The Seven Principles of Public Life - integrity, objectivity, selflessness, accountability, openness, honesty, and leadership - first articulated by the Committee in 1995, are now well embedded in public life and the Committee mapped out the current standards landscape in a piece of research published last year.
But the regulation of ethics and propriety cannot be static. Issues change, other concerns dominate and institutions established in the 20th century may face new and different challenges in the 21st. We believe the time is therefore right to take a fresh look at how standards are regulated and where there may be gaps and weaknesses.
The Committee’s work – and what it recommends to the Prime Minister – relies on gathering evidence and views from a wide range of individuals and organisations. The public consultation that ran from September to January has now closed. We’d like to thank all those who took the time to send us their views and ideas.
We will be considering further submissions and conducting public polling as well as holding meetings with academics, experts, regulators, government officials and others to be sure we gather views and experiences from across the landscape.
As part of that process the Committee is holding online evidence sessions on March 10th 17th and 24th that will be livestreamed on the Committee’s YouTube channel.
These sessions will not look at individual cases - the Committee is not a regulator and has no powers to investigate; they are a chance to hear from standards regulators (in England, the Devolved Administrations and Canada), senior officials, experts, businesspeople and academics about how high standards can be maintained and supported.
High standards are essential for good governance and are thus a public good. They underpin trust placed in elected representatives and public officials and help our economy to thrive. Recent concerns about standards have reminded us that public office is not simply defined by democratic election or taxpayer funding. It is defined by a shared set of values, encapsulated by the Seven Principles, which outline our expectations of any public sector decision-making process, whether at local or national level."
The Seven Principles articulate the values that create a well-functioning, legitimate, and democratic public sector. This review will consider the regulatory structures in place to uphold and defend those principles - whilst also continuing to make the case for high ethical standards themselves.
We will report in the autumn of this year.