Parliament’s “Monitoring Officer” severely criticised

So what hope for district council monitoring officers getting it right?

Former sleaze watchdog questions whether Kathryn Hudson “applied sufficient rigour and detailed analysis” when she cleared the ex-minister

Kathryn Hudson, the parliamentary standards commissioner, is facing fresh questions over her judgment after a High Court judge found that an MP she cleared was willing to act in breach of Commons rules.

A former sleaze watchdog said that the ruling against Tim Yeo cast potential doubt on Mrs Hudson’s findings and highlighted the need for reform of the system regulating the behaviour of MPs.

Mrs Hudson ruled in 2013 that Mr Yeo did not have “an expectation of financial interest” when he met undercover reporters so could not have broken the MPs’ code when he offered to approach ministers on behalf of their fictitious client. She said there was “no evidence” that he had made such an offer.

However Mr Justice Warby, who examined the Commons rules, said it was clear from the evidence that the then chairman of the Commons energy committee was prepared “to do things which, if they had been done, would clearly have involved breaches of the code”, including that he had expressed a willingness to “approach ministers and civil servants” to benefit his prospective clients.

The judge also accused Mr Yeo of being “dishonest” in claiming in his evidence that he was joking when he appeared to suggest in the meeting that he had coached a business associate to give evidence to his committee.

Mr Yeo had made a similar claim to Mrs Hudson, who simply concluded that the remark “if intended as a joke, was unfortunate”. She cleared Mr Yeo of breaching the rules on lobbying ministers for financial reward and of bringing the Commons into disrepute.

On Wednesday Sir Alistair Graham, the former chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, said the ruling raised questions about whether Mrs Hudson had “applied sufficient rigour and detailed analysis when she was considering the allegations against Mr Yeo”.

Sir Alistair added that the contrast between the judgment and Mrs Hudson’s conclusions showed the need for “urgent reform” of the Commons standards committee, which approved her memo and published a full report exonerating Mr Yeo.
Mrs Hudson faced criticism earlier this year after ruling that Jack Straw and Sir Malcolm Rifkind did not break lobbying rules in a “cash for access” scandal exposed by the Telegraph and Channel 4’s Dispatches.

She also recently declined to open an investigation into Tom Watson, the deputy Labour leader, after receiving a complaint over his role in the decision to question Lord Brittan over an historic rape allegation.” …

East Devon Growth Point to become an “Enterprise Zone”

What does this mean?

“What benefits do Enterprise Zones offer for businesses?

Businesses basing themselves on Enterprise Zones can access a number of benefits:

Up to 100% business rate discount worth up to £275,000 per business over a 5 year period

Simplified local authority planning, for example, through Local Development Orders that grant automatic planning permission for certain development (such as new industrial buildings or changing how existing buildings are used) within specified areas

Government support to ensure that superfast broadband is rolled out throughout the zone, and, if necessary, public funding

100% enhanced capital allowances (tax relief) to businesses making large investments in plant and machinery on 8 Zones in Assisted Areas

IN OTHER WORDS: the one thing the “Growth Point” ISN’T doing, despite all the money spent on it, is growing – so it will be heavily subsidised in the hope that no- one will notice what an abject failure it has been so far!