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These notes refer to the Lords Amendments to the Parliamentary Standards Bill as brought from the House of Lords on 20 July 2009 [Bill 146]
PARLIAMENTARY STANDARDS BILL
EXPLANATORY NOTES ON LORDS AMENDMENTS
1. These explanatory notes relate to the Lords Amendments to the Parliamentary Standards Bill, as brought from the House of Lords on 20 July 2009. They have been prepared by the Ministry of Justice in order to assist the reader of the Bill and the Lords Amendments and to help inform debate on the Lords Amendments. They do not form part of the Bill and have not been endorsed by Parliament.
2. These notes, like the Lords Amendments themselves, refer to HL Bill 60, the Bill as first printed for the Lords.
3. These notes need to be read in conjunction with the Lords Amendments and the text of the Bill. They are not, and are not meant to be, a comprehensive description of the effect of the Lords Amendments.
4. In the following Commentary, an asterisk appears in the heading of the paragraphs dealing with non-Government amendments.
COMMENTARY ON LORDS AMENDMENTS
*Lords Amendment 1
5. Lords Amendment 1 would insert a new clause which provides that nothing in the Bill should be construed by any court in the United Kingdom as affecting parliamentary privilege, as set out in Article IX of the Bill of Rights 1689. Article IX provides that the freedom of speech and debates in Parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of Parliament. The new clause is inserted to remove any doubt about whether any provision in this Bill affects Article IX.
Bill 146-EN 54/4
Lords Amendment 2
6. Lords Amendment 2 would insert a new clause which provides that nothing in the Bill shall affect the House of Lords with the exception of the matters mentioned in subsection (2), that is:
7. The references in subsection (2) are to those parts of the Bill where the House of Lords has a role, either explicitly or by implication. For example, paragraphs 5(3) and (4) of Schedule 1 provide that the chair or an ordinary member of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) may be removed on an Address of both Houses of Parliament.
Lords Amendments 3 and 30
8. Lords Amendments 3 and 30 would both insert a parenthetic definition of the Speakers Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority in the Bill.
Lords Amendments 4, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 19, 20, 21, 28 and 29
9. Lords Amendments 4, 9, 28 and 29 are consequential on a package of Government amendments which makes changes to the investigation and enforcement regime. In particular, Lords Amendments 28 and 29 make clear which of the new functions are to be regulation functions for the purpose of paragraph 18 of Schedule 1.
10. Lords Amendment 11 would provide that the Commissioner for Parliamentary Investigations (the Commissioner) is to have investigatory functions as concerns the code of conduct relating to financial interests only in relation to the register of interests and not in relation to the prohibition of paid advocacy. This is because any breach of the code as it relates to paid advocacy is likely to involve proceedings in Parliament. It is thought undesirable to place the Commissioner in the position where he or she is unable to investigate a breach of the code without investigating proceedings in Parliament.
11. Lords Amendment 12 would remove the right of the IPSA to request an investigation into the conduct of an MP by the Commissioner. This is consequential on the IPSA ceasing to have a role in considering whether to give a direction or make a recommendation in consequence of an investigation by the Commissioner.
12. Lords Amendment 13 would remove the duty on an MP to provide information to the Commissioner for the purposes of an investigation. This would now be covered by amendment 14.
13. Lords Amendment 14 would remove the requirement for the Commissioner to report to the IPSA after an investigation. Instead, if the Commissioner finds that an MP has been overpaid an amount under the allowances scheme, the Commissioner must refer these findings to the House of Commons Committee on Standards and Privileges (the Committee on Standards and Privileges). However, the Commissioner need not refer these findings if the MP has accepted the findings, such other conditions specified by the IPSA are met and the MP repays the IPSA such amount as the Commissioner considers reasonable. If the Commissioner finds that an MP has failed to comply with the code as it concerns registration of financial interests, the Commissioner must refer these findings to the Committee on Standards and Privileges. However, the Commissioner need not refer these findings if the MP accepts the findings, the interest was minor or the infringement inadvertent, such other conditions specified by the IPSA are met and the MP takes steps to rectify the register. The Commissioner may also make a report to the Committee on Standards and Privileges if the MP has not provided information which the Commissioner reasonably requires for the purposes of the investigation. This gives the Commissioner a method of informing the Committee on Standards and Privileges that an MP is undermining an investigation by not co-operating with it.
14. Lords Amendment 15 is consequential on Lords Amendment 14. It would change a reference to a report from the Commissioner to the IPSA into a reference to the findings of the Commissioner. The effect would be that the procedures determined by IPSA would include the circumstances in which a finding by the Commissioner was published (rather than a report to the IPSA).
15. Lords Amendment 17 would require the IPSA to consult the Commissioner when drawing up the procedures relating to investigations, complaints and publication of findings.
16. Lords Amendment 19 would provide for a right to make representations to the Commissioner before the Commissioner refers his or her findings to the Committee on Standards and Privileges.
