Scotland Bill — Corruption or maladministration in local government — 12 May 1998

As amended (in the Committee), further considered.

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

New clause 2 would provide scrutiny and accountability in the Scottish Parliament. The debate that we have had in the past hour shows why proper scrutiny and accountability are required. The new clause relates to corruption and maladministration in local government, which should concern all those involved in local government in Scotland. There has been a litany of accusations of maladministration in parts of local government in Scotland, and we have tabled the new clause because of the failure of internal scrutiny.

It is not long since the Secretary of State and his colleagues arrived in Paisley to deal with allegations of scandal and corruption and the other problems afflicting the local Labour party. The headlines in the compliant Scottish press at the time referred to them as sleaze busters. We were told that they were going to sort the problems out once and for all, and that no stone would be left unturned. Now--a considerable time later--one inquiry has been completed and then ditched, and a separate inquiry is having to be held for which the House will have no locus, because it has not been set up by us although the matter is of great concern to us.

The failure of internal regulation in Paisley is a good example of why the Scottish Parliament should have some powers over local government in Scotland. The relationship between local government in Scotland and the Scottish Parliament will be extremely important.

Inquiries have been held into local government maladministration. The Labour party attempted such an inquiry in Glasgow. It was something of a kangaroo court and the charges were never made public. It ultimately collapsed because Millbank could not understand Scottish law, or at least that was the excuse. It was a complete farce and did party politics no good. If we want politics to be held in high regard, we must ensure that everything is above board. After the low turnout at the local government elections in England last week, all the political parties were talking about the need to explain the importance of local government and to foster a spirit of

12 May 1998 : Column 173

civic responsibility. Any inquiry into the behaviour of those who take part in local government should be fair and public. Those are important aspects of natural justice.

Question put , That the clause be read a Second time:--

The House divided: Ayes 132, Noes 323.

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Party Summary

Votes by party, red entries are votes against the majority for that party.

What is Tell? '+1 tell' means that in addition one member of that party was a teller for that division lobby.

What are Boths? An MP can vote both aye and no in the same division. The boths page explains this.

What is Turnout? This is measured against the total membership of the party at the time of the vote.

PartyMajority (No)Minority (Aye)BothTurnout
Con0 133 (+2 tell)083.3%
Independent Conservative1 00100.0%
Lab281 (+2 tell) 0067.9%
LDem32 0069.6%
PC3 0075.0%
SNP6 00100.0%
Total:323 133072.3%

Rebel Voters - sorted by party

MPs for which their vote in this division differed from the majority vote of their party. You can see all votes in this division, or every eligible MP who could have voted in this division

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no rebellions

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