REGISTER OF MEMBERS' INTERESTS
INTRODUCTION TO THE OCTOBER 1997 EDITION
This edition of the Register, the first for the Parliament
elected in May 1997, reflects Members' Interests as they stood
at 31 October 1997. Like the two previous editions in March 1996
and January 1997, it takes account of certain recommendations
of the First Report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life
(the Nolan Committee) and subsequent decisions of the House of
Commons taken in July and November 1995.
In July 1996 the House approved the publication of a Code
of Conduct for Members of Parliament, together with a Guide to
the Rules relating to the Conduct of Members.
This document, which I circulated to all Members following their
election, sets out in detail the rules governing the registration
and declaration of Members' financial interests, as well as offering
guidance on their practical application.
The establishment of the Register dates from a Resolution
of the House of 22 May 1974. Since my appointment by the House
in November 1995 as Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards,
the Register has appeared in my name. I exercise this function
in agreement with the Select Committee on Standards and Privileges
which has replaced the former Select Committees on Privileges
and Members' Interests.
Members are now required to complete a registration form
and return it to me within three months of taking their seats
after a General Election. The expiry of this period during the
summer adjournment has led to some delay in publication.
Purpose of the Register
The defining purpose of the Register is "to provide
information of any pecuniary interest or other material benefit
which a Member receives which might reasonably be thought by others
to influence his or her actions, speeches or votes in Parliament,
or actions taken in his or her capacity as a Member of Parliament".
Members are required to keep that overall purpose in mind when
registering their interests.
Form of the Register
I have continued to take into account the recommendation
of the Nolan Committee that, while the Register should continue
broadly in its existing form, the detailed entry requirements
should be improved to give a clearer description of the nature
and scope of the interests declared. Each Member is, however,
ultimately responsible for his or her own entry; and inconsistencies
of style or content in the Register are attributable largely to
While Members have been obliged since 1974 to register their
sources of paid outside employment, there was, until recently,
no requirement to disclose the amounts of remuneration obtained.
Following a recommendation of the Nolan Committee, however, the
House resolved on 6 November 1995 that any Member who has an existing
agreement or who proposes to enter into a new agreement involving
the provision of services in his or her capacity as a Member of
Parliament must reduce it to writing and deposit it with me.
The agreements, which are available for public inspection on the
same terms as the Register itself, must include the fees or benefits
payable in bands of up to £1,000, up to £5,000 and thereafter
in bands of £5,000, and these figures are shown in brackets
after the Register entries. While it is too early in the new Parliament
to be certain of long-term trends, it is notable that the number
of commitments of this kind undertaken by Members has fallen by
some two-thirds compared with the Register published in March
1996, when the new rule came into force.
The advocacy rule
A Resolution of the House of 6th November 1995, extending
and reinforcing an earlier Resolution in 1947, prohibits Members
from engaging in advocacy on behalf of outside bodies or persons
from whom they receive payment. The Guide to the Rules relating
to the Conduct of Members makes it clear that continuing benefits,
i.e. directorships, other employment and sponsorship, can be divested
to release a Member with immediate effect from the restrictions
imposed by this rule, provided that there is no expectation of
renewal. In the case of any `one-off' benefits such as visits
and gifts recorded in this Register, the advocacy rule will apply
for the period of a year from registration, and for this purpose
the date of registration appears against the benefit in question.
The categories of registrable interests
The form supplied to Members for the registration of their
interests is divided into ten sections, which are represented
in this edition by the following headings:
1. Remunerated directorships
In this section Members are required to register any remunerated
directorships which they may hold in public or private companies.
The requirement extends to directorships which are themselves
unremunerated but where the companies in question are associated
with or subsidiaries of a company in which the Member holds a
2. Remunerated employment, office, profession etc.
This is the category for registering outside employment,
professions and sources of remuneration not clearly covered elsewhere
in the registration form. It is also the section for the registration
of membership of Lloyd's of London; the requirement is to disclose
the categories of insurance underwritten rather than, as previously,
individual syndicate numbers.
In this section Members are required to disclose the names
of clients (other than companies or organisations already identified
in sections 1 and 2, but including clients of those companies
or organisations) for whom they provide services which depend
essentially upon or arise out of membership of the House; for
example, sponsoring functions in the parliamentary buildings,
making representations to Government Departments or providing
advice on parliamentary or public affairs.
