The Code of Conduct together with The Guide to the Rules relating to the conduct of MembersContents

2.  Declaration of Members' Interests


"In any debate or proceeding of the House or its Committees or transactions or communications which a Member may have with other Members or with Ministers or servants of the Crown, he shall disclose any relevant pecuniary interest or benefit of whatever nature, whether direct or indirect, that he may have had, may have or may be expecting to have."

(Resolution of the House of 22 May 1974)

"For the purposes of the Resolution of the House of 22 May 1974 in relation to disclosure of interests in any proceeding of the House or its Committees,

(i)  Any interest declared in a copy of the Register of Members' Financial Interests shall be regarded as sufficient disclosure for the purpose of taking part in any division of the House or in any of its Committees.

(ii)  The term 'proceeding' shall be deemed not to include the asking of a supplementary question."

(Resolution of the House of 12 June 1975, amended on 19 July 1995 and on 9 February 2009)

"This House takes note of the First Report from the Select Committee on Members' Interests, Session 1990-91 (House of Commons Paper No. 108), relating to the interests of Chairmen and members of Select Committees, and approves the recommendations of the Committee relating to declaration of interest in Select Committees (paragraphs 8 to 16), withdrawal from Committee proceedings (paragraph 24) and procedures prior to the election of a Chairman (paragraph 25)."

(Resolution of the House of 13 July 1992: Members' Interests (Interests of Chairmen and members of Select Committees))

72.  In 1974 the House replaced a long standing convention with a rule that any relevant financial interest or benefit of whatever nature, whether direct or indirect, should be declared in debate, or other proceeding. The same rule places a duty on Members to disclose to Ministers, or servants of the Crown, all relevant interests. The term 'servants of the Crown' should be interpreted as applying to the staff of executive agencies as well as to all staff employed in government departments.


73.  The rule relating to declaration of interest is broader in scope than the rules relating to the registration of interests in three important respects. As well as current interests, Members are required to declare both relevant past interests and relevant interests which they may be expecting to have. In practice only interests held in the recent past, i.e. those current within the previous twelve months, need normally be considered for declaration. Expected future interests, on the other hand, may be more significant. Where, for example, a Member is debating legislation or making representations to a Minister on a matter from which he has a reasonable expectation of personal financial advantage, candour is essential. In deciding when a possible future benefit is sufficiently tangible to necessitate declaration, the key word in the rule which the Member must bear in mind is "expecting". Where a Member's plans or degree of involvement in a project have passed beyond vague hopes and aspirations and reached the stage where there is a reasonable expectation that a financial benefit will accrue, then a declaration explaining the situation should be made. Members are also required to declare relevant indirect interests, for instance those of a spouse or partner, and also non-registrable interests of a financial nature where these are affected by the proceedings in question (as, for instance the possession of a second home when the council tax treatment of these is under discussion). Members may also think it appropriate to declare non-financial interests of the kinds itemised in paragraph 64 where these are relevant to proceedings.


74.  It is the responsibility of the Member, having regard to the rules of the House, to judge whether a financial interest is sufficiently relevant to a particular debate, proceeding, meeting or other activity to require a declaration. The basic test of relevance should be the same for declaration as it is for registration of an interest; namely, that a financial interest should be declared if it might reasonably be thought by others to influence the speech, representation or communication in question. A declaration should be brief but should make specific reference to the nature of the Member's interest

75.  Members are, however, not required to declare interests common to all Members and solely arising from that specific capacity. For example, in a debate on employment law, Members are not required to declare any interest as employers of staff in relation to those employed wholly in connection with their parliamentary duties.

76.  The House has endorsed the following advice on the occasions when such a declaration of interest should be made: "no difficulty should arise in any proceeding of the House or its Committees in which the Member has an opportunity to speak. Such proceedings, in addition to debates in the House, include debates in Standing Committees, the presentation of a Public Petition, and meetings of Select Committees at which evidence is heard. On all such occasions the Member will declare his interest at the beginning of his remarks ... it will be a matter of judgement, if his interest is already recorded in the Register, whether he simply draws attention to this or makes a rather fuller disclosure".[21] Any declaration "should be sufficiently informative to enable a listener to understand the nature of the Member's financial interest ...",[22] and Members are advised to be specific if there is any doubt as to which interest is involved.

