where such leadership is inadequate." [210] This tendency for ethics regimes to work best where good standards already exist was found by Cowell, Downe, and Morgan, in research conducted in mid-2008 on the ethical framework for local government in England, who observed the ethical framework had had a positive impact on the ethical conduct of local politicians; but the nature of this impact varies according to "the social, political and organizational context of local government".[211] The attitudes of elected Members, and political groups, are crucial to the effective functioning of any formal standards regime mechanisms.

Lay Members

In the period 2001-08, many local Standards Committees included Lay Members, often coopted, but there were no requirements for the inclusion of Lay Members. Research for SBE in 2005 found that 66 per cent of Standards Committees were chaired by an Independent Member and 28 per cent contained members of the local executive; the composition of the committees ranged from three to 15 members, with the average being seven members including two or three Independent Members.[212] CSPL in 2005 urged legislation to require that Standards Committees have both an Independent Member as chair, and a majority of Independent Members as a whole.[213] Some local authorities, however, worried about finding enough suitable candidates to fill these roles.[214]

From 2008-12, Standards Committees were required to comprise at least 25% Independent (Lay) Members (all of whom had a vote); no more than one elected Member could be from the authority's Executive, and at least two Members must be from local parish councils - nationally, the bulk of complaints related to Parish Councillors, and there was a utility in having Parish members of a standards committee, both to provide local knowledge and to engage parishes with standards issues. Oxford City Council came to have 12 Members on its Standards Committee: 5 elected, 5 Independent, 2 Parish; previously-coopted Lay Members themselves went through the proper recruitment practice under the new regime and new Lay Members were recruited. A Standards Committee and any sub-committees had to be chaired by an Independent (Lay) Member; their quorum was three. Some local authorities were able to recruit multiple, high-calibre Independent Members; others struggled to find volunteers to fill their 25% minimum quota.

The Localism Act abolished the role of Independent Members of Standards Committees, but created the role of Independent Person. Each local authority must appoint, by a proper process, at least one Independent Person, who can be consulted by the Monitoring Officer, and also by the accused Member and the Standards Committee (if the authority has one) itself. The role of the Independent Person is advisory, and does not have a vote on any council committee.

The reduction of lay involvement in the new standards regime, compared with its predecessor, has been criticised by CSPL, which reported of the requirement to consult with an Independent Person that "We doubt that this will be sufficient to provide assurance that justice is being done and, equally important, that it is seen to be done." [215]

The investigatory process

Under the Standards Board regime from 2001 to 2008, all complaints against local councillors were made directly to SBE in the first instance. SBE's Adjudication Panel determined whether or not to investigate. SBE informed an elected Member that they were subject to a complaint only after its initial assessment had taken place (i.e. once the decision whether or not to refer for investigation had been completed). That was in line with other bodies' practice at the time; and there were arguments both for and against earlier notification. Yet, it was broadly seen as unfair not to inform an elected Member when others were told.[216] Any investigation was carried out on behalf of SBE by one of its Ethical Standards Officers (sometimes helped by local authorities; Monitoring Officers), though some cases were thereafter referred back to the local authority for determination.

From 2008 to 2012, under local determination, complaints were received in the first instance by the local authority concerned. Complaints had to be put in writing and could be made in hard copy or by e-mail. Anonymous complaints could not be considered unless there was accompanying documentary or photographic material giving evidence of an especially serious matter. A complaint, on being received, would be referred to an Assessment Panel (in effect, a sub-committee of the Standards Committee), comprising two Lay Members and one elected Member. This would determine, in effect, if there was a case to answer (does the Code apply? if so, does it merit investigation?). If there was, it could refer for "alternative action" (resolution without investigation - e.g. Member training; reconciliation between a Member and a complainant; etc - falling short of a formal sanction following a full investigation) or authorise an investigation. The Assessment Panel could decline to consider complaints which appeared to be outside the scope of the Code, or not sufficiently serious, or were untimely, or lacked sufficient information, or appeared to be malicious or politically-motivated. However, it was important, too, that the Assessment Panel took a complete view of whether the conduct alleged might constitute a breach of the Code: it would not have been right to require that a complainant specify the particular aspect of the Code which had been breached (though most attempted to do so). A separate similarly-constituted Review Panel could conduct a re-hearing of the Assessment Panel's decision if it was appealed. If the case was referred for investigation, members of these Panels were not disbarred from adjudicating on the final report, since they had made no finding about the substance of the allegation.

