Agenda item

Reviewed and Updated Wardmote Book

A joint report of the Town Clerk and Chief Executive and the Comptroller and City Solicitor relative to an updated version of the Wardmote Book: the City Corporation’s technical manual for ward elections. 


The Committee received a joint report of the Town Clerk and Chief Executive and the Comptroller and City Solicitor relative to the reviewed and updated Wardmote Book: the technical manual for Ward elections.


The Chairman advised Members that the report had been received by the Policy and Resources Committee at its meeting on 14 October 2021 and the following points had been made:-


-       whilst the report had been presented to Members as an information item, Members felt that it was important that there were on-going opportunities for Members of the Court to debate the Wardmote Book.

-       three substantive policy points were raised, these being:-

(i)            in respect of page 5 of the Wardmote Book, at the Committee’s request Counsel’s opinion would shortly be requested by the Comptroller and City Solicitor on the issue of licenses and serviced offices;

(ii)           on the issue of eligibility to stand for Aldermanic elections, an Act of Common Council was now being progressed by the Comptroller and City Solicitor;

(iii)          as an Act of Common Council to address the issue of Aldermanic qualifications was to be progressed, it had been agreed that the issue of Representative Lord Mayors and their role at Wardmotes, as a mechanism to avoid conflicts of interest, also be dealt with in the Act of Common Council.


The Comptroller and City solicitor confirmed that the Court of Aldermen would be sighted on the drafting of the proposed Act of Common Council in due course. He also invited any further comments in respect of the drafting of the Wardmote Book.


With regards to the issue of “workforce” and how this was determined, Members were advised that this point had been clarified in the Wardmote Book but that there may need to be an evolutionary process to this aspect going forward.


With regards to the use of RLM’s at Wardmotes, Members welcomed the flexibility that would be introduced through the Act of Common Council, widening things out in terms of both the Common Council and Aldermanic elections. In view of the Ward elections in March 2022 and the Aldermanic elections that were anticipated, it was agreed that the changes must be in place before March 2022.


With reference to page 16 (paragraph 8) of the Wardmote Book, the Chairman advised that an important drafting point had been raised ahead of the meeting of the Policy and Resources Committee by Alderman Howard and this had been passed to the Comptroller and City Solicitor for action.


With regards to use of “British Subject” in the Wardmote Book, the City Remembrancer confirmed that this was a convoluted topic. The meaning of “British Subject” depended on the Act to which it was referable, hence the confusion of application before and after 1981, as the term had changed over time. It was noted that the proposed Act of Common Council would allow for the correct terminology to be clarified as on-going references to different clauses ultimately caused confusion. Members were advised that where clarity about the terminology was required in the Wardmote Book, this would be provided.


In response to a query the Chairman confirmed that the issue of residency for Aldermanic candidates would be addressed.


Alderman Hughes-Penney referred to the requirement for new Aldermen to take the Oath of Allegiance to the Sovereign and the apparent contradiction if the qualification criteria were extended to all Commonwealth countries and the Republic of Ireland. Members discussed the issue, in the context of the global City; considerations around “Britishness”, and the implications of making the qualification to being as wide as possible, whilst having due regard to other relevant constraints and constitutional sensitivities. The Remembrancer advised that the qualification aligned with other Offices of State and the request to sign the Accession document would be determined by the Sovereign.


In closing, the Chairman thanked the Comptroller and City Solicitor and the City Remembrancer for the work undertaken to update the Wardmote Book and to progress the actions arising from this meeting and the recent meeting of the Policy and Resources Committee.


Resolved:- That the updates to the City Corporation’s Wardmote Book be noted. 


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