Disclosable Pecuniary Interests for Members
June 12th, 2012 by Louise Humphreys
The Government has laid the regulations for disclosable pecuniary interests (DPIs) ahead of the new standards regime for local government coming into force on 1 July 2012.
Key features of the new standards framework include the requirement for local authorities to have a code of conduct based on the Nolan principles and the involvement of an 'independent person' in dealing with allegations of misconduct.
Relevant authorities will also have to maintain a register of pecuniary interests. A failure by members, including co-opted members, to comply with the arrangements on DPIs without reasonable excuse will be a new criminal offence, with a penalty of a fine of up to £5,000 and disqualification from office for up to five years.
The Relevant Authorities (Disclosable Pecuniary Interests) Regulations 2012 were made at the same time as the Localism Act 2011 (Commencement No.6 and Transitional, Savings and Transitory Provisions) Order, which confirms the new regime will come into force at the beginning of next month.
The Regulations provide that the following are to be DPIs
Employment, office, trade, profession or vocation
Any employment, office, trade, profession or vocation carried on for profit or gain.
Any payment or provision of any other financial benefit (other than from the relevant authority) made or provided within the relevant period in respect of any expenses incurred by the Member in carrying out duties as a member, or towards the election expenses of Member. This includes any payment or financial benefit from a trade union within the meaning of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992(1).
Any contract which is made between the relevant person (or a body in which the relevant person has a beneficial interest) and the relevant authority -
- under which goods or services are to be provided or works are to be executed; and
- which has not been fully discharged.
Any beneficial interest in land which is within the area of the relevant authority.
Any licence (alone or jointly with others) to occupy land in the area of the relevant authority for a month or longer.
Any tenancy where (to the Member's knowledge) -
- the landlord is the relevant authority; and
- the tenant is a body in which the relevant person has a beneficial interest.
Any beneficial interest in securities of a body where -
- that body (to the Member's knowledge) has a place of business or land in the area of the relevant authority; and
- the total nominal value of the securities exceeds £25,000 or one hundredth of the total issued share capital of that body; or
- if the share capital of that body is of more than one class, the total nominal value of the shares of any one class in which the relevant person has a beneficial interest exceeds one hundredth of the total issued share capital of that class.
The Commencement Order includes two transitional measures. These relate to the possibility of appointing as "independent person" someone who is not a member or co-opted member of the standards committee of the relevant authority on 1st July 2012 but who has held such a post at any time during the 5 years ending on 30th June 2012; this only applies to appointments made before 1 July 2013. The second transitional measure confirms that police authorities may continue to operate a local standards regime under previous legislation ahead of their abolition in November 2012.
The Commencement Order contains also sets out how complaints about a member's conduct that are not resolved by 1 July should be dealt with.