Register of Members' Interests Contents



REGISTER OF MEMBERS' INTERESTS

INTRODUCTION TO THE NOVEMBER 2002 EDITION

  This edition of the Register, the second for the Parliament elected in June 2001, records Members' Interests at 26 November 2002. It takes account of recommendations of the Committee on Standards in Public Life in May 1995 and decisions of the House of Commons taken in July and November 1995 and May 2002.

  In July 1996 the House of Commons approved the publication of a Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament with a Guide to the Rules relating to the Conduct of Members.[1] The Code and Guide were revised in May 2002 in accordance with a decision of the House following recommendations of the Committee on Standards and Privileges in their Ninth Report of Session 2001-02 (HC 763). Together the Code and Guide, which have been circulated to all Members, set out in detail the rules governing the registration and declaration of Members' financial interests, and provide guidance on their application.

  The Register was set up following a Resolution of the House of 22 May 1974. The maintenance of the Register is one of the principal duties laid on the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards by House of Commons Standing Order No. 150.

Purpose of the Register

  The main 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".[2] Members are required to keep that overall purpose in mind when registering their interests.

The new Register

  The new Register differs in some important respects from its predecessors. The changes recommended by the Committee in its Ninth Report and agreed by the House on 14 May 2002 are designed to simplify the Register, to clarify what is, and what is not, registrable, and to remove from it minor amounts and non-pecuniary, non-material items which do not come within the main purpose of the Register. In particular a threshold for registration has been adopted, defined in multiples of 1% of a Member's salary, except for sponsorship (category 4) where the threshold has been brought into line with the requirements of the Electoral Commission, namely £1,000.

  As well as sharpening the focus of the Register, the changes agreed by the House also increase the rigour of the registration requirements in some respects. Thus certain benefits received by partners are now included as well as those received by spouses, and the rules relating to interests in shares now take account of their actual rather than their nominal value. In accordance with the wishes of the Standards & Privileges Committee and the House, Members have been discouraged from registering under Category 10 unremunerated positions (eg directorships of charitable trusts, professional bodies, learned societies or sporting or artistic organisations) as these are not relevant to the main purpose of the Register. Further, Members have been discouraged from re-registering previously registrable items if these fall below the new threshold. Whilst the Register therefore contains fewer items than it used to, the result is that it focuses more clearly than hitherto on those pecuniary interests which may reasonably be thought to influence a Member's actions in Parliament. It remains, of course, a duty on Members to declare any interests, which are relevant, for example to a debate in which they are participating, irrespective of whether or not those interests are registrable.

Form of the Register

  I have continued to take into account the recommendation of the Committee for Standards in Public Life that the entries should be improved to give a clearer description of the nature and scope of the interests declared. However, subject to the Rules, each Member is responsible for the content and style of his or her own entry.

Relevant Remuneration

  Members have been required since 1974 to register their sources of paid outside employment, but until 1995 there was no requirement to disclose the amounts of remuneration. There is still no general requirement to register the amounts. However, the House of Commons 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 deposit it with me in writing. The agreements, which are available for public inspection, must include the fees or benefits of more than £550 (1% of a Member's salary) payable, in bands of up to £5,000, £5,001_£10,000 and thereafter in bands of £5,000, and these figures are shown in brackets after the Register entries. A Member is not required to deposit an agreement where he or she is paid for media work related to his or her parliamentary duties but is required to register the amount earned in the same way.

The rule against lobbying for reward or consideration

  Members of Parliament are prohibited from lobbying on behalf of outside bodies or persons from whom they receive any form of payment in excess of 1% of their parliamentary salary, if such lobbying is designed to result in a benefit exclusive to the body providing the 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 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 rule applies for the period of a year from registration. The date of registration appears against the benefit. In their Fourth Report of Session 1997-98[3], the Committee on Standards and Privileges confirmed that the same time limit should apply to single sponsorships.