77.  In a debate in the House the Member should declare an interest briefly, usually at the beginning of his or her speech. If the House is dealing with the Committee or Consideration stages of a Bill it will normally be sufficient for the Member to declare a relevant interest when speaking for the first time. In Public Bill Committees, Members should declare relevant interests at the first meeting of the Committee or on the first occasion on which they address the Committee. It will not be necessary for a declaration to be repeated at subsequent meetings except when the Member speaks on an Amendment to which the interest is particularly relevant. When giving notice of an Amendment or a Motion (including a Motion for leave to introduce a "Ten Minute Rule" Bill), giving notice of the presentation of a Bill or adding a name to an amendment or motion, Members should declare any relevant interest in the appropriate manner (see paragraphs 78-81 below).


78.  Under the Resolution of 19 July 1995, Members are required to declare relevant interests on the Order Paper (or Notice Paper) when tabling any written notice initiating a parliamentary proceeding, ie:

(a)  Questions (for oral or written answer, including Urgent Questions);

(b)  Early Day Motions, Amendments to them, or any names added in support of such Motions or Amendments;

(c)  a notice of a Motion for leave to introduce a "Ten Minute Rule" Bill;

(d)  a notice for the presentation of a Bill (including a "Ballot" Bill or supporting the presentation of a Bill);

(e)  any other Motions, Amendments, or added names in support of them;

Amendments to Bills (whether to be considered in the House or in a Committee) and any names added in support of them.

79.  Whenever such an interest is declared, the symbol "[R]" is printed after the Member's name on the Notice Paper or Order Paper. The Office accepting the written notice (including any written notice of a Member adding his or her name to a Motion or an Amendment) assumes that no interest is declarable unless the notice clearly indicates a declaration: this should be done by inserting "[R]" after the Member's name on the Motion or Amendment, as the case may be, or filling in the appropriate box which appears on the form for parliamentary Questions.

80.  "Relevant interests" which should be declared include any interest which the Member is required to register in the Register of Members' Financial Interests, or which the Member should declare in debate. It will therefore usually be the case that the interest to which the Member is drawing the attention of the House will already be entered in the Register. Provided it is readily apparent which of the Member's registered interests are applicable, the Member need take no further action. If this is not the case, or if the interest is a new interest which is not yet available for inspection in the Register or is declarable but not registrable, then the Member when giving notice should attach to that notice a brief written description of the interest which is being declared. This will then be available for inspection by Members in the Office where the notice was given, viz.: the Table Office, the Public Bill Office, or the Private Bill Office. In the case of Urgent Questions which are allowed, a Member with a relevant interest should declare that interest when the Question is formally asked in the House.

81.  All Members need to exercise particular care when invited to add their names to any EDMs or other Motions or Amendments or to support Bills and to ensure that they have considered whether they have a relevant declarable interest. Given the informal way in which support for Motions, Amendments and Bills is often sought, the need for declaration may not be foremost in Members' minds, but great care needs to be exercised by Members in these circumstances.


82.  Requests for emergency debates under Standing Order No. 24 and applications for daily adjournment debates and adjournment debates in Westminster Hall are made to the Speaker. Such applications should be accompanied by a declaration of any relevant interest. When a Member is notified that he or she has been successful in obtaining an adjournment debate it is the Member's responsibility to notify the Table Office and to ensure that an indication of the relevant interest appears at the earliest opportunity on the Notice Paper or Order Paper. The procedure will be similar to that for written notices described in paragraph 78. If the Speaker allows a Member to present an application to the House for an emergency debate under Standing Order No. 24 a Member with a relevant interest should begin his or her remarks to the House with a declaration of that interest.


83.  Members of Select Committees on any matter or Bill are bound by the Resolution of the House of 13 July 1992 which approved certain paragraphs of a Report by the Select Committee on Members' Interests relating to the financial interests of Chairmen and members of Select Committees.[23] The main provisions are:

