14 May 2007
PASC QUIZZES OUTGOING STANDARDS CHIEF ON REFORM OF GOVERNMENT WATCHDOGS
PASC (the Commons Public Administration Committee) will question outgoing Chairman of the Committee for Standards in Public Life, Sir Alistair Graham, on Tuesday. Sir Alistair is giving evidence in a private capacity to discuss his thoughts about the effectiveness of the watchdog and its future, as well as his views on the ethical conduct of government while he was in post.
Sir Alistair chaired the CSPL from April 2004 until the end of last month. He courted controversy during his tenure for his outspoken views on conduct of senior public figures. There has been media speculation that his contract was not renewed because of his criticism of government, although previous Chairs have not been re-appointed.
In its report Ethics and Standards: The Regulation of Conduct in Public Life the Committee calls for the various existing standards watchdogs to be brought together under a new Parliamentary body, a Public Standards Commission.
As the Committee says, “Crucially, there needs to be a new relationship to both Parliament and government for the key regulators, especially those currently sponsored by the Cabinet Office.
“It is unsatisfactory for the ethical regulators created to regulate government to be appointed by government, and funded by government. On the other hand, we have no desire to establish endless committees of the great and good, lacking any link to the democratic process. Consequently, we believe that the bodies whose core business is the ethical regulation of government should be established by, and report to Parliament rather than government.”
The new Commission would fund, appoint, staff and audit the “ethical regulators”, to make them properly independent of Government. They would also have the power to initiate their own inquiries, rather than just investigate cases referred to them.
The Committee is calling for a debate on the future of the “ethical regulators” in the UK and intends to create a forum over the coming months for working out the detail of the necessary reform.
The Government has said it was awaiting the PASC report before appointing a permanent successor to Sir Alistair, and has appointed an interim Chair, Rita Donaghy.
The Committee’s report on ethics and standards can be found on our website at:
The session will take place at
Tuesday 15th May in the
Wilson Room, Portcullis House.
For more information about the work of the Committee, visit our website at
The Committee was nominated on 13 July 2005. Its terms of reference are to examine the reports of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsmen, and to consider matters relating to the quality and standards of administration provided by Civil Service departments, and other matters relating to the Civil Service.
The Membership of the Committee is as follows:
Dr Tony Wright (Chairman) (Lab) (Cannock Chase), Mr David Burrowes (Con) (Enfield, Southgate), Paul Flynn (Lab) (Newport West), David Heyes (Lab) (Ashton under Lyne), Kelvin Hopkins (Lab) (Luton North), Mr Ian Liddell-Grainger (Con) (Bridgewater), Julie Morgan (Lab) (Cardiff North), Mr Gordon Prentice (Lab) (Pendle), Paul Rowen (Lib Dem) (Rochdale), Mr Charles Walker (Con) (Broxbourne), Jenny Willott (Lib Dem) (Cardiff Central)
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