The regulation of standards in British public life

Doing the right thing?

Authors: David Hine and Gillian Peele

Integrity issues have become an important item on the British political agenda since the 1990s when ‘sleaze’ prompted John Major to set up the Committee on Standards in Public Life. The book analyses the range of ethical problems which confront the political system and the efforts to address them. It addresses the tightening of standards in response to misconduct in Parliament, in central and local government and in the devolved systems. It also addresses perennial ethical questions such as lobbying and party funding which continue to trouble the United Kingdom as they do other major democracies. The chief purpose of the book is to understand the regulatory dilemmas which face policy-makers as they struggle to produce new machinery and codes to tackle the risk of misconduct. Thus we examine, for example, the choice between self-regulation and independent regulation, decisions about the amount of transparency required of office-holders, and how to achieve proportionality in the balance between perceived problems and regulatory burdens. We also attempt to assess the impact of more than two decades of ethical engineering on the office holders and the public.

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