08 April 2005
Delays in handling complaints against councillors, which had led to criticism of the Standards Board for England, were caused mainly by the government's failings, senior MPs have ruled.
The board has been under fire for two years for allowing a backlog of cases to build up, with some taking well over a year to resolve.
But the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister select committee said in a report on April 6: 'In almost every instance the [delays] can be attributed to the government's failure to provide a complete legislative framework, rather than failings on the part of the board.'
Regulations that allow the board to pass less serious complaints to local standards committees took effect only last November.
The select committee rejected calls to scrap the requirement on councillors to report any suspected breach of the code of conduct by another councillor. It said that this clause might encourage politically malicious complaints, but its removal would undermine public confidence in local government probity.
MPs did, however, urge that the clause be limited to councillors' public roles, not activities in their private lives.