On the naughty step - conduct that deserves a ticking off

This week: truanting politicians

When it comes to admonishing the younger generation for bad manners and rowdy behaviour, politicians are rarely backward in coming forward. However, even a quick glimpse at Prime Minister's Questions, Westminster's weekly parliamentary spectacle of jeering, heckling and abuse that makes feeding time at the zoo look like a civilised gathering, serves as a reminder that MPs aren't exactly bastions of civility.

With delicious irony, a report published this week by the Committee on Standards in Public Life calls for politicians to effectively be sent back to school to learn how to behave properly.

Yes, the advisory body is calling for new MPs to take classes in good behaviour and ethics. But although induction courses are old hat in most workplaces, parliamentarians are less eager.

The report reveals that just one in five of the latest batch of MPs bothered to turn up to specially organised classes. In other words, they played truant. One session, designed to help MPs deal with ethical dilemmas, ended up being cancelled because of poor attendance.

So, it's time for governments to take a leaf out of schools' book. Surely even the most fractious of politicians could be hauled back on to the straight and narrow with the threat of a detention and a sternly worded letter home.

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