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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - UNSATISFACTORY STANDARDS

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I read with surprise comments made by Standards Board for England chief executive David Prince on the Committee on ...
I read with surprise comments made by Standards Board for England chief executive David Prince on the Committee on Standards in Public Life's recommendation to the prime minister.

CSPL says independent local standards committees should undertake the initial handling and sifting of complaints against councillors under a national framework established and maintained by the Standards Board (LGC, 28 January). Under the framework, this would be a delegated power that could be removed from individual standards committees by the Standards Board if their performance in handling complaints is unsatisfactory.

Mr Prince has continued to misunderstand the proposals by stating: 'It comes down to public confidence and trust in self-regulation. People say [councillors] should not judge themselves'. As our report makes clear, a critical element of our recommendations is that the independence of local standards committees should be strengthened by a requirement for a majority of independent members and an independent chair. Councillors will not, therefore, be 'judging themselves'.

I welcome a robust public debate on the merits or otherwise of my committee's proposals in advance of a formal government response. However, that debate is not assisted by what appears to be the continued misrepresentation of the committee's proposals by the Standards Board for England.

Sir Alistair Graham

Chair, Committee on Standards in Public Life

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