News 3rd November 2021

Statement: Committee on Standards / Owen Patterson MP

by Kevin Keith

Committee on Standards / Owen Patterson MP
For immediate release: 3rd November 2021

Kevin Keith, Chair of the UK Open Government Network, said:

“On Monday the Committee on Standards in Public Life published a report on upholding standards. It revealed that over three quarters of the British public agree that ethical standards in government are important for making democracy work (76%) and for preventing people using power for their own ends (77%).”

“It also revealed that over 40% of the public view the standards of conduct of Ministers (41%) and MPs (44%) as low or very low.”

“It is shocking therefore, that just two days after publication the government is seeking to scrap the cross-party Committee on Standards and replace it with a Conservative-dominated committee. This is following an adjudication that found a Conservative MP guilty of an ‘egregious case of paid advocacy.’ 

“The only possible inference to take from this action is that the government holds the public in utter contempt when it comes to ethical standards.”

“Whilst so often called the Nolan Principles, a more accurate descriptor of the Seven Principles of Public Life would be the People’s Principles. They are standards of conduct in public life which we are entitled to expect, not what the government can expect of itself.”

“So we urge the government to reconsider its actions and work with civil society on a public standards commitment in the National Action Plan for Open Government, particularly as we approach the International Summit of Democracy later this year.”