Skip to main content

Standards in Public Life

Volume 718: debated on Thursday 14 July 2022

Before I answer this question, I will offer a small clarification of my previous answer. I think I said that Cabinet minutes are available for public contemplation, which, of course, they are—what I said is technically correct—but not until 30 years hence. Happily, I understand that limit is soon to fall to 20 years, so it will not be long for the hon. Member for Putney (Fleur Anderson) to wait.

In answer to Question 19, the Government are, of course, committed to upholding standards in public life and reinforcing our system to do so. Tomorrow the Government will make a written ministerial statement detailing our work in response to the reviews conducted by Nigel Boardman and the Committee on Standards in Public Life.

Integrity matters. Integrity and ethics speak of character, character speaks of motivation, and motivation speaks of purpose. We are either on the side of our people in investing everything we have to serve, or we are on the side of ourselves in extracting everything we can get for ourselves. As self-serving Tories have exploited and extracted to the extent of putting this place into disrepute, will the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster assure us that he will not only appoint an ethics adviser immediately but adopt Labour’s proposal of an independent integrity and ethics commission so that public trust can be restored?

The hon. Lady is right to highlight the importance of ethics and standards in this place and, indeed, in the whole of public life, right the way through from local government, but she is wrong to cast stones from one side of the House to the other. All parties in this House have had their share of issues in this area, and it is right that the system that polices all of us is independent. However, we agree with the Committee on Standards in Public Life that a single ethics commission

“seems disproportionate and does not sit well in our democratic system.”

When we have a new Prime Minister in the autumn, this will be among the chief priorities in their in-tray.