  • before the Committee proceeds to the election of a Chairman all Members nominated to serve upon a Select Committee are required to send to the Clerk of the Committee details of any financial interests for circulation to the Committee under the authority of the senior Member before its first meeting. The procedure is not necessary in the case of Select Committees of a wholly procedural nature. [Paragraph 25]
  • "when a member of a Committee, particularly the Chairman, has a financial interest which is directly affected by a particular inquiry or when he or she considers that a personal interest may reflect upon the work of the Committee or its subsequent Report, the Member should stand aside from the Committee proceedings relating to it." [Paragraph 24]
  • "before proceeding to business after the election of the Chairman, the Chairman of the Committee should invite all members of the Committee to declare any interests they may have which relate to the terms of reference of that Committee, or which are likely to be relevant to a substantial part of the work which the Committee may be expected to undertake". [Paragraph 13]
  • "A Member should make a declaration of interest at an early stage in any inquiry to which that interest particularly relates. If the interest is especially relevant to one witness or group of witnesses appearing before the Committee, the interest should be declared again at the appropriate session of evidence". [Paragraph 13]
  • A Member is required to "declare an interest when asking any questions which relate directly, or which might reasonably be thought by others to relate directly, to the financial interest he or she holds ... Such a declaration must be made irrespective of any declaration having been made at an earlier meeting of the Committee". One such declaration is sufficient for any questions asked of the same witnesses during one evidence Session. [Paragraph 13]
  • "Although the main purpose of declaration of interest is to inform colleagues, it is right that witnesses and the public, if the Committee is meeting in public, should also be informed. When a Committee meets in public, declaration of interest should be in public Session. When a Committee meets in private and regularly takes oral evidence, declaration should be made when witnesses are present." [Paragraph 13]
  • "In making any declaration a Member should clearly identify the nature of the financial interest. The form in which a declaration of interest is made, and its extent, must be primarily for the individual Member." A casual reference is not sufficient. "A Member should make a declaration in clear terms and should ensure that such a declaration is entered in the Minutes of Proceedings of the Committee." [Paragraph 14]
  • It is "perfectly acceptable for a Member, when declaring an interest which is registered in the Register of Members' Interests ... to refer to his or her entry in the Register". [Paragraph 16] (But see also the more extensive guidance in paragraph 76 above.)
  • "we stress the importance of declaration when relevant and of declaring a financial interest at the moment when it is most appropriate to do so. We do not wish to create a situation where the proceedings of Committees are frequently interrupted by declarations of tangential relevance to what is being considered ... the interests that a Member is required to register may not be at all relevant to his or her work on the Select Committee and consequently may never need to be declared during its proceedings." [Paragraph 16]

84.  Where the subject matter of an inquiry of a Select Committee is of direct concern to an outside body in which a Member has a financial interest, the Member must consider whether on grounds of conflict of interest it is proper to take part in the inquiry. The Member must also consider whether the relationship of his or her interest to the subject of the inquiry is so close that it is not possible to participate effectively in the inquiry without crossing the borderline into advocacy.


85.  Under Standing Order 120 relating to Private Business a Member nominated by the Committee of Selection to serve on a Committee on a Private Bill is required to sign a declaration "that my constituents have no local interest, and I have no personal interest, in the said Bill". To be disqualified the Member's interest must be a direct interest where there is a potential benefit or disadvantage to the Member arising from the matter in issue; or the constituency interest must be a local interest affecting the constituency as a whole or a significant number of constituents. Where a Member is in doubt, the Clerk of Bills should be consulted.


86.  The requirement to declare a relevant interest at the appropriate time covers almost every aspect of a Member's parliamentary duties extending to correspondence and meetings with Ministers and public officials. Frankness with colleagues is also important. In 1975 the House agreed to the report of the Select Committee on Members' Interests (Declaration) which contained these words: "it should be a matter of honour that a financial interest is declared not only, as at present, in debate in the House and its Committees but also whenever a Member is attempting to influence his fellow Members, whether in unofficial committees and gatherings or at any kind of sponsored occasion, with or without entertainment, or simply in correspondence or conversation. Above all it should be disclosed when a Member is dealing with Ministers of the Crown and civil servants, and his obligation becomes of paramount importance when a foreign government is involved either directly or indirectly".[24]

87.  In its application of the 1974 Resolution the House has always recognised that there are certain proceedings where declaration of interest is impracticable; e.g. during oral Questions or when asking a question in response to ministerial statement on a matter of public policy or supplementary to an Urgent Question. (The Member asking the Question should, however, declare an interest; see paragraphs 78 to 81.) However, Members are advised to declare any relevant interest when such a declaration does not unduly impede the business of the House, for example in relation to a request for a debate made in response to a Business Question or statement.


88.  For the purpose of taking part in any division in the House or in Committee, it is sufficient for the relevant interest to be disclosed in the Register of Members' Financial Interests. A Member should seek to ensure prior to a vote taking place that any relevant interest is registered, or, where it is not, should register the interest immediately after the vote.

21   Select Committee on Members' Interests (Declaration), First Report, Session 1974-75, HC 102, paragraph 43; approved by the House, 12th June 1975. Back

22   Select Committee on Members' Interests, First Report, Session 1991-92, op.cit., paragraph 80 Back

23   Select Committee on Members' Interests, First Report, Session 1990-91, HC 108.The paragraphs which the House specifically approved were: 8-16, 24 and 25.The references in square brackets relate to the paragraphs in that Report. Back

24   Select Committee on Members' Interests (Declaration), First Report, Session 1974-75, HC 102, paragraph 40 (quoting the Report of the Select Committee on Members' Interests (Declaration), Session 1969-70, HC 57). Back

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Prepared 16 April 2012