The Code of Conduct - House of Commons Contents


  • Guide to the Rules relating to the conduct of Members

    Introduction

    1. The purpose of this Guide is to assist Members in discharging the duties placed upon them by the Code of Conduct agreed by the House. It replaces the Guide approved by the House on 14 May 2002 (HC 841 (2001-02)). While previous editions of the Rules derived their authority from Resolutions of the House rather than from statute or common law, the attention of Members is drawn to the fact that in respect of registration categories 4, 5, and 6 there are in addition requirements imposed by the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA) as amended by the Electoral Administration Act 2006.

    2. In most circumstances, registration on the Register of Members' Financial Interests is sufficient to meet the requirements of PPERA. The Electoral Commission will extract the information to which the law entitles them from the published Register, or, where the publication timescale of the Register does not permit this, by accessing from the office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards the information provided by Members to him. In the latter case publication by the Commission will sometimes predate publication in the Register.

    3. Members remain subject to the jurisdiction of the Electoral Commission in respect of the permissibility of donations and loans, and are required to report impermissible or unidentifiable donations offered and loans accepted over £500 in value to the Commission. PPERA provides controls for the acceptance and reporting of donations and loans which, if over £500, must be from a permissible source.[6] The information required to be reported is explained in the case of permissible donations and loans under categories 4, 5, 6 and 10 and for impermissible donations is available from the Commission.

    4. No written guidance can provide for all circumstances, and the examples included in this Guide should not be regarded as constituting an exhaustive list. The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards ("the Commissioner") and the Registrar of Members' Financial Interests ("the Registrar") are available to give advice.

    5. The Guide is divided into four Sections dealing with (1) Registration of Interests (paragraphs 10-71); (2) Declaration of Interests (paragraphs 72-88); (3) Lobbying for Reward or Consideration (paragraphs 89-102) and (4) Procedure for Complaints (paragraphs 103-114).

    6. The House has two distinct but overlapping and interdependent mechanisms for the disclosure of the personal financial interests of its Members: registration of interests in a Register which is open for public inspection; and declaration of interest in the course of debate in the House and in other contexts.

    7. The main purpose of the Register is to give public notification on a continuous basis of those financial interests held by Members which might be thought to influence their parliamentary conduct or actions.

    8. The main purpose of declaration of interest is to ensure that Members of the House and the public are made aware, at the appropriate time when a Member is making a speech in the House or in Committee or participating in any other proceedings of the House, of any past, present or expected future financial interest, direct or indirect, which might reasonably be thought by others to be relevant to those proceedings.

    9. Ministers of the Crown who are Members of the House of Commons are subject to the rules of registration and declaration in the same way as all other Members (although Ministerial office is not registrable and the restrictions imposed by the ban on lobbying for reward or consideration do not apply to Ministers when acting in the House as Ministers). In addition, Ministers are subject to further guidelines and requirements laid down by successive Prime Ministers ("The Ministerial Code" (http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/propriety_and_ethics/ministers/ministerialcode)). These requirements are not enforced by the House of Commons and so are beyond the scope of this Guide.

    6   See Note on permissible donations and loans, page 25 Back


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    Prepared 23 June 2009