Where a matter was referred for investigation, the Monitoring Officer (a council official, usually a senior lawyer or similar) or someone appointed by them would carry out that investigation and make a report to the full Standards Committee for adjudication, and if necessary determination of sanction. Councils could outsource their investigations, for example to neighbouring local authorities' officers, to avoid an internal conflict of interest or to provide the necessary administrative capacity to ensure a timely investigation. The role of the Monitoring Officer, and their relationship with the Standards Committee, was crucial not only in resolving standards complaints but in promoting compliance with the Code and so avoiding complaints in the first place: Cowell, Downe, and Morgan, found that, overall, "compliance with the code was enhanced where councillors trusted the person responsible for overseeing the ethical framework, and the judgements that they made."[217]

Some Monitoring Officers nationally had been concerned by a potential conflict of duty between their two duties relating to the standards process after devolution from the Standards Board: (a) to advise the Council and individual elected members about appropriate standards of conduct; (b) to advise the Standards Committee, especially in relation to alleged breaches of the Code of Conduct, and to investigate such alleged breaches. To avoid this, some Monitoring Officers chose to farm out specific advice in response to individuals' requests for guidance to junior colleagues (so as to avoid the risk, during an investigation, of being called to adjudicate on their own advice) whilst retaining a leadership role in general standards training.

From 2012, local authorities are no longer required to have a Standards Committee, and the role of the Assessment and Review Panels has been discontinued. The Monitoring Officer will often consult the Independent Persons before taking a view on whether or not to take no action, to resolve matters informally, or to refer the case for investigation; but she or he may decide to act alone at the initial stage (the Monitoring Officer must consult the Independent Persons following a formal investigation). A formal investigation may result in a hearing before a committee of the authority (the Standards Committee where one exists). Some local authorities have established other mechanisms, for example having a Standards Panel, composed of an Independent Person and others who are not Members, to consider an investigation report and to advise the relevant committee.[218]

Support for Members investigated

Support for Members accused of a breach of the Code has, for the most part, been informal (peer support from their fellow Members), although they were not barred from seeking legal advice. Under the 2012 regime, an accused Member may, additionally, consult with one or more of the local authority's Independent Persons to seek their advice; but the need for Independent Persons to remain objective means that they cannot represent or otherwise make a case on behalf of an accused Member.

Conduct of hearings

Under both the 2008 and the 2012 regimes, where a case resulted in a hearing to consider an investigation report, the accused could attend the hearing and make representations to the Standards Committee, or make representations in writing. Witnesses could be called, and examined, as required. That Committee was required, before 2012, to have an Independent Member Chair and a substantial Independent membership. Since 2012 hearings take place before Standards Committees (where they exist), which are required to be politically-balanced and to have no voting Independent (Lay) Members: such committees, however well they function, are open to the criticism that they can be perceived as being regular, politically-constituted, committees.

Holding hearings in public. Nolan's 1997 recommendation included that Standards Committees should hear cases in public (with their deliberations in private); a disciplinary hearing should have before it a written report prepared by an officer; affected parties should have a right to be heard.[219]

From 2008-12, guidance from SBE advised that, in most cases, the public interest in transparent decision-making would outweigh the interest of an elected Member in limiting the publication of an unproved allegation. Usually, therefore, a written investigation report was circulated and considered at a meeting of a Standards Committee held in public. The Standards Committee could exclude the press and public from a meeting, and exempt any papers from publication, by applying a public interest test,[220] and some cases were heard in closed session according to these provisions. Since 2012, if a local authority holds standards committee hearings, the same applies: the presumption is that they are to be held in public, unless a public interest test can be satisfied.

Assessment Panel and Review Panel deliberations under the 2008-12 regime were held in private. These private deliberations of sub-panels containing lay and elected members, in the presence of the Monitoring Officer, meant that members of the Standards Committee learned a great deal: they were able to explore issues and take advice, debating half-formed views in private before coming to a collective view which was made public.

Appeals procedures. Under the 2001 regime, a Member was able to appeal an Adjudication Panel for England decision to the High Court; any case referred for determination by a local authority's Standards Committee could be appealed to the Adjudication Panel for England. Under the 2012 procedures, a determination can be appealed through the courts.[221]


Until 2012, sanctions covered a very wide spectrum. The sanctions (from 2001 imposed by SBE and from 2008 by the local standards committee) included:(i) censure; (ii) restriction of up to 6 months on a Member's access to the premises and/or resources of the Authority; (iii) full, or partial, suspension of the Member for up to 6 months; (iv) a requirement for a Member to make a written apology to a specified sanction; (v) a recommendation that a Member undergo training. The First Tier Tribunal could suspend or disqualify a Member for up to 12 months.

