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Britons' trust in ministers falls

Britons' trust in their political masters is waning, with a growing belief that ministers are interested in power for their own gain, a government advisory body said yesterday.

While people have confidence in the honesty of public service professionals such as doctors and teachers, politicians rate badly, along with estate agents and tabloid journalists, a survey for the Committee on Standards in Public Life found.

Only 22 per cent of those surveyed thought all or most government ministers tell the truth, down five per cent from a similar poll in 2006.

Furthermore, only 38 per cent thought that ministers do not use their position for personal gain compared with 49 per cent two years ago.

There was little confidence in government ministers, who were viewed as out of touch, unlikely to spend public money wisely, and unlikely to admit mistakes, while one in five respondents said they thought some ministers took bribes.

Compared with the 2006 survey, more people thought standards had fallen in recent years and there was less confidence that wrongdoers would be punished.

Committee chairman Sir Christopher Kelly said there were some "worrying trends".

"What is clear from this survey is that the public have clear and strong views about the standards that those in positions of public trust should be meeting and that it matters greatly that those standards are met," he said.

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