House of Lords
|Code of Conduct (from 31st March 2002)
This Code of Conduct came into effect on 31st March 2002.
CODE OF CONDUCT
Adopted on Monday 2nd July 2001
Purpose of the Code
(b) to provide the openness and accountability necessary to reinforce public confidence in the way in which Members of the House of Lords perform their parliamentary and public duties.
2. This Code applies to all Members of the House of Lords who have not taken leave of absence.
(b) should act always on their personal honour;
(c) must never accept any financial inducement as an incentive or reward for exercising parliamentary influence;
(d) must not vote on any bill or motion, or ask any question in the House or a committee, or promote any matter, in return for payment or any other material benefit (the "no paid advocacy" rule).
5. Members of the House should observe the seven general principles of conduct identified by the Committee on Standards in Public Life. The seven principles are:
(b) Integrity: 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.
(c) Objectivity: 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.
(d) Accountability: 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.
(e) Openness: 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.
(f) Honesty: 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.
(g) Leadership: Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.
Primacy of the public interest
Register of Interests
A Member of the House must register relevant interests before 31st March 2002 and thereafter within one month of acquiring them.
The register shall be available for public inspection in accordance with arrangements made by the Registrar. The register shall be regularly updated and shall be reprinted annually. The annual publication shall include all interests registered since the previous edition and all continuing interests unless their termination has been notified to the Registrar.
Registration and Declaration of Relevant Interests
(b) declare when speaking in the House, or communicating with ministers, government departments or executive agencies, any interest which is a relevant interest in the context of the debate or the matter under discussion. This is necessary in order that their audience may form a balanced judgment of their arguments. In cases where Members of the House vote in a division where they have a relevant interest that they have not been able to declare, they should register that interest within 24 hours of the division.
What is a relevant interest?
10. The test of relevant interest is therefore not whether a Member's actions in Parliament will be influenced by the interest, but whether the public might reasonably think that this might be the case.
11. Relevant interests include both financial and non-financial interests.
Relevant financial interests
(b) employment or any other financial interest in businesses involved in parliamentary lobbying on behalf of clients, including public relations and law firms but Members of the House involved with organisations that offer commercial lobbying services are not obliged to refrain from participating in parliamentary business in connection with all clients of that organisation but only their personal clients;
(c) any remunerated service which Members of the House provide by virtue of their position as members of Parliament, and the clients of any such service;
(d) employment as a non-parliamentary consultant;
(e) remunerated directorships;
(f) regular remunerated employment (excluding occasional income from speeches, lecturing, broadcasting and journalism);
(g) shareholdings amounting to a controlling interest;
(h) provision by an outside body of secretarial and research assistance;
(i) visits with costs paid in the United Kingdom and overseas, made as a member of Parliament, except any visits paid for from public funds.
13. The list in paragraph 12 above is not exhaustive. For example, relevant financial interests may also include (depending on their significance):
(b) landholdings (excluding Members' homes);
(c) the financial interests of a spouse or relative or friend;
(d) hospitality or gifts given to a Member which could reasonably be regarded as an incentive to support a particular cause or interest.
14. Except for remuneration received by Members for advice in relation to parliamentary matters, Members of the House are not required to disclose how much they earn from the financial interests set out in paragraphs 12 and 13, but they may do so if they wish.
Relevant non-financial interests
(b) trusteeships of museums, galleries or similar bodies;
(c) acting as an office-holder or trustee in pressure groups or trade unions;
(d) acting as an office-holder or trustee in voluntary or not-for-profit organisations.
16. The list in paragraph 15 above is not exhaustive. For example, relevant non-financial interests may also include (depending on their significance):
(b) unpaid membership of voluntary organisations.
17. Members of the House are not obliged to register membership of Churches, religious bodies and quasi-religious organisations. But it may be necessary to declare such interests (see paragraph 8).
Enforcement of the Code of Conduct
(b) If the complainant chooses to pursue the matter, he or she should refer the allegation in private directly to the Sub-Committee on Lords' Interests, through its chairman.
(c) The Sub-Committee will then examine the allegation and may decide to investigate it further or to dismiss it.
(d) In the investigation and adjudication of complaints against them, Members of the House have the right to safeguards as rigorous as those applied in the courts and professional disciplinary bodies.
(e) If after investigation the Sub-Committee finds the allegation proved, the Member complained against has a right of appeal to the Committee for Privileges.
(f) The conclusions of the Sub-Committee and of the Committee for Privileges are reported to the House.
20. Paragraph 7 shall have effect forthwith; the remainder of this Code shall have effect from 31st March 2002; and the resolution of the House of 7th November 1995 on the practice of the House in relation to Lords' interests shall cease to have effect on the same date.
|© Parliamentary copyright 2002||Prepared 8 August 2001|