Committee on Standards in Public Life
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Standards Matter – A Review Of Best Practice In Promoting Good Behaviour in Public Life

The Committee on Standards in Public Life, chaired by Sir Christopher Kelly, yesterday published the findings of its review of best practice in promoting high standards of behaviour in public life. 

The report argues that while much of the basic infrastructure to improve standards is in place, there is a great deal more to do before high ethical standards are fully internalised in the cultures of all our public institutions. 

Speaking at the launch of the report at the Committee’s annual public accountability meeting in London, Sir Christopher Kelly said: 
“In the last months of my chairmanship, the Committee has taken the opportunity to look back at what has been achieved since Nolan’s original 1995 report setting out the 7 principles of public life. These principles - and codes of conduct based on them - have been adopted by most public bodies, new regulators have been created or had their remits clarified and awareness of important principles like accountability and openness has undoubtedly increased. We are clear that, in general, standards of behaviour have improved in public life. 

“However, it is disturbing that concerns continue to be raised about the integrity of so many of our key institutions or those within them and the evidence of the last few years suggests there is still much to do before the high standards in public life to which we all aspire are fully internalised in the cultures of all our public institutions. 

“The report concludes that the need now is not necessarily for more principles, codes or regulators but rather for the existing arrangements to be more consistently and actively implemented. The promotion of good behaviour can never be about ticking boxes. It requires expected standards to be embedded throughout an organisation and its processes. 

“The review sets out four main conclusions as well as identifying a number of existing and emerging risks which we believe need to be addressed more energetically including ethical risks around new models of public service delivery, lobbying, and political party finance.” 

The report can be downloaded from the Committee’s website: 

Notes to Editors 


1.    For media enquiries and interview requests for Sir Christopher Kelly  please contact Maggie O’Boyle on 07880 740627.  

2.    More information about the work of the Committee is available on its website:  

3.    The Committee on Standards in Public Life is an Advisory Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB) sponsored by the Cabinet Office. The Chair and Members are appointed by the Prime Minister. The Committee was established in October 1994 with the following terms of reference: “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. Additional terms of reference were announced on 12 November 1997: “To review issues in relation to the funding of political parties, and to make recommendations as to any changes in present arrangements.”  

4.    The current members of the Committee are: Sir Christopher Kelly KCB, Chairman, Rt Hon Lord Alderdice, Rt Hon Dame Margaret Beckett MP DBE, Sheila Drew Smith OBE, Patricia Moberly, Sir Derek Morris MA DPhil, Dame Denise Platt DBE, David Prince CBE and Richard Thomas CBE and Dame Angela Watkinson MP DBE.  Dame Angela Watkinson was appointed to the Committee on 30 November 2012 and did not take part in this review.

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