Proper scrutiny is vital to good government, says the UK’s 2012 White Paper on the country’s Overseas Territories.
“This important work helps strengthen the people’s trust in government,” it says, “and encourages greater public participation in decision making.”
It also sets out a list of seven principles of public life that are now followed in some Overseas Territories. They form part of the code of practice for legislative councillors on St Helena.
Both official and independent bodies have a part to play “to ensure openness and
transparency and to hold public bodies to account, including auditors and complaints
“The UK Government is supporting the development of these organisations.”
SHG has been asked to set out how its work is scrutinised and made public. It has not responded.
Part of the work of scrutiny is done by the media. The White Paper notes: “The Territories have a free and open press that serves to inform the public and foster debate on issues of policy.
“In recent years there has been an explosion of colourful internet debate and political blogs.”
The Seven Principles of Public Life – from the White Paper
The UK Committee on Standards in Public Life has set out these principles for the benefit of all who serve the public in any way. They have been adopted by many
public bodies in the UK and the Territories.
Holders of public office should act 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.
Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might seek to influence them in the performance of their official duties.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.