§ Mr. Wood
To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the impact of his proposals for reform of local government on enhancing(a) accountability, (b) openness and (c) probity; and what additional powers and resources will be made available for investigating and addressing complaints and malpractice. 
§ Mr. Leslie
Building on the reforms in the Local Government Act 2000, which have brought about new council constitutions and established a new ethical framework for local government, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is now implementing the next stage. As set out in our response to the Transport, Local Government and Regional Affairs Committee's report on the draft Local Government Bill, this Bill marks a key stage in the Government's commitment to giving all local authorities new freedoms and flexibilities.269W
Already under way is a long-term evaluation study of new council constitutions and the new ethical framework, which will establish the extent to which the reforms achieve the sought-for improvements in local authority efficiency, accountability and transparency.
As to additional measures for investigating and addressing complaints and malpractice, the Government intend in the new year to introduce regulations under the Local Government Act 2000 to provide for the handling by local standards committees of cases of alleged misconduct.