Select Committee on Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Annual Report 2002-03

8. Conclusion and Forward Look

8.1  I hope that the preceding sections of this report will have given Members of the House and the public, not only more comprehensive information than has hitherto been available about the House of Commons standards system, but a clear idea of how, building on the achievements of my two predecessors and working with the Committee on Standards and Privileges, I am approaching my role as Commissioner. I take this opportunity to thank the Committee, and particularly its Chairman, Sir George Young, for their leadership and support.

8.2  The programme of work we have established in partnership—strengthening the system, emphasising prevention, resolving complaints, ensuring accountability—is ongoing. Priorities for the year ahead include:

  • developing the reference material for Members on standards issues we have begun to produce;

  • in consultation with the House authorities and the Whips, reviewing the training provision for Members and their staff;

  • reviewing the Code of Conduct for members, under the auspices of the Committee on Standards and Privileges and in consultation with external partners;

  • introducing a system of electronic data management to assist with handling the material generated by a large complaint investigation.

Variations in the level and complexity of complaints work will inevitably affect the rate at which we can make progress on these fronts. Nonetheless, we have a clear idea of where we want to go.

8.3  I came into my role convinced of the central place of Parliament in the life of our nation. If any were in doubt about this, the events of the past year should have convinced them of it and of the importance of ensuring a Parliament whose Members are held in high esteem by the public they serve. Sustaining high standards of conduct among Members is a key part of encouraging that confidence in Parliament which is essential to the health of our democracy and the effectiveness of our system of government. The House of Commons has much in which it can take pride, in respect of its standards arrangements as in other areas of its life. I look forward to continuing to work with Members further to improve those arrangements, so that the House may serve the public even more effectively.

4 July 2003   Sir Philip Mawer

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