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MPs: The 7 Nolan Principles of Public Life

Members of Parliament have a duty to demonstrate leadership in the observation of the ‘7 Nolan principles of public life’, as set out in the Parliamentary code of conduct. Ultimately, it will be the public, not the MPs’ or their leaders, that determine whether or not MPs’ involved in the expense scandal have observed those principals or simply paid lip service to them. I have reproduced the 7 Nolan principals below;

Selflessness : 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.

Integrity : 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.

Objectivity : 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.

Accountability : 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.

Openness : 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.

Honesty : 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.

Leadership : Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.

MPs, would do well to consider the following principles; Selflessness and Accountability, whilst leaders need to take account of the principle behind Leadership. Party leaders should not need reminding that it is not acceptable for ‘wayward’ MPs to simply be moved from the front line. That is a fudge. Those MPs that cannot justify their expense claims as wholly, necessarily and exclusively in the performance of their Parliamentary duties must be deselected and denied the opportunity of ever standing for the party again. It doesn’t matter if many of their colleagues were at it, each and every member of parliament has to be responsible for his or her own actions.  Anything less that deselection would not demonstrate leadership, but weakness, moreover, it would imply that the party itself condones such abuse.

Further, an MP that may be guilty of fraud or deception in relation to their expense claims must be referred to the Police, not by an outside body or a member of the public, but the party itself. If there is no intent to commit fraud or deception, then the MP will be offered the opportunity to clear his or her name, public indignation is not sufficient to presume innocence. Our MPs should have nothing to fear from a system that they, as ‘law makers’, have themselves introduced or amended.

I would remind all party leaders that this is public money not theirs, so the benefit of the doubt must not be given to any MP unless or until the public has been consulted and agreed. The public are the aggrieved party. For any party leader that is struggling with this concept, I would argue that the clue is contained within one of the 7 Nolan principles “Holders of public office should take decisions solely in terms of the public interest“, in other words, party interests cannot be placed first.


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6 Comments For This Post

  1. Rob Dickins Says:

    Very much enjoying the solidarity! Examining the Nolan principles in regard to the relationship between government and the media (lobby media specifically)would, I think, throw up some more glaringly obvious failings in regard to the seven points. Good job for publishing the principles though - they are concepts that should be at the forefront of every voters minds but that are normally resigned only to the minds of politics students!

  2. Frustrated Voter Says:

    @ Rob Dickens: Yes, I agree. If the electorate do look at the Nolan principles in terms of how their own MP or, indeed, this government has acted over the past 12 years, suspect there will be many that are very disappointed. I know I am.

  3. CJ Says:

    Yes, of course I agree with all that - you (and Nolan) are absolutely right.

    However, there’s just one problem … no one seems to mention the most important thing, which to me is that, way before ANY OF THAT they need to at least be some f****** good at the job!

    Frankly, I don’t honestly mind all THAT much if they’re a tiny bit dodgey, and I certainly don’t care if they are sleeping with half a dozen starlets, as well as some opposition member’s wife (or husband, as the case may be) - just so long as they are BLOODY GOOD AT RUNNING THE COUNTRY ON MY BEHALF (and yours, of course)!

    Sadly, this lot can’t even fiddle their expenses without getting caught at it. What a shower!

  4. Frustrated Voter Says:

    @ CJ: This is precisely the point I argued in my previous article, albeit in a long winded way. The whole issue is the selection procedure. At the moment, the pool they use to select candidates from is so small, that there is no way we can be getting the ‘best of the best’. When a leader argues that they are “ready for government”, it means nothing, because they never tell us why their MPs’ will be better than the last lot, it is all empty rhetoric. I want to know if their Business Secretary has substantial business experience, similarly any junior minister working for the Business Secretary, are they suitably qualified. What qualifications does the prospective Chancellor have etc?

    No private business could hope to succeed by recruiting key directors based on their presentation, rather than experience. No private business could hope to survive if they allowed inexperienced people to learn on the job. Running our country is akin to running a very, very large business, but with social responsibilities tagged on. You only have to look at where we are now to realise the dangers of placing an inexperienced person in charge of our economy!

  5. Free the British Says:

    I see that some of the mainstream parties are actually starting to refer to the Nolan principles suggesting that all candidates must subscribe. I think that is a great idea. Perhaps it could be written in stone as a guiding principle, rather than ascribed to as an ideal

  6. My Way Says:

    I am sure that it was Gordon Brown that said the Nolan Principles will be written into the new code of conduct for MP’s. Yet I thought they already had to agree to abide by them, maybe he is suggesting that it becomes mandatory.

3 Trackbacks For This Post

  1. Selflessness, Integrity, Objectivity, Accountability, Openness, Honesty and Leadership, any use to anyone? « Meaning To Life Says:

    [...] Prime Minister must have suspected that there was trouble at’ mill because he requested the Nolan Committee examine precisely the matter of people in public life. The committee took six months to make its [...]

  2. Abusing power for private gain | Chandrashekhar Krishnan - www.site11.com - deepWeb Says:

    [...] Corruption is the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. Too many parliamentarians abused a position of public trust, bringing parliament into disrepute and casting a cloud of suspicion on the majority of MPs who are honest and hardworking. Too few MPs were willing to challenge a system that was clearly not working. This was not about obeying the rules, which were clearly imperfect; it was about our lawmakers understanding the difference between right and wrong and being faithful to the Nolan Principles of Public Life. [...]

  3. Abusing power for private gain | Chandrashekhar Krishnan - www.site11.com - deep web news radio Says:

    [...] Corruption is the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. Too many parliamentarians abused a position of public trust, bringing parliament into disrepute and casting a cloud of suspicion on the majority of MPs who are honest and hardworking. Too few MPs were willing to challenge a system that was clearly not working. This was not about obeying the rules, which were clearly imperfect; it was about our lawmakers understanding the difference between right and wrong and being faithful to the Nolan Principles of Public Life. [...]

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