Guide to the Rules relating to the conduct of Members: GRECO Report and other developments - Committee on Standards Contents



CSPL revision of the Seven Principles of Public Life

26.  The Code of Conduct contains the Seven Principles of Public Life drawn up by the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) in 1995. As part of its review of standards CSPL revisited the Seven Principles. While the principles themselves remain, the descriptors for these principles have been revised. Below we set out the revised principles with the current descriptor under each principle.
Selflessness—Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest.

Current descriptor

Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends.

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 in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends. They must declare and resolve any interests and relationships.

Current descriptor

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—Holders of public office must act and take decisions impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias.

Current descriptor

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.

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.

Current descriptor

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 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.

Current descriptor

Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that 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 should be truthful.

Current descriptor

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 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.

Current descriptor

Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.

27.  Most of the material in the new formulation is in the existing descriptive text, but transferred to principles where the CSPL considers there is a better fit—for example, the prohibition on taking decision to gain advantage for self, family or friends has been moved from "selflessness" to "integrity". The one value which is made explicit in the new descriptors and was only implicit in the old ones is "Holders of public office should be truthful".

28.  The principles themselves remain unchanged, and the descriptors cover substantially the same material as before. The one new descriptor is truthfulness. Politics exists because there can be legitimate differences of opinion on the most significant matters. Nevertheless, Members apologise if they have misled the House. Moreover, truthfulness is already at the heart of the House's regulatory system. Truthfulness in the registration and declaration of interests is fundamental. Even without the new descriptor, we would consider it a serious fault if a Member were found to be untruthful in his or her dealings with the Commissioner or the Committee. The revised descriptors may well be used in future revisions of the Code, but we do not recommend updating the Code at this stage, other than by the insertion of a footnote to draw attention to the CSPL's revisions and this Report.


 
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© Parliamentary copyright 2013
Prepared 18 March 2013