Independent report

Upholding Standards in Public Life - Published Report

The Committee on Standards in Public Life has published 'Upholding Standards in Public Life', the final report and recommendations of the Standards Matter 2 review.



The Committee has today published its report and recommendations to government on upholding standards in public life. This is the final report of the Standards Matter 2 review.

Our report makes the case for high standards and calls for stronger rules, more independent regulation, and a better system of compliance in central government. This report also updates the descriptor to the Nolan Principle of Leadership, to cover better the issue of respect.

In particular, the Committee found that:

  • There still needs to be greater independence in the regulation of the Ministerial Code, which lags behind similar arrangements for MPs, peers, and civil servants
  • The scope of the Business Appointment Rules should be expanded, and the rules should be enforced through legal arrangements
  • Reforms to the powers of the Commissioner for Public Appointments are needed to provide a better guarantee of the independence of assessment panels
  • Transparency around lobbying is poor and requires better coordination and more frequent publication by the Cabinet Office

From the evidence we have taken during our review it has become clear that the current system of ethics regulation is too dependent on conventions; that standards regulators in government are not sufficiently independent; and that government needs to take a more formal and professional approach to its own ethics obligations. To address this, we recommend a number of stronger ethics rules; that standards regulators in government are given a basis in primary legislation; and that government develops a formal compliance function.

The arrangements to uphold ethical standards in government have come under close scrutiny and significant criticism in recent months. Maintaining high standards requires vigilance and leadership. The Committee believes our recommendations outline a necessary programme of reform to restore public confidence in the regulation of ethical standards in government.

Find out more about the Standards Matter 2 review.

The words 'upholding standards in public life' and 'final report of the standards matter 2 review', and the Committee's logo.
Published 1 November 2021