Appointment of Adviser on Ministerial
1.15 Although the House's Code of Conduct applies
to all Members, including those who are Government Ministers,
the conduct of Ministers in that capacity is subject to a separate
Code - the Ministerial Code - promulgated by the Prime Minister.
The absence of any independent element in the arrangements for
advising Ministers on the avoidance of potential conflicts of
interest and for applying the Ministerial Code was the subject
of recommendations in the Ninth Report of the Committee on Standards
in Public Life.
1.16 The distinction between the conduct of Ministers
in that capacity and their conduct in their capacity as Members
of Parliament is not one which it is always easy for the public
to follow and the absence of equivalent arrangements for regulating
Ministerial conduct to those which apply in the Parliamentary
sphere causes a number of my correspondents to be puzzled. The
Prime Minister's announcement in March of his appointment of Sir
John Bourn KCB as the independent Adviser on Ministerial Interests
is therefore a welcome step in providing the public with greater
reassurance in this area. As the Committee on Standards in Public
Life has noted, there are still questions surrounding certain
aspects of this new arrangement, and other issues identified in
the Committee's Ninth Report have still not been addressed. Nonetheless
Sir John's appointment is a step forward, and I welcome it.
1.17 As I have indicated, the boundary between the
Parliamentary and the Ministerial is not always easy to determine
and there will therefore need, on occasion, to be close liaison
between Sir John's office and my own. With this in mind, I have
already had a preliminary meeting with Sir John and look forward
to building a strong working relationship in future.