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By LGCnet political correspondent Robert Hedley...
By LGCnet political correspondent Robert Hedley

The government will not introduce legislation requiring local authorities to implement recommendations from the local ombudsman, Christopher Leslie, minister in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, told MPs.

He told Kevin Brennan, Labour MP for Cardiff West, said that to maintain the independence of the public sector ombudsmen, the government did not intend to shift the balance and compel councils to implement all ombudsmen reports.

'Councils are accountable first to their electorates. However, audit and inspection will become more important for local government as the new system of comprehensive performance assessment comes into effect', added the minister.

Mr Brennan said that in this 'era of earned autinomy and modernisation' local authorities should be made to be accountable when citizens successfully show themselves to be victims of municipal maladministration.

He was supported by Sydney Chapman, Conservative MP for Chipping Barnet, who said if recommendations were not implemented, that made a mockery of the ombudsman's role.

Mr Leslie replied: 'The ombudsmen say that they are dissatisfied with only about 3% of local authority responses to recommendations. It would not be right to jeopardise the ombudsmen's independence, but I am sure that we all want local authorities to respond fully and comprehensively to the ombudsmen's recommendations'.

Hansard 16 Oct 2002: Column 304-305

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