Thursday 19 April 2007

Fettered Discretion

In talking about my views on various issues, I have to be careful that I don't disqualify myself from voting on those issues.

The Committee on Standards in Public Life requires that official decisions should be made by people with open minds, based upon the facts available at the time the decision is made. I think that's reasonable. Clearly it's hard to do if you've already committed yourself to a view.

For example, if you make public your views on a planning matter, before the application is submitted, then you may disqualify yourself from voting on the matter. It's reasonable to outline concerns - they can be used by the applicant to modify their application - but not reasonable to say that the application is either acceptable or unacceptable before the application is in.

This is a difficult area, because voters have a right to ask my opinions on various issues. And, they have a right to know what kind of person they're electing. Do I share their concerns? Will I support their views? All I can say is that I'll try to answer any questions as fully as possible. And, I'll indicate where I'm unable to express myself fully.

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