PUBLIC ACCESS TO REGISTERS
The Committee on Standards
and Privileges has agreed to the following Report:
1. Standing Order No. 149
requires us "to examine the arrangements proposed by the
Commissioner for the compilation, maintenance and accessibility
of the Register of Members' Interests and any other registers
of interest established by the House".
2. By virtue of the Resolution
of the House of 17th December 1985, three other registers - of
parliamentary journalists, of Members' staff and of All Party
and Parliamentary Groups - are maintained. These registers ("the
other registers") are not published or open to public inspection
but are available in the Library of the House for personal inspection
3. The Commissioner has
proposed to us, in a memorandum which is appended to this Report,
that the other registers should now be made open to public inspection.
We agree. There is inevitably a conflict between the protection
of individuals' privacy and allowing public access to information
which is of legitimate interest to the public, but in our view
the case for greater openness is the stronger.
4. We accept the Commissioner's
view that the degree of interest in the other registers is unlikely
to be sufficient to justify publication in conventional form.
However, if the House agrees to our proposal that they should
be opened to public inspection, we propose to investigate the
feasibility of publishing them on the Internet.
5. We therefore recommend
that the 1985 Resolution be amended, in line 31, by leaving out
the words "copies of the Registers be placed in the Library
for the use of Members" and inserting the words "the
Registers be made available for public inspection under arrangements
to be approved by the Committee on Standards and Privileges".
6. With our agreement the
Register of Members' Interests as at 31st October 1997, which
was published on 20th November, is now available on the Internet
at the following address: http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/cm199798/cmregmem/memi02.htm.
Alternatively the Register can be reached from the Parliamentary
web site (www.parliament.uk) by clicking on the following items
in turn: "House of Commons"; "House of Commons
publications on the Internet"; "Other House of Commons
papers"; "Register of Members' Interests".