Part 1: Amendments To The Code And Guide
To The Code |
The seven principles of public
4. The seven principles of public
life (the "Nolan principles") are incorporated in paragraph
9 of the House of Lords Code of Conduct and provide the context
within which the Code is read and implemented. The Committee on
Standards in Public Life has reviewed the seven principles and
concluded that the terms in which they are described could usefully
be updated. The revised descriptions are in Box 1.
Revised descriptions of the
seven principles of public life
|Selflessness: Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest.
Integrity: Holders of public office must avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or organisations that might try inappropriately to influence them in their work. They should not act or take decisions in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends. They must declare and resolve any interests and relationships.
Objectivity: Holders of public office must act and take decisions impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias.
Accountability: Holders of public office are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions and must submit themselves to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this.
Openness: Holders of public office should act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner. Information should not be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for so doing.
Honesty: Holders of public office should be truthful.
Leadership: Holders of public office should exhibit these principles in their own behaviour. They should actively promote and robustly support the principles and be willing to challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs.
5. We recommend that the revised
descriptions of the seven principles of public life should be
included in paragraph 9 of the Code of Conduct in place of the
6. Paragraph 9 of the Code requires
members to observe these principles, and states that they are
taken into consideration when any allegation of breach of other
sections of the Code is under investigation.
We believe that the principles are also a guide to Members in
meeting the requirement in paragraph 8(b) of the Code to act always
on their personal honour, and so we recommend the addition
of the following words at the end of the second sentence in paragraph
9 of the Code: "and should act as a guide to Members in considering
the requirement to act always on their personal honour."
The opening sentences of paragraph 9 of the Code would therefore
read as follows (new text in bold):
"9. Members of the House should
observe the seven general principles of conduct identified by
the Committee on Standards in Public Life. These principles will
be taken into consideration when any allegation of breaches of
the provisions in other sections of the Code is under investigation
and should act as a guide to Members in considering the requirement
to act always on their personal honour."
Paragraph 9 of the Code would then set
out the new descriptions of the seven general principles of conduct
as set out in paragraph 4 of this report.
Clear willingness to breach the
7. The Guide to the Code discusses
the term "personal honour" in paragraphs 7 and 8 and
explains that Members are required to act always on their personal
honour. However, this raises the question of what precisely constitutes
an "act". In 2009 we concluded that "Members who
express a clear willingness to breach the Code of Conduct demonstrate
a failure of "personal honour", and are thus in breach
of paragraph 4(b) of the Code."
The House endorsed that conclusion.
The issue of personal honour again arose in four recent cases
considered by the Commissioner for Standards; and two Members
were suspended from the service of the House because they were
found to have demonstrated a clear willingness to negotiate an
agreement which would have involved breaching the Code.
We believe that it would be helpful for the Guide to be clear
about these findings and so we recommend that the following
sentence, which does not express a new principle but codifies
existing practice, should be added after paragraph 7 of the Guide
to the Code:
"A member who expresses a clear
willingness to breach the Code (for example by attempting to negotiate
an agreement to provide parliamentary services in return for payment)
demonstrates a failure to act on his or her personal honour, and
is thus in breach of paragraph 8(b) of the Code."
8. Significant concern about lobbying
of Members, and about lobbying by Members, has been expressed
in the media in recent times. This concern is reflected in the
GRECO report, which recommends "that the Codes of Conduct
and the guidance for both the Commons and the Lords be reviewed
in order to ensure that the Members of both Houses (and their
staff) have appropriate standards/guidance for dealing with lobbyists
and others whose intent is to sway public policy on behalf of
The matter was also addressed in a recent report from the Committee
on Standards in Public Life on lobbying.
We believe that Members would welcome a statement of principles
on how to deal with lobbyists. We therefore recommend that
the following paragraphs should be inserted in the Guide to the
Code after paragraph 30:
"Dealing with lobbyists
30A The Committee on Standards in
Public Life has concluded that lobbying has an important part
to play in securing "the democratic right to make representations
to government and to have access to the policymaking process [which]
is fundamental to the proper conduct of public life and the development
of sound policy."
