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Ethical standards in government

Ethical standards underpin the working of government and are important for trust in politics and politicians.

Rules that govern how ministers, civil servants and special advisers can operate are set out in codes of conduct and constitutional guides like the cabinet manual, and are reinforced by the rule of law. But some of those rules rely on informal conventions and expectations of behaviour. They are also reliant on different enforcement mechanisms, from statutory bodies like the Civil Service Commission to less formal roles like the prime minister’s independent adviser on ministerial interests. 

Given the many ethical scandals of recent years, the government needs to strengthen the rules around how ministers and civil servants are expected to behave, and put in place better ways of enforcing these rules.

Reinforcing standards in government

Our recommendations for reform

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