Submission to the Committee on Standards in Public Life Standards Matter 2 consultation

The introduction of the seven Nolan Principles was a significant moment for standards regulation in the UK. These are an integral part of building positive social norms and practices in our democratic system. However, as they are by nature very broad, on their own it is entirely possible for those in public life to interpret them very differently in practice, whilst believing in good faith that they are upholding them. This inconsistency in approach, combined with poor transparency, limited scope of regulations, a lack of independence for key regulators and weak sanctions for breaches of the rules mean that ethical standards cannot be effectively upheld.

The UK has a wide ranging and complex patchwork of codes, laws and conventions that regulate ethical behaviour in public life at a local, devolved and UK level. The fact that key areas or risk have been identified and some attempt has been made to mitigate them, is very welcome. However, as these frameworks have often been developed in response to a specific scandal or incident, they are not always comprehensive or holistic in approach. They also frequently fall below international best practice. We welcome this review and the opportunity to reflect more comprehensively on the gaps in the existing framework for ensuring ethical standards.

Transparency International UK has published several research reports that examine many different aspects of this agenda in detail. We have not sought to replicate those reports here. Rather we have looked systemically across the different ethical frameworks and identified common themes that undermine their effectiveness.


Submission to the Committee on Standards in Public Life Standards Matter 2 consultation

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