Standing committee set up in October 1994 by UK prime minister John Major to examine and report on standards in British public life. Its appointment, under Patrick Nolan (1928– ), a lord justice of appeal, followed media allegations of political corruption within the ruling Conservative Party. The results of its first round of investigations found no evidence of ‘systematic corruption within British public life’, but made several recommendations intended to avert future possible conflicts of interest. In his second report in May 1996 he said that there was no ‘fundamental malaise’ in the quangos he had been asked to examine.
The Committee was set up in response to media accusations in July 1994 that several Conservative MPs had accepted money in return for tabling parliamentary questions. In its first report, published in May 1995, it enunciated seven principles that it said should govern the behaviour of all holders of public office – selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty, and leadership. The report was debated by the House of Commons, and members, while agreeing with its main thrust, were less willing to abide by some of its specific recommendations, such as full disclosure of consultancy interests and earnings. A select committee was set up to advise on how the report might be clarified and implemented.
Having completed its first round of investigations into the finances of ministers, members of Parliament, civil servants, and council members, the Committee moved on to examine standards in local government and quangos (quasi-autonomous nongovernmental organizations).