Select Committee on Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Annual Report 2003-04


In June 2003, the House of Commons amplified the duties of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards to include the submission of an annual report to the House on the exercise of his functions. I am pleased to present this, my second report, covering the period 1 April 2003-31 March 2004.[1]

The principal duties of the Commissioner are set out in Standing Order No 150.[2] They include:

  • Overseeing the maintenance and monitoring the operation of the Register of Members' Interests and the other Registers relating to Members' staff and research assistants, Parliamentary lobby journalists and All Party Parliamentary Groups
  • advising Members and others confidentially on matters relating to registration
  • advising the Committee on Standards and Privileges and individual Members on the interpretation of the House's Code of Conduct, and more generally on questions of propriety
  • receiving and, if he thinks fit, investigating specific complaints against Members alleging breaches of the Code or of the Rules on the registration and declaration of interests.

In this report, I set out something of what this list of duties means in practice. In my last report I explained that I am trying to adopt a strategic approach to my work by:

  • taking opportunities to strengthen the machinery for sustaining high standards of conduct among MPs
  • putting more effort into trying to prevent problems before they arise
  • ensuring greater openness about how the system for regulating conduct works, coupled with a proper degree of confidentiality about individual cases.

This report sets out what further work has been done in each of these respects over the past year. I believe it records solid progress on all fronts.

That record is of potential interest to both Members and the public. To try to increase this reports value to both, I have further refined and amplified the statistical material about complaints in Section 3. In the same section, I have also described lessons of general relevance which have emerged from the Committee on Standards and Privileges' consideration of particular complaints.

Promoting and sustaining high standards of conduct in the House is not just a task for the Commissioner, but a responsibility falling on all Members. In carrying forward my part in this task, I work closely with the Committee on Standards and Privileges and the authorities of the House, as well as with the House's senior officers. I pay tribute to their help and support, and that of my immediate colleagues during what has been a challenging but positive year.

10 June 2004  Sir Philip Mawer

1   My first report was published as HC 905, Session 2002-03 Back

2   See Appendix 1  Back

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