All public appointments, including MPs and my Board post with South Wales Probation and my civil servant job, come with a requirement to abide by the ‘Seven Principles of Public Life’, first published by the Nolan Committee in 1995. These principles are:
Holders of public office should take decisions 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.
Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might influence them in the performance of their official duties.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.
How many of these do you think that MPs have breached in the current expenses fiasco? Selflessness, integrity, honesty, openness have all been laid waste to.
The oft trotted out line of “I was only following the rules” doesn’t wash here. As a public appointment, you not only have to do the right thing, you need to be seen to be doing the right thing. MPs, it seems, did neither.