Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Sixth Report


Memorandum submitted by the Clerk of the House


I have been asked to advise the Committee on Standards and Privileges on the position of Members who have not taken their seats in relation to the Code of Conduct and the Register of Members' Interests.

As a general proposition, any person who has been duly elected to serve in the House is a Member of the House, with the rights and obligations of a Member. Taking the oath is not a condition precedent for membership, although a Member who takes his seat or votes without having taken the oath renders himself liable to statutory penalties (see pp. 242-3 of the current edition of May).

It follows that the Code of Conduct and the obligation to register and declare interests apply to all Members whether or not they have taken their seat.

A Member who has not taken his seat may not take part in proceedings and will therefore have no opportunity to make an oral declaration of any relevant interests, but he is nonetheless required to declare them in any dealings he may have with Ministers or civil servants.

Under paragraph 10 of The Guide to the Rules, Members are required to register their interests with three months of taking their seat. A Member who does not take his seat is not exempt from the requirement to register, but owing to the wording of The Guide to the Rules he is in effect given an unlimited period within which to do so. The Committee may take the view that an amendment to the rules to require Members to register with three months of their election would end this anomaly.

7 February 2002

William McKay

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