The Code of Conduct together with The Guide to the Rules relating to the Conduct of Members - House of Commons - The Code of Conduct Contents

Chapter 2: Declaration of Members' Interests

Requirements of the House

1. Paragraph 13 of the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament provides:

    13. Members shall fulfil conscientiously the requirements of the House in respect of the registration of interests in the Register of Members' Financial Interests. They shall always be open and frank in drawing attention to any relevant interest in any proceeding of the House or its Committees, and in any communications with Ministers, Members, public officials or public office holders.

2. The declaration of interests ensures that Members, the public and others are made aware at the appropriate time, in proceedings of the House and on other occasions, of any interest relevant to those proceedings or to the actions or words of a Member. The requirement to declare an interest complements the registration requirements and applies from the time the House first sits after the Member is elected and to almost every aspect of a Member's parliamentary duties. It covers a broader range of interests than registration.

3. Declarations must be informative but succinct. A Member who has already registered an interest may refer to his or her Register entry. But such a reference is unlikely to suffice on its own, as the declaration must provide sufficient information to convey the nature of the interest without the listener or the reader having to have recourse to the Register or other publication.


4. Members are required, subject to the paragraphs below, to declare any financial interests which satisfy the test of relevance, including:

a)  past financial interests (normally limited to those active within the last twelve months);

b)  indirect financial interests, such as the financial interests of a spouse or partner, or another family member, if the Member is aware or could reasonably be expected to be aware of that interest. It is not necessary to identify the person concerned: a formula such as "A member of my family has a financial interest in [ ]"will usually suffice. The definition of a family member is as under Category 9 of the Register;[51]

c)  expected future interests, if the Member's plans have moved beyond vague hopes and aspirations and reached the stage where the Member has a reasonable expectation that a financial benefit will accrue;

d)  financial interests of a sort which do not require registration, including for example blind trusts,[52] and interests which fall below the financial thresholds;

e)  financial interests which require registration but have not yet appeared in the published Register;

f)  any registered non-financial interests.

Members may also declare, if they think it appropriate, non-financial interests which are not registered but which they consider meet the test of relevance.

5. The test of relevance is whether those interests might reasonably be thought by others to influence his or her actions or words as a Member.

6. Members are not required to declare an interest:

a)  if to do so would unduly impede the business of the House; for example, during oral Questions, when asking supplementary Questions, or when responding to a Ministerial statement; or

b)  when voting, either in the House or in committee. But a Member who has a relevant registrable interest which has not yet been registered should seek to register it before the vote; or if this is not possible, as soon as possible afterwards; or

c)  if that interest is a benefit available to all Members, such as the parliamentary salary, or expenses met from parliamentary sources or from a scheme for parliamentary expenses; or

d)  if it is a benefit provided by the Member's own party (unless it is registrable under Category 2: Donations and other support for activities as a Member of Parliament).


7. Subject to paragraphs 1 to 6 of this chapter, Members must declare a relevant interest:

a)  in the Chamber and in general committees:

i)  when speaking in a debate;

ii)  in the Committee or consideration stage of a Bill. In a Public Bill Committee a Member should declare an interest at the first meeting or when he or she first addresses the Committee. The declaration should be repeated later if speaking on any amendment to which the interest is particularly relevant;

b)  in Committee on Opposed Private Bill:

A Member nominated by the Committee of Selection to serve on a Committee on an Opposed Private Bill must sign a declaration that "my constituents have no local interest, and I have no personal interest, in the said Bill."[53] Advice is available from the Clerk of Bills.

c)  In Select Committees:

i)  at the Committee's first meeting. Members must provide details of any registered financial interests, and of any non-registrable interests which meet the test of relevance.[54] These are circulated under the authority of the Chair (if elected by the House) or in other cases the senior Member before the Committee's first meeting. Members who do not attend the Committee's first meeting must make their declaration at the beginning of the first meeting they do attend;

ii)  when the Committee is deciding on the subject of an inquiry;

iii)  at the beginning of any inquiry to which their interest particularly relates;

iv)  at sessions of evidence, and in any hearings involving witnesses to whom the interest is particularly relevant and before any questions which might reasonably be thought by others relevant to that interest.

These declarations will be recorded in the Committee's proceedings.

If the subject matter of the inquiry is of direct concern to an outside body in which a Member has a financial interest, he or she must consider whether it is proper to take part in the inquiry without conflict of interest, and whether it is possible to participate effectively in the inquiry without crossing the borderline into paid advocacy. And a Member who has a personal interest which may reflect upon the work of the Committee or its report should stand aside from the Committee proceedings relating to it.[55]

d)  When tabling any written notice:

i)  when tabling a notice for the presentation of a Bill, or tabling an amendment to a Bill. A Member who gives his or her name in support of a Bill, or who tables an amendment to a Bill, must notify the Legislation Office of any relevant interest;

ii)  when tabling oral or written Questions. Members must indicate any relevant interest on the question form. If the question is for oral answer there is no need for further declaration when called in the Chamber;[56]

iii)  when applying for urgent Questions or emergency debates. Members must inform the Speaker of any relevant interest. If the request is granted the Member must also declare the interest orally when asking the question or moving the motion;

iv)  when tabling motions, including Early Day Motions [EDMs], or amendments to motions, or adding their name to a motion or amendment. Members must indicate any interest in the appropriate place on the form;

v)  when applying for an adjournment debate. Members must inform the Table Office of any relevant interests;

vi)  when giving notice before presenting a petition and when presenting a petition in the House. Members must notify the Journal Office of any relevant interest when giving notice of presentation of a petition, providing an explanatory note if the nature of that interest is not immediately obvious from their Register entry. They must then declare any relevant interests in the House when presenting that petition;

vii)  when standing for election as chair of a Select Committee. The Member's full Register entry is published with his or her nomination.

When an interest is declared, the symbol [R] (for 'Relevant Interest Declared') will normally be printed on the relevant Notice Paper or Order Paper. If it is not readily apparent which of the Member's interests is relevant, he or she should provide an explanatory note which will then be made available for inspection.

e)  When approaching others:

Members must declare a relevant interest in any communication, formal or informal, with those who are responsible for matters of public policy, public expenditure or the delivery of public services.[57] That includes communications with Ministers, either alone or as part of a delegation: with other Members; with public officials (including the staff of government departments or agencies and public office holders). If those communications are in writing, then the declaration should be in writing too; otherwise it should be oral.

f)  When booking facilities on the parliamentary estate.

Members who book private dining rooms or any other rooms through the Facilities Department for the purpose of holding a function must indicate on the booking form if they have a relevant interest. This requirement applies if the function is on behalf of an outside organisation other than the Member's political party. Members who have such an interest must also indicate this on the invitations to their event. For this purpose a function is where significant hospitality including food and drink is provided: a declaration is not necessary when booking a room simply for a meeting or presentation where simple refreshments such as tea and biscuits may be available.

51   See paragraph 58 of Chapter 1 of this Guide. Back

52   Members should be aware that existence of a blind trust may be declarable for example during proceedings concerning legislation which would affect such trusts. In addition, if a Member is aware that the trust invests in a particular sector he or she may need to declare that where relevant. Back

53   Standing Order 120 refers. Back

54   The test of relevance is set out in paragraph 5 of this chapter. Back

55   Further guidance on select committees, including restrictions on the activities of Chairs, is available in the Guide for Select Committee Members. Back

56   There is also no need to declare an interest when asking a Supplementary Question. Back

57   The test of relevance is set out in paragraph 5 of this chapter. Back

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© Parliamentary copyright 2015
Prepared 14 April 2015