Chris Seeks Clarity On LA Scrutiny Committee Composition
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, if he will take steps to require that overview and scrutiny committees established by local authorities in England are chaired by a councillor chosen by opposition councillors, or where there are no opposition councillors, chosen solely by backbenchers.
Kemi Badenoch Minister for Equalities, Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government), Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office), Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (jointly with Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
On 7 May 2019, the government published statutory guidance for local and combined authorities in England that sets out the role of scrutiny committees in holding authorities to account over local decision-making.
The guidance advises on how to select committee members and chairs to encourage effective and independent scrutiny. While there are proportionality requirements that must be met, the selection of the chair and other committee members is for each authority to decide for itself. Members of the executive cannot be members of a scrutiny committee.
The guidance states that chairs should pay special attention to the need to guard the committee’s independence. Importantly, however, they should take care to avoid the committee being, and being viewed as, a de facto opposition to the executive.
The guidance recognises that authorities have democratic mandates and are ultimately accountable to their electorates.
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