Union leader calls for renewal of the Seven Principles of Public Life

14 May 2009

(For immediate release)

Union leader calls for renewal of the Seven Principles of Public Life

In his speech to the FDA's annual conference on 14 May, Jonathan Baume, General Secretary of the union for senior managers and professionals in public service, said:

"Democracy in Britain is reaching a point of crisis. The greed of many MPs, including Ministers, is little short of corruption. Had they been civil servants, they would have been sacked. Too many politicians have broken the bond of trust with the taxpayer, and they will find it hard to repair.

"There are few simple answers to the many problems that face those in government. But if you wander too long in the moral maze there is a danger of losing your bearings altogether.

"We did not need to amend the rules for special advisers - they were crystal clear. MPs did not need to claim allowances just because the rules said they could.

"The government has spent a decade drawing up regulations to govern as much as possible of professional and personal activity. Yet, although it is unfashionable to say this, what we actually need is not more regulation or new rules - but to return to a concept of what is right and wrong."

Baume called for a renewing of Lord Nolan's Seven Principles of Public Life.

"We must restore a culture of morality and decency that too many in public life appear to have lost, and renew the Seven Principles of Public Life. And that will be as much of a challenge for the next government as scaling the mountain of debt.

"These issues matter not just to the politicians whose standing - never that high - is at an all time low. They matter to every taxpayer and certainly to all who work in the civil service and the wider public services because if taxpayers lose confidence in politicians, their trust in public servants more generally is eroded.

"And if the electorate turns its back on mainstream politicians then the danger is that they turn to those on the extreme margins of politics."

Baume also called for an extension of the role of the pay review bodies beyond the senior levels of the civil service and NHS.

"There is often little transparency or accountability in setting pay where a pay review body does not operate.

"We see merit in extending the role of the senior salaries review body, or new pay review bodies, across the wider public sector to restore trust in senior levels of reward."


Notes for editors

1. The FDA is the trade union and professional body representing 18,000 of the UK's senior civil and public servants. Our members include policy advisors, senior managers, tax inspectors, economists, statisticians, accountants, special advisers, government lawyers, diplomats, crown prosecutors and NHS managers.

2. Members in HMRC are represented by the Association of Revenue and Customs (ARC), a section of the FDA.

3. The FDA (formerly the First Division Association) should be referred to simply as "The FDA" and can be described as "the senior public servants' union".

4. For further information contact:

Jonathan Baume, General Secretary, tel: 020 7401 5555 or 07976 951191.

Oliver Rowe, Communications Officer, tel: 020 7401 5588 or 07590 838696.

5. Jonathan Baume's speech can be read by clicking on the link below:

Jonathan Baume ADC speech 2009