Select Committee on Standards and Privileges First Report



ANNEX 5

The Rules governing the Registration and Declaration

of Members' Interests

(i)  Purpose of the Register

  The Register was established in 1975 with the purpose of providing:

    "information of any pecuniary interest or other material benefit which a Member[353] may receive which might be thought to affect his conduct as a Member or influence his actions, speeches, or vote in Parliament".

  The introduction to the annually published Register reminded Members that they were:

    "required to have this general purpose in mind when determining what interests should properly be declared".

  In June 1993, two amendments were agreed by the House to this statement of the purposes of the Register, which now reads (changes in italics):

    The main purpose of the Register of Members' Interests 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.

  The Register also states:

    "It is left to individual Members, with or without the advice of the Registrar, to give the required information, and any inconsistencies of style or content that are apparent in the Register spring from that fact. Each member is responsible for what is recorded about himself here, as each is answerable to his fellow Members and the public".

  Members are required to notify any change in their registrable interests within four weeks of the change occurring.

  In 1992, in a Report subsequently approved by the House, the Select Committee on Members' Interests warned Members against believing "that correct registration and declaration adequately discharge their public responsibilities in respect of their private interests". In an Appendix to the Report, the then Speaker stated: "A Member must be vigilant that his actions do not tend to bring the House into disrepute"; and he added: "Members who hold consultancy and similar positions must ensure that they do not use their positions as Members improperly".

(ii)  The Classification of Members' Interests (1984-June 1993)

  The introduction to the 1984 published edition of the Register listed the following nine categories of registrable interests (which were for guidance only and were not to be regarded as exhaustive):

  1.  Directorships (remunerated directorships of companies, public or private)

  2.  Employment or Office (remunerated employments or offices, excluding Ministerial office and membership of the European Parliament, Council of Europe, Western European Union and the North Atlantic Assembly).

  3.  Trades or Professions, etc. (remunerated trades, professions or vocations)

  4.  Clients (the names of clients when the interests referred to above include personal services by the Member which arise out of, or are related in any manner to, his membership of the House. [These services include as well as any action connected with any proceedings in the House or its Committees, the sponsoring of functions in the Palace, making representations to Ministers, Civil Servants and other Members, accompanying delegations to Ministers and the like].[354]

  5.  Financial Sponsorships (a) as parliamentary candidate where to the knowledge of the Member the sponsorship in any case exceeds 25 per cent of the candidate's election expenses, or (b) as a Member of Parliament, by any person or organisation, stating whether any such sponsorship includes any payment to the Member or any material benefit or advantage, direct or indirect; this subsection includes gifts in relation to a Member's parliamentary duties, other than those received from abroad to which category 7 applies. [Such gifts include services: for example, the full or part-time services of a research assistant or secretary by an external organisation].[355] It is, however, not necessary for a Member to register the fact that he is supported by his local constituency party).

  6.  Overseas Visits (overseas visits relating to or arising out of membership of the House where the cost of any such visit has not been wholly borne by the Member or by public funds, but excluding overseas visits undertaken on behalf of the Inter Parliamentary Union, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, the Council of Europe, the Western European Union and the North Atlantic Assembly, or by any institution of the European Economic Communities).

  7.  Payments, etc. from Abroad (any payments or any material benefits or advantages received from, or on behalf of, foreign Governments, organisations or persons).

  8.  Land and Property (land and property of substantial value, or from which a substantial income is derived, but excluding a Member's home, unless he or she also receives an income from it).

  9.  Declarable Shareholdings (the names of companies or other bodies in which the Member has, to his knowledge, either himself or with or on behalf of his spouse or infant children, a beneficial interest in shareholdings of a nominal value greater than one-hundredth of the issued shared capital).

(iii)  Case Law

  (a)  Financial Sponsorships

    In June 1989, the Select Committee on Members' Interests ruled that the provision of office facilities at a nominal rent is a registrable benefit under category 5.

  (b)  Clients

    Adjudication (25 July 1990) on complaint against Michael Grylls MP concerning relationship with Ian Greer Associates.[356]

  (c)  Anonymous Gifts etc.

    Adjudication on complaint (15 January 1993): anonymous gifts or donations are not exempt from rules on registration.

  (d)  Benefits

    Adjudication (15 February 1993): benefit not exempt from registration merely because, when offset against associated costs or inconvenience, it can be represented as a net disbenefit to the recipient, or because it has been publicised in other ways.

(iv)  The Current Rules and Guidance to their Application (June 1993 onwards)

  Following a Report by the Select Committee on Members' Interests, approved by the House in June 1993, the classification of registrable benefits was revised and certain of the detailed rules amended. These were set out in a booklet entitled "Rules on the Registration and Declaration of Financial Interests" published in October 1994. At the same time a new, more detailed registration form was introduced. Since then, the House has agreed a Code of Conduct which entered into force on 24 July 1996 and which subsumed and replaced the booklet issued in October 1994.

(v)  Declaration of Interests

  The rule relating to declaration of interests (introduced in 1974) is a requirement separate from, and additional to, registration. The latter is a permanent and continuous record of Members' interests while the former is a disclosure during debate or other proceedings of an interest specifically relevant to that debate or those proceedings. The requirement to declare an interest extends (and has extended since 1974) to any "transactions or communications which a Member may have with other Members or with Ministers or servants of the Crown". The duty covers any "relevant pecuniary interest or benefit of whatever nature, whether direct or indirect, that [the Member] may have had, may have, or may be expecting to have."

  

  The definition of "proceedings" was extended to Early Day Motions in 1993 and to written questions in 1995.



353  NB: The registration requirements apply equally to Ministers who are Members of the House of Commons. Back

354  Words in square brackets added from 1986 Register onwards (the change was approved by the House on 17 December 1985). Back

355  Words in square brackets added from 1989 Register. Back

356  See Appendix 57. Back


 
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