Introduction to the 1991 Edition of the
Register of Members' Interests
In May 1974 the House resolved to establish a Register
of Members' Interests and in June 1975 substantially agreed to
a Report from the Select Committee on Members' Interests (Declaration)
which set out the purpose and scope of the Register and arrangements
connected with the registration of interests. Registration of
interests is additional to, and in no way a replacement of, the
requirement on Members to declare their interests when they speak
in debate in the House or in a Committee of the House.
The Select Committee recommended, and the House agreed,
that: "the purpose of this Register is to provide information
of any pecuniary interest or other material benefit which a Member
may receive which might be thought to affect his conduct as a
Member or influence his actions, speeches or vote in Parliament".
Members are required to have this general purpose
in mind when determining what interests should properly be declared.
To assist Members in meeting their obligation the Select Committee
identified nine categories of pecuniary interest. It emphasised
that the definitions of the various classes of interest should
be seen as broad guidelines within which Members should proceed
with good sense and responsibility. Members may disclose interests
beyond those set out below.
The scope of the Register, devised by the Select
Committee and adopted by the House, seeks to balance, on the one
hand, what should be publicly known about Members of Parliament
with, on the other, the proper degree of privacy to which they
and their families are entitled. They are not required to disclose
the amount of any remuneration or benefit they may have, nor the
interests of spouses or children, except in certain circumstances
relating to shareholdings.
It is left to individual Members, with or without
the advice of the Registrar, to give the required information,
and any inconsistencies of style or content that are apparent
in the Register spring from that fact. Each Member is responsible
for what is recorded about himself here, as each is answerable
to his fellow Members and the public.
The nine specific classes under which Members have
been required to register their interests are:
(1) remunerated directorships
of companies, public or private.
(2) remunerated employments or offices. Ministerial
office and membership of the European Parliament, Council of Europe,
Western European Union and the North Atlantic Assembly do not
need to be registered.
(3) remunerated trades, professions or vocations.
(4) the names of clients when the interests referred
to above include personal services by the Member which arise out
of or are related in any manner to his membership of the House.
These services include any action connected with any proceedings
in the House or its Committees. In addition, they include the
sponsoring of functions in the Palace, making representations
to Ministers, Civil Servants and other Members, accompanying delegations
to Ministers and the like.
(5) financial sponsorships, (a) as a parliamentary
candidate where to the knowledge of the Member the sponsorship
in any case exceeds 25 per cent of the candidate's election expenses,
or (b) as a Member of Parliament, by any person or organisation,
stating whether any such sponsorship includes any payment to the
Member or any material benefit or advantage direct or indirect.
Although the majority of the sponsorships registered within this
category are trade union sponsorships, other sponsorships falling
within this description are also registrable. This subsection
includes gifts in relation to a Member's parliamentary duties,
other than those received from abroad to which category 7 applies.
Such gifts include services: for example the full or part-time
services of a research assistant or secretary by an external organisation.
It is, however, not necessary for a Member to register the fact
that he is supported by his local constituency party.
(6) overseas visits relating to or arising out
of membership of the House where the cost of any such visit has
not been wholly borne by the Member or by public funds. Overseas
visits undertaken on behalf of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,
the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, the Council of Europe,
the Western European Union and the North Atlantic Assembly, or
by any institution of the European Economic Communities need not
(7) any payments or any material benefits or
advantages received from or on behalf of foreign Governments,
organisations or persons. In its First Report of Session 1989-90
the Select Committee on Members' Interests recommended that this
category by amended so as to make it clear that such payments
or material benefits include such benefits received by a company
in which a Member has a controlling interest, or the largest shareholding,
as well as payments or material benefits received by the Member
personally. The House agreed to the Committee's Report on 8th
(8) land and property of substantial value or
from which a substantial income is derived. The requirement is
to register the general nature of the interest rather than a detailed
list of the holdings. A Member's home need not be declared, unless
he also receives an income from it.
(9) the names of companies or other bodies in
which the Member has, to his knowledge, either himself or with
or on behalf of his spouse or infant children, a beneficial interest
in shareholdings of a nominal value greater than one-hundredth
of the issued share capital. It has not been the usual practice
to register companies which have not begun to trade or which have
Members are required to register in the appropriate
category single, as well as continuing, payments and such payments
are normally maintained in the Register for one year.
In the Register, these interests are listed under
the following abbreviated headings:
2. Employment or Office;
3. Trades or Professions, etc.;
5. Financial Sponsorships, Gifts, etc;
6. Overseas Visits;
7. Payments, etc., from Abroad;
8. Land and Property;
9. Declarable Shareholdings.
For brevity's sake, no reference is made in the Register
to individual headings under which a Member has had nothing to
As stated above, the decision of the House to establish
a Register of Interests in no way affects the obligation on Members
to declare an interest, when appropriate. Indeed, what had for
some years been a convention of debate became a rule on 22 May
1974 when the House agreed that: "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".
Any interest which is shown in the Register is, however, sufficiently
disclosed for the purpose of voting in the House or in Committee.
It is the responsibility of Members to notify changes
in their registrable interests within four weeks of the change
occurring. The Register, amended accordingly, is open for public
inspection, by prior appointment, in the Registry of Members'
Interests, situated in the Committee Office of the House of Commons
(Tel: 071-219 6615). The hours during which it may be inspected
when the House is sitting are between 11 am and 5 pm on Monday
to Thursday and between 11 am and 3 pm on Friday. During recesses
it may be inspected between 11 am and 1 pm except on public holidays,
and during the month of August when it is available for public
inspection on one day of the week. A copy of the current Register
is placed in the Library of the House for the use of Members.
This edition of the Register, reproduces the Register
as it stood on 14 January 1991. Overseas
visits, single payments or commissions and single gifts which
were recorded in previous printed editions are not repeated in
this edition but those subsequently declared are listed. In its
Third Report of Session 1987-88
the Select Committee on Members' Interests agreed that, for the
remainder of this Parliament all directorships held by a Member
during the Parliament should be listed, whether relinquished or
not. Members have generally followed this recommendation in their
entries. In this, as in the previous Register, directorships relinquished
since the first Register of the present Parliament was laid before
the House on 8th December 1987 are indicated by the word "to
..." (followed by the date upon which the directorship terminated).
New directorships assumed in the same period are indicated by
the word "from ..." (followed by the date upon which
the Member became a director).
A J Hastings
4 HC 1974-75, No.102. Back
para 11. Back
1974-75, No.677. Back
of the House, 17 December 1985. Back
1974-75, No.677. Back
1987-88, No.314. Back
1974-75, No.677. Back
& P (1989-90) 353. Back
1987-88, No.350. Back