Clause 8

Part of Local Authorities (Overview and Scrutiny) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:45 am on 3rd March 2010.

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Photo of Jacqui Lait Jacqui Lait Conservative, Beckenham 10:45 am, 3rd March 2010

I am most grateful to the right hon. Gentleman. I could not have put the point better myself. There is a potential resolution to the problem, because the issue of conflict of interest is very important and  could lead to a lot of trouble in the future. There are not many councils I know that could be browbeaten, but it is possible that an executive member could browbeat the other members of the overview and scrutiny committee, and that is not a satisfactory situation.

Obviously, the right hon. Member for Greenwich and Woolwich hopes that the Minister will reassure him, but I hope that it is possible to come forward with a joint amendment on Report to deal with the issue. My suggestion, as somebody who has observed local government but has never been part of it, is that the executive member could be a witness; they would then not need to be part of the overview and scrutiny committee. The witness could be called more than once if issues arose that affected any contract or local area agreement. That would be more satisfactory than putting the executive member in the unenviable position of having a conflict of interest, or of being accused of browbeating the committee.