Committee Welcomes Bill to Create an Independent Commissioner for Standards

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 15 November 2010

Reference: SP 01/10/11

A landmark was reached today at the Northern Ireland Assembly with the introduction of the Northern Ireland Assembly Members (Independent Financial Review and Standards) Bill.

If the Bill is passed, it will lead to the establishment of an independent Northern Ireland Assembly Commissioner for Standards who will carry out investigations into allegations of misconduct by MLAs. The Bill will also make it an offence to refuse to give the Commissioner evidence or produce documents when requested.

Declan O’Loan MLA, Chairperson of the Assembly Committee on Standards and Privileges said: “I welcome the introduction of this Bill which will create an independent Commissioner for Standards. As recommended by the Committee on Standards in Public Life, the Bill will enable the Commissioner to initiate an investigation into a Member’s conduct if the Commissioner believes that a breach of the Code of Conduct may have occurred. The Committee believes that giving the Commissioner such a power will enhance public confidence in how MLAs are held to account.”

Willie Clarke MLA, Deputy Chairperson of the Committee on Standards and Privileges said: “The introduction of this Bill represents a further step in strengthening how MLAs are accountable, in an open and transparent manner, for high standards of conduct in office. I look forward to the Assembly’s consideration of this important Bill.”

With Assembly agreement, it is intended that the legislation should be passed by February or March of 2011.

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