The third report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, published July 1997
In its Third Report, the Committee said that it had found local government to be far more constrained by rules governing conduct than any other part of the public sector it had examined. The Committee noted that attempting to enforce good conduct through detailed rules could itself contribute to wrongdoing, and that, as a result, it was unsurprising that a lack of clarity over standards of conduct persisted in local government. The Report stated, however, that, despite some instances of corruption and impropriety, the vast majority of councillors and officers observed high standards of conduct.
The Report contained 39 recommendations calling for a fundamental restructuring of the framework of standards and discipline for councillors and officers; the replacement of the then National Code of Local Government Conduct by individual codes tailored to the needs of each council; abolition of surcharge; and new rules on registration and declaration of interests. The intention was to achieve clarity about standards of conduct at the same time as giving greater responsibility to local government itself for devising and regulating those standards.
Since the report was published, responsibility for local government in Scotland and Wales has been devolved.