Friday, 23 August 2002

Blair 'can't be trusted to oversee ethics'

By Andrew Sparrow, Political Correspondent

A new committee should be set up to oversee ethical standards in government because Tony Blair cannot be trusted to do it, say the Conservatives.

David Davis said yesterday that No 10's refusal to comply with a request from the committee on standards in public life showed the need for a new watchdog.

As Prime Minister, Mr Blair is in charge of ensuring that ministers comply with the ministerial code, the rulebook of government behaviour. Mr Davis, a senior shadow cabinet figure, said a tribunal consisting of privy counsellors and probably a law lord should do the job.

"It is the inability of the Prime Minister to distinguish between what is politically expedient for the Labour Party and what is proper for the government of the country that highlights the need for an independent external scrutiny of both ministers and special advisers," he said.

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