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ALG TELLS NOLAN: 'GET TOUGH ON QUANGOS'

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Serious improper conduct by councillors should be dealt with through the criminal justice system rather than just b...
Serious improper conduct by councillors should be dealt with through the criminal justice system rather than just by the threat of surcharge, the Association of London Government has told the Nolan Committee.

In its submission to Lord Nolan's study of conduct in local government, the ALG also calls for the rigorous standards that apply to council members and officers to be extended to apply to quangos and other public bodies.

'We have no quarrel with the very strict rules and regulations that apply to councils - it is clear that local authority members and officers should be seen to be above reproach. If only the same standards applied to the other non-elected public bodies that exist,' said ALG chair Toby Harris.

'The system of surcharge is a case in point. We see no justification for treating local government representatives and employees differently in this respect. We are quite happy for the isolated cases of serious improper conduct that occur from time to time to be dealt with through the criminal courts, rather than through the present convoluted and anachronistic system of surcharge.'

The ALG's other main recommendations include:

-- there should be the same requirement on quangos and other public bodies that now spend very significant amounts of public money to open their meetings to the press and public and for members to declare an interest

-- the criminal sanction for non-declaration of a pecuniary interest should be extended to other public sector bodies

-- political restrictions on officers that apply under the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 - a prime example of local authorities being treated from other public sector bodies - should be scrapped

-- clearer guidance on the acceptance of hospitality and non-pecuniary interests should be issued

-- members of local authorities and all other public bodies should have a duty to declare membership of organisations such as the freemasons.

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