1.Paragraph 12 of the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament provides:
No Member shall act as a paid advocate in any proceeding of the House.
2.Taking payment in return for advocating a particular matter in the House is strictly forbidden. Members may not speak in the House, vote, or initiate parliamentary proceedings for payment in cash or kind. Nor may they make approaches to Ministers, other Members or public officials in return for such payment.
3.A Member may not enter into any contractual arrangement which fetters the Member’s complete independence in Parliament, nor may an outside body (or person) use any contractual arrangement with a Member of Parliament as an instrument by which it controls, or seeks to control, his or her conduct in Parliament, or to punish that Member for any parliamentary action.
4.The rules on lobbying are intended to avoid the perception that outside individuals or organisations may reward Members, through payment or in other ways, in the expectation that their actions in the House will benefit that outside individual or organisation, even if they do not fall within the strict definition of paid advocacy. They prevent a Member initiating proceedings or approaches to Ministers, other Members or public officials which would confer a financial or material benefit on such a person or organisation. These rules are intended to provide the right balance between enabling Members to bring to bear their experience outside the House on matters of public policy while avoiding any suggestion that the parliamentary or policy agenda can be set by an outside individual or organisation making payments to a Member.
5.The lobbying rules do not prevent a Member holding a paid outside interest as a director, consultant, or adviser, or in any other capacity, whether or not such interests are related to membership of the House.
6.The lobbying rules apply only to Members who receive an outside reward or consideration and whose activities would provide a financial or material benefit to the person or organisation providing that reward or consideration. They do not otherwise prevent Members from initiating or participating in proceedings or approaches to Ministers, other Members or public officials, even where they themselves may have a financial interest. In such cases the rules on registration and declaration apply. Members must also consider whether they have a conflict of interest. If so, they must resolve it, at once, in accordance with Paragraph 11 of the Code of Conduct.
7.Interests which are wholly personal and particular to the Member, which may arise from a profession or occupation outside the House, ought not to be pursued by the Member in proceedings in Parliament.
8.The rules place the following restrictions on Members:
a)When initiating proceedings or approaches to Ministers, other Members or public officials. Subject to paragraph 10 below, Members must not engage in lobbying by initiating a proceeding or approach which seeks to confer, or would have the effect of conferring, any financial or material benefit on an identifiable person from whom or an identifiable organisation from which they, or a family member, have received, are receiving, or expect to receive outside reward or consideration, or on a registrable client of such a person or organisation;
b)When participating in proceedings or approaches to Ministers, other Members or public officials. Members may lobby by participating in such proceedings or approaches which would confer a financial or material benefit on the identifiable person from whom or identifiable organisation from which they, or a family member, have received, are receiving or expect to receive outside reward or consideration (or on a registrable client of such a person or organisation) provided that they have not initiated those proceedings or approaches and that their approach or participation does not seek to confer benefit exclusively on that person or organisation (or on their client) and provided that that person or organisation (or their client) has not initiated the event.
9.Exceptionally, a Member may approach the responsible Minister or public official with evidence of a serious wrong or substantial injustice even if the resolution of any such wrong or injustice would have the incidental effect of conferring a financial or material benefit on an identifiable person from whom or an identifiable organisation from which the Member, or a member of his or her family, has received, is receiving or expects to receive, outside reward or consideration (or on a registrable client of that person or organisation).
10.The restrictions under the lobbying rules apply for six months after the reward or consideration was received. A Member can free him or herself immediately of any restrictions due to a past benefit by repaying the full value of any benefit received from the outside person or organisation in the preceding six month period.
11.Initiating a proceeding of the House includes:
a)presenting a Bill;
b)presenting a Petition;
c)tabling and asking a Parliamentary Question, including a Topical Question or a Question to the Prime Minister;
d)asking a supplementary question to the Member’s own Question;
e)initiating, or seeking to initiate an adjournment (or other) debate;
f)tabling or moving any motion (e.g. an “Early Day Motion”, a motion for leave to introduce a Bill under the “Ten Minute Rule” or a motion “blocking” a Private Bill);
g)tabling or moving an Amendment to a Bill;
h)proposing a draft Report, or moving an Amendment to a draft Report, in a Select Committee;
i)giving any written notice, or adding a name to such a notice, or making an application for and introducing a daily adjournment debate, or emergency debate.
12.Participating in a proceeding of the House includes:
a)making a speech in the House, in Committee of the whole House, in Westminster Hall or in a general committee;
b)making an intervention in a debate statement or other proceeding or asking a supplementary question to another’s Question;
c)asking a question in a Select Committee when taking formal evidence.
13.Outside reward or consideration includes:
a)past financial interests or material benefits, including “one-off” registrable interests, such as visits and gifts, and continuing benefits such as directorships, employment and sponsorships.
b)all present financial interests or material benefits which must be either registered or declared;
c)future financial interests or material benefits, where a Member has a firm and specific expectation that such a financial benefit from an identifiable outside person or organisation will accrue in the next six months.
