Upholding reputations, Safeguarding standards, addressing concerns – Independent Commissioner for Standards publishes annual report

Published 17/07/2012   |   Last Updated 14/07/2014

Upholding reputations, Safeguarding standards, addressing concerns – Independent Commissioner for Standards publishes annual report

17 July 2012

The National Assembly for Wales’s Independent Commissioner for Standards, Gerard Elias QC, has published his annual report.

In it he addresses the complaints received in 2011/12 and highlights the work he is doing to create a more accessible and transparent standards system.

“In my first full year as Commissioner for Standards I am pleased to be

able to report that there were no complaints against Assembly Members

which justified a reference to the Committee,” said Mr Elias.

“I believe that this demonstrates that both a culture of high standards has taken root in Wales and that the value of a transparent system of scrutiny of

standards which is fair, robust and proportionate, bears fruit.”

Although there were no admissible complaints which moved to the second stage investigation, complaints were submitted.

By far the largest group of inadmissible complaints were those which raised

questions about the “performance” of an Assembly Member – for example, those which referred to an alleged failure to respond to a constituent adequately or at all.

“Without wishing to suggest that performance could never become a

standards issue,” Mr Elias adds in the report.

“I am clear that for the most part, issues of how an Assembly Member performs his or her role are ultimately matters for the electorate at the ballot box.

“For a Commissioner to intervene in this area runs the very real risk of stepping into the democratic arena, which I should not do.”

In his report, the Commissioner also highlights the ongoing review that he is currently undertaking, in conjunction with the Assembly’s Standards of Conduct Committee.

“My role also 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,” the Commissioner said.

“In this regard there is a new procedure for dealing with complaints against Assembly Members which provides a more streamlined system but continues appropriately to balance the rights of Members against the public expectation that a robust investigation will follow any serious allegation.

“Stage two of the process of review, which the Committee approved late

last year, is now well under way.

“And, following the production of the new complaints procedure, will focus upon the adequacy of the Assembly’s Code of Conduct and Standing Orders, to include reconsideration of the sanctions available to the National Assembly when a Member is found to be in breach of some aspect of them.”

Commissioner for Standards Annual Report: 01 April 2011-31 March 2012