Advising the House and Individual
2.7 The advice given to many Members prior to publication
of the first Register was simply one instance of the core task
of my office in advising Members on how to meet their obligations
under the Code and the Rules. As can be seen, we do this both
by issuing general advice and by responding to requests for advice
from individual Members. This responsibility falls primarily on
the Registrar and Executive Assistant, consulting me as necessary
in particularly difficult or complex cases.
2.8 I take this opportunity to underline once again
the importance of Members seeking advice, especially in any circumstance
which is unusual or in which they are uncertain how to proceed.
Advice taken in advance of commitment to a particular course of
action can save difficulty and embarrassment later, as well as
ensure that the public interest is protected.
2.9 I am sometimes asked if there is not an inherent
conflict between my role as adviser in individual cases and my
role in investigating complaints. I seek to diminish any such
conflict by trying to ensure that the Registrar is seen by Members
as the first port of call for advice. Only if she or the Executive
Assistant (both of whom now have considerable experience in these
matters) are faced with a novel or particularly complex set of
circumstances do they come to me for a second opinion. In over
4 years now in my role, I have not found any conflict between
the two functions. In fact one helpfully informs the other. And
if a complication were to arise, the way forward would be to make
it known to the Committee on Standards and Privileges so that
it could rule on the way forward.