Since the Localism Act, the only sanctions available to a local standards committee are to censure the Member or to remove that Member from a council committee. Some new matters - deliberately withholding or misrepresenting a financial interest - have been made specific criminal offences, and so are subject to potential prosecution in the Magistrates' Courts by the Crown Prosecution Service (these are summary only, and the maximum punishment on conviction is a fine and/or disqualification from holding office for up to 5 years). A survey of 74 local authorities conducted in autumn 2013 showed that 85 per cent of authorities thought the sanctions under the new regime were too weak, and only 2 per cent thought they were too tough.[222]

Under the Localism Act regime, there is a significant lacuna in sanctions between censure and criminal prosecution. CSPL observed in 2013 that "The last few years have seen a number of examples of inappropriate behaviour which would not pass the strict tests required to warrant a criminal prosecution, but which deserves a sanction stronger than simple censure. While censure may carry opprobrium in the political arena it is often considered unacceptably lenient by the public relative to other areas of their experience. Coercion of other members or officers is one category of offence with which it will be difficult to deal adequately under the new arrangements." [223] Moreover, concerns have been expressed that the lack of "teeth" of local authority standards committees undermines the standards system and makes it less likely that an accused Member will cooperate with any investigation.[224]

Standards Committees and the Media

Under local determination from 2008-12, Standards Committee findings were often published as "decision notices" as soon as practicable after the end of the Committee's hearings, or after an Assessment Panel had decided that there was no case to investigate. They included: (i) the name of the Member complained of; (ii) the name of the complainant; (iii) a summary of the complaint; (iv) a summary of the process of investigation; (iv) the areas of the Code engaged; (v) a written decision and the reasons for this. On occasions when a motion to exclude press and public from a hearing was being considered, good practice suggested that the press should be permitted to attend the start of the meeting to make representations arguing against such a motion; where such a motion was passed, good practice suggested that a reasoned decision notice and an appropriately-redacted version of any reports considered at the hearing would be made available as soon after the meeting as possible, and the press liaised with. Under the Localism Act's procedures the outcomes of a committee's deliberations on a report are usually be reported in a similar way.


It seems that membership and sanctions go hand-in-hand. The risk of being subject to a substantial sanction forces the engagement of all elected members against whom allegations are levelled. A robust process with a substantial independent (lay) element ensures that any findings or sanction cannot be dismissed as a political stitch-up. Both effective sanctions and lay membership, therefore, give the standards system credibility.

A common feature of the 2001 and 2012 regimes is that they were introduced too quickly, with the regulations and orders required to make the regimes functional being passed only just before the new system came into effect (2012 regime) or, indeed, some time afterwards (2001 regime).

The standards regimes may not have increased trust in local government. Macauley and Lawton, noting that "standards of conduct in English local government are generally very high" and that 2004 MORI polling data found that 35 per cent of people trusted local councillors, concluded that "significant reforms have been implemented, with seemingly little effect on public perceptions, to solve a problem that did not appear to exist in the first place", though they noted that these data on the trust of local councillors "are, of course, relative and are an improvement on the 18% that trust politicians generally."[225] Overall, public distrust of local government had not, by 2006, been reduced by the 2001 standards regime.

Chris Ballinger

15 December 2014

Summary of Standards arrangements, 2001-12 and 2012-
Local Government under the Standards Board for England, 2001-12 Local Government at present: the impact of the Localism Act 2011
Governing Legislation Local Government Act 2000 laid out an ethical framework for circa 100,000 elected Members in England and circa 16,000 in Wales. Amended by Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 Localism Act 2011 substantially altered the prevailing Local Government standards regime in England and abolished the overarching regulatory quango Standards for England.
Implementation date 2001 (amended by the Local Authorities (Model Code of Conduct) Order 2007, which devolved assessment to councils from May 2008) 1 July 2012
Code of Conduct Statutory Code of Conduct for Members (including Independent Members of the Standards Committee). Code is engaged only when a person is acting in an official capacity. Each local authority can, if it wishes, add requirements to (though not subtract from) the statutory code, although the Standards Board for England advised caution in this. Mandatory to adopt a local Code of Conduct based on the (Nolan) Seven Principles of Public Life. No statutory Code - local authorities are required to responsibility for determining their own Code which fulfils their statutory duty - although various examples have been published.
SanctionsMaximum sanction is suspension (or partial suspension) as a councillor for up to 6 months (originally 3 months). First-tier Tribunal can suspend for up to 12 months. Other sanctions include censure, apology in a specified form, reconciliation, requirement to complete training. Censure by local authority or removal from a committee are the only sanctions available.
Standards Committee Required by the Act. Chaired by an Independent Member. Must have minimum of 1 Independent Member and 2 political members. If larger than 3 people, Committee must have minimum 25% Independent Members. Tasks are to assess initial complaints (i.e. does complaint merit investigation), review these assessments, and to conduct hearings following an investigation. Now no longer required. If a local authority chooses to have a Standards Committee its status is as any other committee and its membership rules are the same as for the usual political balance rules for the authority (e.g. requirement for political balance under the standard legislation). Lack of independence and impartiality of Standards Committees leave them open to challenge under Article 6 of ECHR (right to a fair trial).

