The number of voters who believe MPs are dedicated to doing a good job for the public has almost halved in three years, a survey shows today.
Research commissioned for the Committee for Standards in Public Life found only 26 per cent now have confidence in their elected representatives compared with 46 per cent when the last study was carried out in 2008, before the expenses scandal.
The proportion thinking that most MPs are competent also fell by 10 percentage points from 36 to 26. The committee's chairman, Sir Christopher Kelly, described the findings as "worrying". He is putting the finishing touches to his committee's report into funding political parties, due next month. Plans include a £10,000 cap on individual donations with parties being compensated through tax relief on smaller contributions.
Sir Christopher said yesterday: "The results of this survey make stark reading. Previous surveys have shown that public confidence in those holding public office has been on a long term decline since 2004. The 2010 results suggest that the rate of decline may have increased. I am struck by the common themes that run through many of the issues we see. High ethical standards do not just happen. They require leadership and the development of a strong ethical culture in which people understand what is expected of them. Overwhelmingly, the scandals we have seen in recent years could have been prevented."
Sir Christopher said his report on party funding would look at "complex and controversial" issues.
"The public are concerned about very large donations, whether from activist groups, large companies, trade unions, or individual donors," he said. "People generally assume that substantial donations are made for self-interested reasons and a third of respondents believe that politicians 'very often' do special favours for people and organisations who give large donations."