The categories of registrable interests

  The form supplied to Members for the registration of their interests is divided into ten sections.

1.  Remunerated directorships

  In this section Members are required to register any remunerated directorships which they hold in public or private companies. Members are also required to register directorships which are unremunerated if the companies are associated with or subsidiaries of a company in which the Member holds a remunerated directorship.

2.  Remunerated employment, office, profession etc.

  This is the section for registering outside employment, professions and sources of remuneration not clearly covered elsewhere in the registration form. This includes membership of Lloyd's of London; Lloyd's members are required to disclose the categories of insurance underwritten.

3.  Clients

  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 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) any donation of more than £1000 received by a Member's constituency association which is linked either to candidacy at an election or to membership of the House; and (b) any other form of financial or material support as a Member. This includes any regular donation in excess of £1,000 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. It excludes constituency development agreements and other arrangements in which the identity of the Member is not a factor. Like other one-off benefits, entries relating to contributions to election expenses or to party leadership campaigns appear in a single edition of the annual printed Register and are not repeated.

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 or partner from a United Kingdom source, which in any way relates to membership of the House. Tangible gifts and other benefits over £550 (1% of a Member's salary) in value must be registered.

6.  Overseas visits

  This section covers overseas visits, made by Members or their spouses or partners, 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 exempted from registration. These include: visits paid for by, or undertaken on behalf of, the Government or 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 recognised international parliamentary bodies; 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 fellowship, the Armed Forces or Police Parliamentary Scheme or the National Council of Voluntary Organisations MP Secondment Scheme. Here again, the threshold for registration is now £550.

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 UK sources.

8.  Land and property

  The requirement in this section is to register land or property worth more than £55,000 (100% of an MP's salary)_other than any home used solely for the personal residential purposes of the Member or the Member's spouse or partner_or from which in aggregate an income in excess of 10% of an MP's salary (£5,500) is derived, for example holiday homes which are let for rent or other commercial property or land.

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 of (a) more than 15% of the issued share capital or (b) a value of £55,000 (the current parliamentary salary) at the preceding 5 April. The requirement extends to holdings in which the interest is held with or on behalf of the Member's spouse or partner or dependent children.

10.  Miscellaneous and unremunerated interests

  This is a discretionary section for the registration by Members of interests which do not clearly fall within any of the above categories but which they consider to fall within the Register's purpose. In accordance with the wishes of the Standards & Privileges Committee, unremunerated charitable and voluntary commitments have not been registered.

Administrative arrangements and inspection

  Under the authority of the Select Committee on Standards and Privileges, the Register is published by The Stationery Office at the beginning of a Parliament and thereafter approximately once a year. The published Register and its regular updates are on the Internet and can be accessed as follows:

  www.parliament.uk Select Index; select letter `R' for Register of Members' Interests.

  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 updated, in a looseleaf version. The looseleaf version is open for public inspection in the Registry of Members' Interests, in the Committee Office of the House of Commons (Tel: 020 7219 0311). 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 August, the hours of inspection are more limited. A copy of the current looseleaf Register is also placed in the Library of the House of Commons for the use of Members.

  Copies of the Code of Conduct and Guide to the Rules relating to the Conduct of Members may be obtained from The Stationery Office as House of Commons paper no. 841 of Session 2001-2002, and may be viewed on the Internet at:

  www.parliament.uk Select Index; select `C' for Code of Conduct.

Complaints

  Any complaint about the failure of a Member of Parliament to register interests or uphold the Code of Conduct according to the rules of the House of Commons should be made in writing to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, House of Commons, London SW1A OAA.

SIR PHILIP MAWER
Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards


1   House of Commons Paper No. 688 (1995-96). Back

2   First Report of the Select Committee on Members' Interests (1991-92), para. 27. Back

3   Fourth Report of the Committee on Standards and Privileges (1997-98), House of Commons Paper No. 181. Back


 
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Prepared 5 December 2002