The Code of Conduct - House of Commons Contents

The Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament

Prepared pursuant to the Resolution of the House of 19th July 1995

I.  Purpose of the Code

1. The purpose of this Code of Conduct is to assist Members in the discharge of their obligations to the House, their constituents and the public at large by:

a)  Providing guidance on the standards of conduct expected of Members in discharging their parliamentary and public duties, and in so doing

b)  Providing the openness and accountability necessary to reinforce public confidence in the way in which Members perform those duties.

II.  Scope of the Code

2. The Code applies to Members in all aspects of their public life. It does not seek to regulate what Members do in their purely private and personal lives.

3. The obligations set out in this Code are complementary to those which apply to all Members by virtue of the procedural and other rules of the House and the rulings of the Chair, and to those which apply to Members falling within the scope of the Ministerial Code.

III.  Public Duties of Members

4. By virtue of the oath, or affirmation, of allegiance taken by all Members when they are elected to the House, Members have a duty to be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen, her heirs and successors, according to law.

5. Members have a duty to uphold the law, including the general law against discrimination, and to act on all occasions in accordance with the public trust placed in them.

6. Members have a general duty to act in the interests of the nation as a whole; and a special duty to their constituents.

IV.  General Principles of Conduct

7. In carrying out their parliamentary and public duties, Members will be expected to observe the following general principles of conduct identified by the Committee on Standards in Public Life in its First Report as applying to holders of public office.[1] These principles will be taken into consideration when any complaint is received of breaches of the provisions in other sections of the Code.


Holders of public office should take decisions solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends.


Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might influence them in the performance of their official duties.


In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit.


Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.


Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands.


Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.


Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example."

V.  Rules of Conduct

8. Members are expected in particular to observe the following rules and associated Resolutions of the House.

9. Members shall base their conduct on a consideration of the public interest, avoid conflict between personal interest and the public interest and resolve any conflict between the two, at once, and in favour of the public interest.

10. No Member shall act as a paid advocate in any proceeding of the House.[2]

11. The acceptance by a Member of a bribe to influence his or her conduct as a Member, including any fee, compensation or reward in connection with the promotion of, or opposition to, any Bill, Motion, or other matter submitted, or intended to be submitted to the House, or to any Committee of the House, is contrary to the law of Parliament.[3]

12. In any activities with, or on behalf of, an organisation with which a Member has a financial relationship, including activities which may not be a matter of public record such as informal meetings and functions, he or she must always bear in mind the need to be open and frank with Ministers, Members and officials.

13. Members must bear in mind that information which they receive in confidence in the course of their parliamentary duties should be used only in connection with those duties, and that such information must never be used for the purpose of financial gain.

14. Members shall at all times ensure that their use of expenses, allowances, facilities and services provided from the public purse is strictly in accordance with the rules laid down on these matters, and that they observe any limits placed by the House on the use of such expenses, allowances, facilities and services.

15. Members shall at all times conduct themselves in a manner which will tend to maintain and strengthen the public's trust and confidence in the integrity of Parliament and never undertake any action which would bring the House of Commons, or its Members generally, into disrepute.

VI.  Registration and Declaration of Interests

16. Members shall fulfil conscientiously the requirements of the House in respect of the registration of interests in the Register of Members' Interests and shall always draw attention to any relevant interest in any proceeding of the House or its Committees, or in any communications with Ministers, Government Departments or Executive Agencies.[4]

VII.  Duties in respect of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and the Committee on Standards and Privileges

17. The application of this Code shall be a matter for the House of Commons, and for the Committee on Standards and Privileges and the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards acting in accordance with Standing Orders Nos 149 and 150 respectively.

18. Members shall cooperate, at all stages, with any investigation into their conduct by or under the authority of the House.

19. No Member shall lobby a member of the Committee on Standards and Privileges in a manner calculated or intended to influence their consideration of a complaint of a breach of this Code.

1   Cm 2850-I, p 14. Back

2   Resolution of 6 November 1995. Back

3   Resolutions of 2 May 1695, 22 June 1858, and 15 July 1947 as amended on 6 November 1995 and 14 May 2002.  Back

4   Resolutions of the House of 22 May 1974, 12 June 1975 as amended on 19 July 1995, 12 June 1975, 17 December 1985, 6 November 1995 as amended on 14 May 2002, and 13 July 1992.  Back

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