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					                                                                   CPL(08)53



                COMMITTEE ON STANDARDS IN PUBLIC LIFE
      TH
149        MEETING HELD ON WEDNESDAY 18th SEPTEMBER AT 35 GREAT
                      SMITH STREET, WESTMINSTER


Present:                Sir Christopher Kelly KCB
                        Dr Elizabeth Vallance JP
                        Rt Hon Alun Michael JP MP
                        Lloyd Clarke QPM
                        Oliver Heald MP
                        Dr Brian Woods-Scawen DL CBE
                        Sir Derek Morris MA Dphil
                        Dame Denise Platt DBE

Apologies:              Dame Patricia Hodgson DBE
                        Baroness Maddock



Secretariat:            Ruth Alaile, Secretary
                        Peter Hawthorne, Assistant Secretary
                        Matthew Dowding, Secretariat Co-ordinator
                        Maggie O’Boyle, Press Officer


The Agenda was agreed.


Summary record of 148h Meeting

   1. The minutes of the previous (148th) meeting of July, were
      approved.

           The following action was noted as ongoing:

              Website Re-design: The Committee were informed that the new
               website should be completed by end of September.
              Letter to the Rt Hon Jack Straw MP: The Chair will be writing to
               the Rt Hon Jack Straw MP seeking confirmation of the
               Government’s intention to implement the Committee’s
               recommendations on the mandate of the Electoral Commission.
              LGC Awards: Due to prior commitments the Committee had to
               decline an invitation to judge the LGC Award for Ethics and
               Standards.




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Register of Interests

   2. The latest Register was reviewed and amended by Members.

MPs’ Pay and Allowances

   3. The Committee noted the consultation by the Leader of the Commons
      on Audit and Assurance of MPs’ Allowances. It was agreed that the
      Committee should respond to the consultation.

   4. It was also agreed that the Committee should write to the Leader of the
      House suggesting the type of experience required by the two new
      independent nominees to the Advisory Panel on Members’ Allowances
      and invite her to attend a meeting to update the Committee on the
      progress being made to address the Committee’s concerns about the
      system for remunerating and supporting MPs.

Directly Elected Mayors

   5. The Committee considered the merits of undertaking an inquiry into
      elected mayoral models in the United Kingdom.

   6. It was felt that the topic should be broadened to include the ‘Cabinet
      Model’ in local government. Both of these new forms of local leadership
      raised issues about openness and transparency of decision-making
      and accountability. There were also questions about whether these
      changes had succeeded in improving trust in local governance and the
      perception that there were tensions between speedy and efficient
      decision-making and the system of ‘checks and balances’ that the
      Committee should explore.

   7. It was agreed that the topic of the Committee’s next inquiry should be
      on the subject of local leadership. It should be broad in scope and
      embrace local leadership in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Freedom of Information

   8. The Committee is on record as stating that it would conduct an inquiry
      on the Freedom of Information Act. There was a discussion about
      whether it was now the right time to conduct an inquiry into the
      workings and impact of the Act.

   9. It was noted that the Information Tribunal had only just started to rule
      on appeals, and that there were number of critical appeal judgements
      still in the pipeline. In the light of this it was suggested that the
      Committee should await the outcome of these judgements before
      taking a decision.




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   10. In the meantime, it was agreed that the topic of the Committee’s March
       seminar should be the Freedom of Information Act.

Response to the Consultation paper on Election Day: Weekend Voting

   11. The Committee discussed how it should respond to the Ministry of
       Justice consultation paper on Weekend Voting. The paper was seeking
       comment on the merits of moving Election Day from Thursday to the
       Weekend and on the best way to do this. The Committee’s main
       concern was to protect the integrity of the electoral system. It could not
       support an extension of remote voting until there were effective
       safeguards against the risk of electoral fraud. It was noted that the
       Open Rights Network, an advocate of electronic voting, had already
       expressed similar concerns. It was also felt that the Committee’s
       response should reiterate its call for a move to individual voter
       registration system.

   12. It was agreed that the Chair should approve the Committee’s response
       to this consultation.

Electoral Commission Report on Electoral Administration

   13. The Committee noted the Electoral Commission’s Report, Electoral
       Administration in United Kingdom. The Committee expressed concern
       that the report did not acknowledge the Committee’s Eleventh Report
       and its recommendations.

   14. It was agreed that the Committee should respond formally to the
       publication. This response should reiterate the findings of the Eleventh
       Report. It was also agreed that the Chair should write to the new
       incoming Chair of the Electoral Commission outlining the Committee’s
       concerns and its desire to work with her to address the issues
       identified.

Committee Programme of Seminars 2008/09

   15. The Committee considered the proposed seminar programme for
       2008/9. The Committee felt that these seminars should be ‘roundtable
       discussion’ events which would form part of the Committee’s ongoing
       general monitoring role. The following list of seminars were agreed for
       2008/09:

                    Elected Mayors (October 2008);
                    Findings of the Public Perception Survey (December
                     2008);
                    Freedom of Information Act (March 2009); and
                    Media and Perception of Standards (Summer 2009).




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Meeting Dates for 2009/10

   16. The Secretary circulated the list of meeting dates for 2009, and
       meeting dates for 2010.

Secretary’s Report

   17. The Secretary’s Report outlined the work and activities undertaken by
       the Secretariat since the last meeting.

   18. The Committee noted the items on the paper, including the
       correspondence between the Chair and Linda Fabiani MSP, Minister
       for Europe, External Affairs and Culture at the Scottish Government.

Current Issues and Concerns

   19. The Committee noted the items on the paper.


Secretariat
September 2008




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