HC Deb 19 December 2000 vol 360 c136W
Mr. Cawsey

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he intends to publish regulations on access to information under local authority executive constitutions. [143688]

Ms Armstrong

I have been asked to reply.

I have today laid before the House the Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2000. These regulations govern meetings of the executive under new local authority constitutions, recording of executive decisions and access to papers relating to executive decision making.

The regulations introduce a rigorous new regime of accountability. For the first time, the public will have a right to more than three days' notice of key decisions which will affect the local community. For the first time, key officer decisions will be notified to the public in advance and be open to public scrutiny afterwards. In addition, the regulations are clear that where these key decisions are to be decided collectively by the executive or its committees, the public has a right to see those decisions being taken or discussed in advance with officers.

I have also today published the revised chapter of the statutory guidance under Part II of the Act, which deals with access to information. This reinforces the intention of the regulations to ensure that there is a proper culture of transparency and accountability around executive decision making.

Modular constitutions for local authorities are also published today. These are designed to assist local authorities who are drawing up proposals for new constitutions. Councils who follow the proposals in this document will be able to design a constitution which meets the aims of efficiency, transparency and accountability of decision making which underpin Part II of the Local Government Act.

I am also publishing a direction under s37 of the Act today. This sets out what a council's new constitution must contain and a revised chapter of the guidance has been issued to accompany the direction.

Copies of all these documents are available in the Library of the House.