4. Sponsorship or financial or material support
In this section the Member is required to register (a) the
source of any contribution to his or her election expenses at
the last Election which exceeded 25% of the total of such expenses,
and (b) any regular or continuing support from companies or organisations
from which the Member receives any financial or material benefit
in support of his or her role as a Member of Parliament. This
includes any regular donation in excess of £500 per year
made by an organisation or company to the Member's constituency
party if the donation is linked directly to the Member's candidacy
in the constituency or to membership of the House.
Category 4(a) was originally framed to ensure that it included
sponsorship of a Member by a trade union under the former Hastings
Agreement. As a consequence of the advocacy rule described above,
a number of trade unions have amended their sponsorship arrangements
so as to remove any financial link with a particular Member though,
as the Register shows, several other unions continued to support
individual Members at the last Election in the traditional manner.
The Committee on Standards and Privileges, aware that the rule
in its present form sits uneasily with current practice, have
recently issued a consultation paper
with a view to revising the sponsorship provisions of the Rules
5. Gifts, benefits and hospitality (U.K.)
This section is for the registration of any gift or material
advantage received by the Member or the Member's spouse from a
United Kingdom source, which in any way relates to membership
of the House. Gifts are exempt from registration if less than
£125 in value. Other benefits are exempt if less than £215
6. Overseas visits
This section covers overseas visits, made by Members or their
spouses, which relate to or arise out of membership of the House,
where the cost of any such visit has not been wholly borne by
the Member or by United Kingdom public funds. Several categories
of visit, made by Members in the normal course of their parliamentary
duties, are specifically exempted from registration. These include:
visits paid for by, or undertaken on behalf of, the Government
or which are made on behalf of an international organisation to
which the United Kingdom Government belongs; visits with or on
behalf of a Select Committee of the House; visits undertaken under
the auspices of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, the
Inter-Parliamentary Union, the British-Irish Parliamentary Body,
the British-American Parliamentary Group, the Council of Europe
and equivalent recognised international parliamentary assemblies;
visits arranged and paid for wholly by a Member's own political
party; visits paid for wholly by an institution of the European
Community; and visits as part of an Industry and Parliament Trust
7. Overseas benefits and gifts
This section is subject to the same rules as section 5, but
covers gifts and benefits from overseas rather than U.K. sources.
8. Land and property
The requirement in this section is to register any land or
property of substantial value, other than any home used solely
for the personal residential purposes of the Member or the Member's
9. Registrable shareholdings
In this section Members are required to register the name
of any public or private company or other body in which, to their
knowledge, they have a beneficial interest in a shareholding having
a nominal (i.e. face) value: (a) greater than 1 per cent of the
issued share capital of the company or body, or (b) less than
one per cent of the issued share capital but more than £25,000.
The letters (a) and (b) are used accordingly in the printed entries.
The requirement extends to holdings in which the interest is held
by or on behalf of the Member's spouse or dependent children.
10. Miscellaneous and unremunerated interests
This is a discretionary section for use by Members wishing
to register interests, including unremunerated interests, which
do not clearly fall within any of the specific categories but
which they consider to be relevant to the definition of the Register's
Administrative arrangements and inspection
The printing of the Register is authorised by the Select
Committee on Standards and Privileges in accordance with the general
practice, established in past years, that the Register should
be published and put on sale by The Stationery Office at the beginning
of a Parliament and thereafter approximately once a year.
It is the responsibility of Members to notify changes in
their registrable interests within four weeks of the change occurring;
and between its annual printings the Register is periodically
updated, in a looseleaf version, to take account of such amendments.
The looseleaf version is open for public inspection in the Registry
of Members' Interests, situated in the Committee Office of the
House of Commons (Tel: 0171-219 6615). It may be inspected when
the House is sitting between 11 am and 5 pm on Monday to Thursday
and between 11 am and 3 pm on Friday. During parliamentary recesses,
and especially during the month of August, more limited hours
of inspection apply. A copy of the current looseleaf Register
is also placed in the Library of the House for the use of Members.
Any complaint of a failure to disclose interests in accordance
with the rules of the House should be made to me in writing.
SIR GORDON DOWNEY, KCB
Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards
1 House of Commons Paper No. 688 (1995-96). Back
Report of the Select Committee on Members' Interests (1991-92),
para. 27. Back
Report of the Committee on Standards and Privileges (1997-98),
House of Commons Paper No. 181. Back