17. Lords Amendment 20 would insert additional safeguards concerning the procedures for an investigation or complaint. It would require the procedures to include an opportunity for the member to be heard in person, and an opportunity, where appropriate, for the member to call and examine witnesses.
18. Lord Amendment 21 would omit Clause 7 from the Bill. Clause 7 relates to the enforcement functions of the IPSA in giving directions to MPs and making recommendations to the Committee on Standards and Privileges. Clause 7 also sets out the obligation on the IPSA to prepare a protocol on working together with various bodies including the Commissioner, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Metropolitan Police. Clause 7 would be omitted so that the IPSA no longer has these functions. Instead, Lords Amendment 14 would provide that the Commissioner is to refer findings to the Committee on Standards and Privileges.
*Lords Amendments 5 and 6
19. Lords Amendments 5 and 6 would move the Speaker of the House of Commons from the third place in the list of those who must be consulted by the IPSA in preparing or revising the MPs allowances scheme to the top of the list.
Lords Amendment 7
20. Lords Amendment 7 would make it clear that the allowances which may be included in the allowances scheme and paid by the IPSA include resettlement grants payable to MPs. This is the allowance which is paid to an MP when he or she loses his or her seat or steps down from the House of Commons, and is intended to be the equivalent of redundancy pay for an employed person. The amendment would put beyond doubt that such an allowance could be included in the scheme, since strictly it is not paid to a member of the House, but only to a former member.
Lords Amendment 8
21. Lords Amendment 8 is a consequential amendment. Section 3A of the European Parliament (Pay and Pensions) Act 1979 enables an order to be made bringing the provisions about resettlement grants for MEPs into line with the equivalent provisions for MPs in resolutions of the Commons. If this power is to be available in future, where resettlement grants may be provided for in the MPs allowances scheme, section 3A of the 1979 Act needs to be amended to refer to such provision. The 1979 Act refers only to resettlement grants which are set by resolution of the House of Commons. Without the amendment, therefore, there would be no means of bringing MEPs resettlement grants into line with the arrangements for MPs.
Lords Amendment 10
22. Lords Amendment 10 would insert a new clause which provides that the IPSA must provide to MPs details of any general information or guidance about taxation issues published by HMRC that it considers they should be aware of, and also any other general information or guidance about taxation issues that it considers appropriate, consulting HMRC for this purpose as it considers appropriate.
Lords Amendment 16
23. Lords Amendment 16 would require the IPSA to consult with certain persons or bodies when determining any conditions under clause 6(5)(b) and (5B)(c) as inserted by Lords Amendment 14. The conditions are such other conditions as may be specified by the IPSA which must be satisfied before the Commissioner need not refer findings concerning overpayments of allowances or failures to comply with a requirement relating to the register of interests to the Committee on Standards and Privileges. The consultees are the Leader of the House of Commons, the Committee on Standards and Privileges and any other person the IPSA considers appropriate.
*Lords Amendment 18
24. Lords Amendment 18 makes provision in clause 6(8) which concerns the procedures drawn up by the IPSA for investigations and complaints. The amendment would provide that the procedures must be fair.
Lords Amendments 22 and 23
25. Lords Amendment 22 would remove the offences of failing to comply with a requirement relating to registration of interests and contravening the prohibition on paid advocacy from the Bill.
26. Lords Amendment 23 is consequential on the removal of the two offences and would remove the provision for the corresponding penalties.
Lords Amendment 24
27. Lords Amendment 24 would ensure that if the Committee on Standards in Public Life changed its name or its functions (or similar functions) became functions of a different body, then references in the Bill to that Committee would be read as references to the body with the new name or the different body. There are already provisions in the Bill having this effect in relation to the Review Body on Senior Salaries and to the various Committees of the House of Commons. It would be for the Speaker to determine any question about which was the successor body.
Lords Amendments 25 and 26
28. Lords Amendments 25 and 26 would introduce a review provision into the Bill. The Amendments would provide that two years after clause 5 comes into force, clauses 1(3) and (4) and 5 to 9 (and Schedule 2) would expire. These provisions relate to the Commissioner, the functions of the Commissioner, the code of conduct relating to financial interests and the offences. A Minister of the Crown may by order extend these provisions for a further period (or periods) of two years. Such an order would be subject to the affirmative procedure in both Houses.
*Lords Amendment 27
29. Lords Amendment 27 would replace ensure that with comply with sub-paragraph (2) in relation to paragraph 17(2) of Schedule 1 to the Bill. Paragraph 17(2) provides that, so far as possible, the IPSAs administration functions and its regulation functions must be carried out separately. The administration functions and regulation functions are set out in paragraph 18. This amendment is a minor drafting change.
*Lords Amendment 31
30. Lords Amendment 31 clarifies the reference to consistency in paragraph 22(4) of Schedule 1. This is a minor drafting change.
|© Parliamentary copyright 2009||Prepared: 21 July 2009|