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Committee on Standards in Public Life

Published Friday, December 21, 2018

This note sets out the background to the creation of the Committee on Standards in Public Life in 1994 and provides details of its recent work. The note looks at its constitutional position and relationship to Parliament.

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The Committee's original terms of reference were to “examine current concerns about standards of conduct of all holders of public office, including arrangements relating to financial and commercial activities, and make recommendations as to any changes in present arrangements which might be required to ensure the highest standards of propriety in public life”. In 1997 the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, widened the terms of reference to cover the funding of political parties.

Recent reports have covered: MPs’ outside interests; ethical standards in outsourced public services; and intimidation in public life. Previous reports have dealt with subjects including:

  • standards in local government, on boards of executive NDPBs and in public service providers
  • the funding of political parties
  • the role of the Electoral Commission
  • leadership, ethics and accountability in policing
  • transparency around lobbying.

A report on ethical standards in local government is expected early in 2019.

The Committee is an advisory non-departmental public body. Its current Chair is Lord Evans of Weardale (previously Director General of MI5), who was appointed in October 2018 for a five-year term. The appointment of the Chair is subject to pre-appointment hearing by the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee.

Commons Briefing papers SN04888

Author: Pat Strickland

Topic: Parliament

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