Committee on Standards in Public Life
The Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) is an advisory non-departmental public body of the United Kingdom Government, established in 1994 to advise the Prime Minister on ethical standards of public life. It promotes a code of conduct called the Seven Principles of Public Life, also known as the Nolan principles after the first chairman of the committee, Lord Nolan.
- advising the Prime Minister on ethical issues relating to standards in public life
- conducting broad inquiries into standards of conduct
- making recommendations as to changes in present arrangements
- promoting the 7 principles of public life.
The Committee does not investigate individual allegations of misconduct, that being the role of the relevant regulator.
The Seven Principles of Public life
The committee promotes a code of conduct for those in public life called the Seven Principles of Public Life.
- Selflessness – Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest.
- Integrity – Holders of public office must avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or organisations that might try inappropriately to influence them in their work. They should not act or take decisions to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends. They must declare and resolve any interests and relationships.
- Objectivity – Holders of public office must act and take decisions impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias.
- Accountability – Holders of public office are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions and must submit themselves to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this.
- Openness – Holders of public office should act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner. Information should not be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for so doing.
- Honesty – Holders of public office should be truthful
- Leadership – Holders of public office should exhibit these principles in their own behaviour. They should actively promote and robustly support the principles and be willing to challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs.
These Seven Principles apply to anyone who works as a public office holder including:
- those elected or appointed to public office, nationally or locally,
- those appointed to work in the civil service, local government, the police, courts and probation services, Non Departmental Public Bodies, and in the health, education, social and care services, and
- those in the private sector delivering public services.
The Committee consists of a chair, four independent members and three political members. The chair and independent members are appointed by the Prime Minister for a single five-year term, following an open competition regulated by the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments (OCPA). The political members, nominated by the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat political parties, are appointed for three years with the possibility of reappointment.
|Chair||The Lord Evans of Weardale KCB DL||25 October 2018||5 years|||
|Member||The Rt Hon. Dame Margaret Beckett DBE MP (Labour Party)||1 November 2010 (last reappointed 31 October 2019)||3 years|||
|Member||Monisha Shah||1 December 2015||5 years|||
|Member||The Rt Hon. The Lord Stunell Kt OBE PC (Liberal Democrats)||1 December 2016 (last reappointed 1 December 2019)||3 years|||
|Member||Dr Jane Martin CBE||1 January 2017||5 years|||
|Member||Dame Shirley Pearce DBE||13 March 2018||5 years|||
|Member||The Rt Hon. Jeremy Wright QC MP (Conservative Party)||21 November 2019||3 years|||
|Member||Vacant||Since 28 October 2020||5 years|||
The Committee was initially established in October 1994 by the Prime Minister, John Major, in response to concerns that conduct by some politicians was unethical - for example, during the cash-for-questions affair.
1994 terms of reference
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".
First report, 1995
- Selflessness – Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so to gain financial or other benefits for themselves, their family or their friends.
- Integrity – Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might seek to influence them in the performance of their official duties.
- Objectivity – In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit and facts not on personal judgements
- Accountability – Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.
- Openness – Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands.
- Honesty – Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.
- Leadership – Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.
(The wording of these Principles has since been revised following a review in the Fourteenth Report of January 2013.)
1997 terms of reference
In November 1997, Tony Blair extended the Committee's terms of reference: "To review issues in relation to the funding of political parties, and to make recommendations as to any changes in present arrangements."
2013 terms of reference
On 5 February 2013, the Committee's terms of reference were clarified in two ways – (1): "…in future the Committee should not inquire into matters relating to the devolved legislatures and governments except with the agreement of those bodies", and (2): "…the Committee’s remit to examine “standards of conduct of all holders of public office” [encompasses] all those involved in the delivery of public services, not solely those appointed or elected to public office".
The terms of reference were further clarified on 28 February 2013 to explain that the Committee "can examine issues relating to the ethical standards of the delivery of public services by private and voluntary sector organisations, paid for by public funds, even where those delivering the services have not been appointed or elected to public office.”
- Sir Clifford Boulton (1994–2000)
List of past Committee chairmen
- The Lord Nolan 28 October 1994 – 7 November 1997
- The Lord Neill of Bladen, QC 7 November 1997 – 1 March 2001
- Sir Nigel Wicks 1 March 2001 – 26 April 2004
- Sir Alistair Graham 26 April 2004 – 24 April 2007
- Sir Christopher Kelly, KCB 1 January 2008 – 1 April 2013
- The Lord Bew 1 September 2013 – 25 October 2018
- "Committee on Standards in Public Life/About". Retrieved 17 November 2015.
- Committee on Standards in Public Life: Annual Report 2017-18", p. 2
- Committee on Standards in Public Life: Annual Report 2017-18", p. 16
- "Press Release: Prime Minister appoints Lord Evans of Weardale as Chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life". Gov.uk. 25 October 2018. Retrieved 13 January 2019.
- "Committee on Standards in Public Life". UK Government. Retrieved 1 September 2020.
- Committee on Standards in Public Life: Annual Report 2017-18", p. 20
- Committee on Standards in Public Life: Annual Report 2017-18", p. 18
- Committee on Standards in Public Life: Annual Report 2017-18", p. 19
- "Jane Ramsey". gov.uk. Retrieved 29 November 2020.
- Leopold (2004). p. 417.
- House of Commons Library, Committee on Standards in Public Life, SN/PC/04888, 11 November 2008
- First Report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life (1995). p. 14.
- Annual Report 2010–11 (2011). p. 14.
- Above all because these bodies have their own standard overseeing authorities: for the House of Commons, see Commons Select Committee on Standards.
- "Terms of reference". Retrieved 17 November 2015.
- Annual Report 2010–11 (2011). p. 16.
- "Prime Minister appoints new committee chairs" (Press release). Cabinet Office; Prime Minister's Office. 28 October 2018.
- Leopold, Patricia (2004). "Standards of Conduct in Public Life". In Jowell, Jeffrey; Oliver, Dawn (eds.). The Changing Constitution (5 ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-926439-2.
- "Committee on Standards in Public Life: Annual Report 2017-18" (pdf). Committee on Standards in Public Life. 2018. Retrieved 13 January 2019.
- "First Report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life" (PDF). Committee on Standards in Public Life. 1995. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 December 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2011.
- "Annual Report 2010–11" (PDF). Committee on Standards in Public Life. September 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 January 2013. Retrieved 20 October 2011.