HC Deb 25 May 1977 vol 932 cc478-9W
Mr. Mike Thomas

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether, in the light of the judgment given by the Divisional Court on 15th February 1977, in reinvestigation into complaint against Liverpool City Council, he will make a statement about the disclosure to local commissioners of information and documents which in their opinion are relevant to investigations into complaints of alleged maladministration.

Mr. Shore

The Government fully share the concern expressed by the Commissions for Local Administration in England and Wales and the Commissioner for Local Administration in Scotland about the practical consequences of the judgment given in this case. It is the Government's intention to seek an appropriate opportunity to amend Section 32(3) of the Local Government Act 1974 and Section 30(3) of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1975 to ensure that local commissioners have an unrestricted right of access to such information and documents as are relevant to the conduct of their investigations. In so doing it will be the Government's intention to achieve a result similar to that achieved by Section 11(3) of the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967 and thus to provide that, whatever restriction a Minister or an authority may seek to impose in the public interest on disclosure by a local commissioner, they must nevertheless supply him with such information and documents as he requires in the course of his investigation.

I am confident that pending the introduction of such legislation the authorities subject to investigation under the respective Acts will co-operate to the fullest extent with the local commissioners.