Select Committee on Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Annual Report 2003-04


Appendix 1: Standing Orders Nos 149 & 150, as revised by the House on 26 June 2003

149.—(1) There shall be a select committee, called the Committee on Standards and Privileges—
  (a) to consider specific matters relating to privileges referred to it by the House;
  (b) to oversee the work of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards; 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; to review from time to time the form and content of those registers; and to consider any specific complaints made in relation to the registering or declaring of interests referred to it by the Commissioner; and
(c) to consider any matter relating to the conduct of Members, including specific complaints in relation to alleged breaches in any code of conduct to which the House has agreed and which have been drawn to the committee's attention by the Commissioner; and to recommend any modifications to such code of conduct as may from time to time appear to be necessary.
(2) The committee shall consist of eleven Members, of whom five shall be a quorum.
(3) Unless the House otherwise orders, each Member nominated to the committee shall continue to be a member of it for the remainder of the Parliament.
(4) The committee shall have power to appoint sub-committees consisting of no more than seven Members, of whom three shall be a quorum, and to refer to such sub-committees any of the matters referred to the committee; and shall appoint one such sub-committee to receive reports from the Commissioner relating to investigations into specific complaints.
(5) The committee and any sub-committee shall have power to send for persons, papers and records, to sit notwithstanding any adjournment of the House, to adjourn from place to place, to report from time to time, to appoint legal advisers, and to appoint specialist advisers either to supply information which is not readily available or to elucidate matters of complexity within the committee's order of reference.
(6) The committee shall have power to order the attendance of any Member before the committee or any sub-committee and to require that specific documents or records in the possession of a Member relating to its inquiries, or to the inquiries of a sub-committee or of the Commissioner, be laid before the committee or any sub-committee.
(7) The committee, or any sub-committee, shall have power to refer to unreported evidence of former Committees of Privileges or of former Select Committees on Members' Interests and to any documents circulated to any such committee.
(8) The committee shall have power to refuse to allow proceedings to which strangers are admitted to be broadcast.
(9) Mr Attorney General, the Advocate General and Mr Solicitor General, being Members of the House, may attend the committee or any sub-committee, may take part in deliberations, may receive committee or sub-committee papers and may give such other assistance to the committee or sub-committee as may be appropriate, but shall not vote or make any motion or move any amendment or be counted in the quorum.
150.—(1) There shall be an officer of this House, called the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, who shall be appointed by the House.
(2) The principal duties of the Commissioner shall be—
(a) to maintain the Register of Members' Interests and any other registers of interest established by the House, and to make such arrangements for the compilation, maintenance and accessibility of those registers as are approved by the Committee on Standards and Privileges or an appropriate sub-committee thereof;
(b) to provide advice confidentially to Members and other persons or bodies subject to registration on matters relating to the registration of individual interests;
(c) to advise the Committee on Standards and Privileges, its sub-committees and individual Members on the interpretation of any code of conduct to which the House has agreed and on questions of propriety;
(d) to monitor the operation of such code and registers, and to make recommendations thereon to the Committee on Standards and Privileges or an appropriate sub-committee thereof; and
(e) to receive and, if he thinks fit, investigate specific complaints from Members and from members of the public in respect of—
  (i) the registration or declaration of interests, or
(ii) other aspects of the propriety of a Member's conduct,
and to report to the Committee on Standards and Privileges or to an appropriate sub-committee thereof unless the provisions of paragraph (3) apply.
(3) No report shall be made by the Commissioner if, in any case where the Member concerned has agreed that he has failed to register or declare an interest, it is the Commissioner's opinion that the interest involved is minor, or the failure was inadvertent, and the Member concerned has taken such action by way of rectification as the Commissioner may have required within any procedure approved by the Committee for this purpose.
(4) The Commissioner may at any time in the course of investigating a complaint, and if so requested by the Committee on Standards and Privileges shall, appoint an Investigatory Panel to assist him in establishing the facts relevant to the investigation.
(5) An Investigatory Panel shall—
(a) consist of the Commissioner, who shall be Chairman of the Panel, and two assessors, one of whom shall be a legally qualified person appointed by the Commissioner and the other shall be a Member, who shall not be a member of the Committee on Standards and Privileges, appointed by the Speaker; and
(b) meet in private.
(6) The Commissioner—
(a) shall determine the procedures of the Panel, subject to the provisions of this Order; and
(b) may appoint counsel for the purpose of assisting the Panel.
(7) Any report that the Commissioner may have made to the Committee on Standards and Privileges in relation to the complaint before the appointment of the Panel shall be made available to the Panel by the Committee.
(8) Any Member who is the subject of the complaint under investigation shall, if he so requests, be heard by the Panel; may call witnesses; and may examine other witnesses.
(9) When the Panel has completed its proceedings—
(a) the Commissioner shall report as in paragraph (2)(e);
(b) the legal assessor shall report to the Committee on Standards and Privileges his opinion as to the extent to which its proceedings have been consistent with the principles of natural justice; and
(c) the Member assessor may report to the Committee on Standards and Privileges his opinion as to the extent to which its proceedings have had regard to the customs and practice of the House and its Members.
(10) The Commissioner shall report each year to the House on the exercise by him of his functions.
(11) The Commissioner may be dismissed only following a resolution of the House, moved for by a Member of the House of Commons Commission, after the Committee on Standards and Privileges has reported to the House that it is satisfied that the Commissioner is unfit to hold his office or unable to carry out his functions; and any such report shall include a statement of the Committee's reasons for its conclusion.



 
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