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ALG WELCOMES NEW ETHICAL FRAMEWORK

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The proposals to stamp out misconduct in local government - contained in a detailed consultation paper - have been ...
The proposals to stamp out misconduct in local government - contained in a detailed consultation paper - have been welcomed by the Association of London Government.

ALG chair Toby Harris said that the new measures would help weed out the tiny minority of members and officers whose actions damage the reputation of the whole of local government.

'There are 2,000 councillors and more than 150,000 council employees in London, and all but a few carry out their duties diligently and in the best interests of the communities they serve.

'The proposed powers for councils to adopt local codes, backed up by rigorous investigation of all complaints, will help stamp out fraud, corruption and other forms of misconduct and inappropriate behaviour perpetrated by the tiny minority in local government.'

However, Mr Harris said that he was disappointed that the system of surcharging could not be abolished yet because of delays in developing the alternative offence of misuse of public office, as recommended by the Nolan committee on standards in public life.

'Surcharging is unfair and should be abolished as soon as possible. It allows local councillors to be punished for conduct incurring financial loss for the authority - but not for other instances of serious misconduct - and is confined to local government. It allows the district auditor to act as investigator, prosecutor, judge and jury in such cases, which must be wrong.

'The sooner surcharge is replaced, so that cases can be properly dealt with through the criminal justice system, the better. It will also mean of course that other holders of public office who misuse their position - such as MPs, civil servants, the police, magistrates, the judiciary and members of quangos - can be prosecuted under the same terms as council officers and members.'

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