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Are the ethical standards which govern the conduct of politicians and civil servants fit for purpose?

The Committee on Standards in Public Life, which advises the Prime Minister on ethical standards across public life in England, has recently published the interim findings of its ‘Standards Matter 2’ review. This was a wide-ranging examination of the seven principles of public life and their implementation, which comes at the same time as several parliamentary enquiries examine the conduct of former and current senior office holders.

The committee’s report found that there were four areas standards regulation that needed significant reform. These were: the Ministerial Code and the Independent Adviser on Ministers’ Interests; the business appointment rules and the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA); transparency around lobbying; and the regulation of public appointments. However, the Committee also rejected calls for other reforms, such as placing the Ministerial Code on a statutory footing.

This briefing examines those findings ahead of the forthcoming debate in the House of Lords on 9 September 2021: Lord Blunkett to move that this House takes note of standards in public life.

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