Assembly’s Standards Commissioner publishes annual report in year that saw role given extra teeth
5 October 2011
The National Assembly for Wales’s Commissioner for Standards, Gerard Elias QC, has today (Wednesday 5 October) published his first annual report.
Mr Elias was appointed to the role in December 2010 following the successful passage of an Assembly Measure that saw the office given extra powers to investigate complaints about Assembly Members.
In his first annual report as Commissioner, Mr Elias reveals that 17 complaints about Members were made in 2010-11, of which nine were inadmissible.
He also sets out his views on how the strengthened role could build on the work of the previous Commissioner Richard Penn, and how it should be used to promote the highest standards in public life in Wales.
“Under the Measure, my role is not simply to seek to safeguard standards, but also to be proactive in promoting and encouraging the highest standards of conduct in the important public office of Assembly Member,” said Mr Elias.
“First, in this regard, I have promoted, and shall continue to promote, a culture in which it is accepted that we are all in this together – that is to say, it is the reputation of the National Assembly and its Members which we all seek to safeguard and improve – and that my role is not to be seen as being an adversary of any Member, still less the Assembly.
“This is not to suggest, of course, that I shall do anything other than rigorously enforce standards, and where it is called for, subject a Member to searching inquiry and investigation.
“Secondly, I am anxious to dispel any myth that standards are kept in a box to be brought out on high days and holidays. The appropriate standards for Assembly Members are not optional or reserved for special occasions. They are an all-embracing part of a Member’s existence whilst on Assembly business and should quickly become second nature to each one – if they are not already.
“Thirdly, but not lastly, the electorate rightly expect high standards of their representatives. My role involves ensuring that the public have access to a complaints mechanism which calls to account where necessary and which deals with matters in a user friendly and efficient manner from their point of view.”
- Between 1 April and 30 November 2010, five complaints were received by the then Standards Commissioner, Richard Penn. All five complaints, which related to alleged breaches of the Code of Conduct for Assembly Members, were deemed to be inadmissible. No complaints remained open when Richard Penn’s appointment as Standards Commissioner ceased on 30 November 2010.
-Between December 2010 to March 2011, 12 complaints and preliminary complaints were logged. Four of these were rejected as inadmissible. The Commissioner for Standards’ investigations into the other eight continued into 2011-12. Mr Elias will report on the admissibility of these complaints in his annual report for next year.