14.Outside reward or consideration does not include:
a)any non-financial interest or benefit, even though this may be registered or declarable;
b)any payment to someone from the Member’s family which arises out of that person’s own occupation. This is not regarded as a benefit for the purposes of the lobbying rule, although it may be declarable.
15.An identifiable person or organisation is a named person or organisation from whom a Member has received or is receiving outside reward or consideration, or from whom a Member has a firm and specific expectation of receiving such reward or consideration, at the time of the relevant parliamentary proceeding or approach to Ministers, Members or public officials.
16.Family members comprise:
a)all those defined under registration Category 9 (see paragraph 58 of Chapter 1 of this Guide). The lobbying restriction arising from the receipt of outside reward or consideration by a family member applies only when the Member is aware or could reasonably be expected to be aware of such reward or consideration.
17.Public officials include:
a)all those who are responsible for matters of public policy, public expenditure or the delivery of public services. The term therefore includes all staff of government departments and agencies and public office holders.
18.Making any approach to a Minister, other Member or public official includes:
a)participating in or accompanying a delegation or group to discussions or meetings, whether these are formal or informal in nature.
Matters outside the lobbying rules
19.The following fall outside the lobbying rules:
a)Ministers: Members who are acting in the House as government Ministers are not subject to these rules when acting in that capacity.
b)Other elected bodies: Membership of other specified elected bodies shall not be taken into account when applying this rule. These bodies comprise: the Scottish Parliament; the National Assembly for Wales; the Northern Ireland Assembly; the European Parliament; and local authorities in the United Kingdom.
c)Constituency issues: Members may pursue any constituency interest in any approach to a Minister or public official, subject to the registration and declaration rules. NB: The lobbying rules do apply, however, in respect of Members initiating any proceeding of the House on behalf of a person or organisation in their constituency from whom or from which they, or a family member receive, have received or expect to receive outside reward or consideration.
d)Trade union sponsorship: The rules do not prohibit Members being sponsored by a trade union or any other organisation, subject to the rules on registration and declaration.
e)Representative organisations, associations, charities, etc:
i)Membership alone (i.e. without remuneration) of a trade association, staff association, professional body, charity or other similar representative organisation is not taken into account when applying the lobbying rules.
ii)A Member who is a member of a representative organisation may lobby by initiating or participating in parliamentary proceedings or approaches to Ministers, other Members or public officials in support of a policy position held by, or a campaign run by, that organisation, irrespective of any other relevant financial interest, provided any such interests are properly declared.
iii)Members who are remunerated advisers to representative organisations are subject to the lobbying rules in respect of such organisations as they would be in respect of other identifiable persons or organisations under paragraph 7 above.
f)Private Members’ Bills: Private Members (including those successful in the Ballot for Bills) are not prevented from introducing and proceeding with a Bill by reason of the fact that they receive free or subsidised assistance from an organisation connected with the purposes of the Bill, provided the Member had no pre-existing financial relationship with the organisation which is registered, or is required to be registered.
20.Former Members must abide by the restrictions of the lobbying rules for six months after their departure from the House in respect of any approach they make to Ministers, other Members or public officials. Former Members may not use their privileged parliamentary pass for the purposes of lobbying on the parliamentary estate.
21.These provisions do not apply to former Members who are Members of the House of Lords.
22.The Committee on Standards and Privileges has indicated it would expect the Committee on Standards to regard it as a serious matter if a sitting Member were influenced in his or her actions by the prospect of becoming a paid lobbyist, or entered into improper agreements relating to future lobbying activities.
23.Hospitality from foreign governments and visits outside the UK
24.Members may not initiate any parliamentary proceeding or approach to a Minister, other Member or public official which seeks to confer, or would have the effect of conferring, any financial or material benefit on a foreign government, non-governmental organisation (NGO) or other agency which has, within the previous six months, funded a visit they have undertaken or provided them with hospitality.
25.Members may, having declared their interest, participate in parliamentary proceedings or approaches to Ministers, other Members or public officials which they have not initiated and which relate to a country from which they have received hospitality or where a foreign government has funded their visit, provided that their participation does not seek to confer benefit exclusively on that government or organisation.
Points of Order
26.The Speaker has declined to receive points of order relating to registration or lobbying.
61 The definition of a family member is as under registration Category 9; see paragraph 58 of Chapter 1 of this Guide.
62 Subject to the provisions in paragraph10 above which enable a Member to free him- or herself of a past benefit.
63 Select Committee on Standards in Public Life, Second Report, Session 1994–95, HC 816, paragraph 26 and e.g. HC Deb, vol 276, col 605 and vol 277, cols 767–68
Published: 10 October 2019