New Clause 1 – Members of local authorities: disqualification relating to drink and drug driving offences (England)

On Jan 14 Sir Christopher Chope MP sought to introduce a new clause during the third reading of the Local Government (Disqualification) Bill which would, amongst other things, ban those with a drink driving offence from being a local councillor. 

The Local Government (Disqualification) Bill is a private member’s bill. The core purpose of this legislation is to prevent those convicted of sexual offences from having a role as a local elected official that could include access to children and vulnerable adults, and the length of their disqualification would be the length of time that they are subject to the notification requirement.

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This struck Owl as interesting in the light of local Conservative recent preoccupation on DBS checks. It is also interesting because Owl can think of at least one “Senior” Tory Councillor who would be disqualified from office by the amendment clause, were it to become law.

 Sir Christopher’s reasoning for his amendment was a follows:

“My view, reflected in new clause 1, is that councillors who fall below the standards expected in relation to drink and drug driving offences should be included in the category of those who are disqualified from being able to serve as councillors and mayors. I think that they fall four-square within the Government’s definition of having been convicted of behaviour which everyone in a right-minded society would say was intolerable. Why should people who are in that position be allowed to continue as councillors while other councillors who have been convicted of a different set of antisocial offences are excluded? That is the essence of new clause 1. If someone is convicted of driving or being in charge of a motor vehicle with excess alcohol or a controlled drug, they should not be able to hold office as an elected councillor in this country.”

In fact, after debate, Sir Christopher withdrew the amendment.