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SCOTTISH EXECUTIVE PUBLISHES DRAFT ETHICAL STANDARDS BILL

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The Scottish executive has published details of the draft Bill on ethical standard in public life, which will give ...
The Scottish executive has published details of the draft Bill on ethical standard in public life, which will give the 'anti-sleaze watchdog' powers to suspend or bar councillors from office.

The Scotsman (p10) reports that Frank McAveety, the Scottish deputy minister for local government, yesterday told Parliament that public confidence in public life demanded the highest ethical standards.

'All too often, the reputation of the many has been undermined by the publicity given to the misdemeanours of the few,' he said.

The proposals, which will introduce stringent codes of conduct for councils and public bodies, were mooted last year after a series of sleaze and mismanagement allegations involving councils.

Under the draft Bill, an independent standards commission will be appointed by the executive to supervise councils. It will be led by a chief investigating officer who will be given powers to look into all allegations of impropriety 'with impartiality and consistency'.

The commission will have powers ranging from the censure of a councillor found to have breached an ethics code of conduct to disqualification from office for up to five years. There will also be a power enabling it to suspend a councillor from attending any meeting for up to 12 months.

Pat Watters, vice-president of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, welcomed the inclusion of quangos in the draft Bill, but voiced reservations that it affected only councillors. He called for a framework of principles for standards which would apply to everyone in public life - 'be that a councillor, an MP, and MEP, a member of a quango or an MSP'.

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