Independent Members Voting members of the Standards Committee (at least 25% of that Committee), including the Chair. Voting members on assessment panels and review panels (i.e. sub-committees, which must also have an Independent Member as Chair). Required to appoint at least one "Independent Person" through a proper recruitment process. Her or his views are sought (and taken into account) by the Monitoring Officer before investigation; also available to the Standards Committee (if there is one) and the accused Member. These are not "members" and cannot vote in committee, though some authorities have established an assessment panel chaired by an Independent Person.
Investigation of complaints Initially centralised - all complaints sent straight to the Standards Board for England (later Standards for England) which considered complaints from 2002. From 2003 SBE had power to refer results of investigations to councils for determination. More responsibility given to councils under the "local filter" from 2008. Initial assessments/reviews held in private; full hearings presumed to be heard in public. Local authority's Monitoring Officer will receive complaint and assess it: is the Code engaged; does it merit investigation; is alternative action justified? Independent Person may be consulted. (Usually more responsibility placed on the Council's Monitoring Officer than under previous standards regime.) Full hearings presumed to be heard in public.
Appeal Mechanism Subject to Judicial Review. First-tier tribunal can hear appeals. Local Government Ombudsman has some jurisdiction (remedy for personal injustice). Subject to Judicial Review. First-tier tribunal jurisdiction abolished. Local Government Ombudsman's jurisdiction unchanged.

196   Cm.3072-1 (Committee on Standards in Public Life, Standards of Conduct in Local Government in England, Scotland, and Wales (3rd report, Cm.3072, July1997), Vol.1), Nolan to Prime Minister: "Despite instances of corruption and misbehaviour, the vast majority of councillors and officers observe high standards of conduct." Back

197   Cm.3072-1, 17. Back

198   Cm.3072-1, 17. Back

199   Cm.3072-1, 3. Back

200   Cm.3072-1. Back

201   House of Commons ODPM: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Committee, The Role and Effectiveness of the Standards Board for England, Seventh Report of Session 2004-05 (HC60-1).  Back

202   HC Debs, 1 Feb 2005, Col.229WH. Back

203   New rules to ensure greater town hall transparency, DCLG press release, 28 June 2012  Back

204   See, for example, Transparency International UK's report, Corruption in Local Government: The Mounting Risks (October 2013). Back

205   Michael Macaulay and Alan Lawton, 'Changing the Standards?Assessing the Impact of the Committee for [sic] Standards in Public Life on Local Government in England' Parliamentary Affairs, Vol.59, No.3, 2006, 474-490, citing their research report for SBE. Back

206   Ken Livingstone v The Adjudication Panel for England [2006] EWHC 2533 (Admin), Para 41 (Mr Justice Collins). Back

207   Cm.6407 (Committee on Standards in Public Life, Getting the Balance Right: Implementing Standards of Conduct in Public Life (10th report, January 2005)), Para. 3.88. Back

208   Alan Lawton and Michael Macaulay, 'Localism in Practice: Investigating Citizen Participation and Good Governance in Local Government Standards of Conduct', Public Administration Review, Vol.74, Iss.1, 2013, 75-83, 77 Back

209   Ibid., 77 Back

210   Committee on Standards in Public Life, Annual Report 2012-13 (August 2013), 14-15. Back

211   Richard Cowell, James Downe, and Karen Morgan, 'The Ethical Framework for Local Government' Public Management Review, 13:3 (2011), 433-457, 435. Back

212   Cited in Macaulay and Lawton, n.10 above, 480. Back

213   Cm.6407, paras 353-5. Back

214   Macaulay and Lawton, n.10 above, 480. Back

215   Committee on Standards in Public Life, Annual Report 2012-13 (August 2013), 14-16. Back

216   HC60-1, Para 47. Back

217   Richard Cowell, James Downe, and Karen Morgan, 'The Ethical Framework for Local Government' Public Management Review, 13:3 (2011), 433-457, 443. Back

218   E.g. Herefordshire Council. also Michael Macauley, Gary Hickey, Norjahan Begun, Preparing for the New Standards Regime in English Local Government (Middlesbrough, Teeside University, 2012). Back

219   Cm.3072-1, 45. Back

220   Under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972. Back

221   On 30 August 2013, the Administrative Court granted permission to appeal against a Localism Act standards regime decision under the terms of the European Convention on Human Rights (including freedom of expression; standards committee is neither independent nor impartial). Back

222   Local Government Lawyer and Freeth Cartwright LLP survey.Cited in 'Raising the standards', Local Government Lawyer, 17 December 2013.  Back

223   Committee on Standards in Public Life, Annual Report 2012-13 (August 2013), 15. Back

224   e.g. 'Lawyers in Local Government echoes concerns over standards regime', Local Government Lawyer, 02 September 2013. Back

225   Michael Macaulay and Alan Lawton, n.10 above, 474. Back

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Prepared 10 February 2015