Many organisations play an important role in informing members
of the House of Lords. However, some lobbying can give rise to
a suspicion of improper influence over Parliament. Members must
have regard to such public perceptions. Members' dealings with
lobbyists should always be governed by the principles of integrity
30B Members should take particular
care not to give the impression of giving greater weight to representations
because they come from paid lobbyists; representations should
be given such weight as they deserve based on their intrinsic
merit. Members must in their dealings with lobbyists observe the
prohibitions on paid advocacy and on the provision of parliamentary
advice or services for payment or other reward. Members should
decline all but the most insignificant or incidental hospitality,
benefit or gift offered by a lobbyist."
9. We have also identified an apparent
anomaly in paragraph 21 of the Guide to the Code, which elaborates
on the prohibition on Members providing parliamentary services
in return for payment or other reward. As currently drafted it
prohibits Members from setting up a meeting with a view to someone
else lobbying ministers or officials, but it does not explicitly
prohibit Members themselves lobbying ministers or officials in
return for payment or other incentive or reward. We do not believe
this loophole was intended when the prohibition on providing parliamentary
services in return for payment was introduced in the 2010 Code.
In addition, recent cases on which we have reported indicate that
some Members seemed to believe that providing parliamentary services
in return for payment is within the rules so long as it is registered
and, where appropriate, declared.
That is evidently not the case, but for the sake of clarity we
propose additional words at the end of the paragraph. We recommend
the following amendments to paragraph 21 of the Guide to the Code
of Conduct (deleted words struck out; new text in bold)
"21. The prohibition
on accepting payment in return
for parliamentary services means that Members may not,
in return for payment or other incentive or reward, assist outside
organisations or persons in influencing Parliament
Members of either House, ministers or officials. This includes
seeking by means of participation in proceedings of the House
to confer exclusive benefit upon the organisation (the "no
paid advocacy rule"); or making use of their position to
arrange meetings with
a view to any person lobbying
lobby, or to help others to lobby, Members of either House,
ministers or officials, by whatever means. A Member may
never provide parliamentary services in return for payment or
other incentive or reward (regardless of whether the Member
intends to register and declare the interest)."
Threshold for registration of
gifts, benefits and hospitality
10. The Committee on Standards in
Public Life and GRECO both invite the House to consider lowering
the threshold for registering gifts. We see merit in this suggestion
and we recommend that the threshold for the registration of
gifts, benefits and hospitality to Members from third parties
should be reduced from £500 to £140. This would
bring it into line with the threshold in the Ministerial Code.
Threshold for registration of
11. We have considered a suggestion
from GRECO that the threshold for the registration of shareholdings
in any public or private company should be reduced. The current
threshold for such registration is any shareholding which either
(a) amounts to a controlling interest, or (b) does not amount
to a controlling interest but which exceeds £50,000 in value.
We have reviewed the matter carefully and have found no evidence
that this threshold gives rise to any misgivings. We therefore
recommend no change.
Registration of gifts, benefits
and hospitality available to all Members
12. At present benefits available
to all Members, such as concessions offered by the Houses of Parliament
Travel Office, must be registered. We do not believe that such
registration is necessary since such benefits cannot reasonably
be considered to influence all Members in the conduct of their
parliamentary duties. Moreover, one purpose of registration and
declaration of interests is to inform Members of the interests
of other Members so that they can make informed judgments about
what is said in debate. Given that Members are already aware of
such interests in the case of benefits available to all of them,
no purpose is served by the present rule. The House of Commons
does not have an equivalent rule, and we think it desirable for
the two Houses to be in step on this matter. We recommend therefore
that the last sentence in paragraph 72 of the Guide be deleted
and replaced with:
"A gift or benefit available
to all Members should not be registered."
4 A complaint will not be entertained solely on the
basis of alleged failure to abide by the seven principles: see
paragraph 10 of the Guide to the Code of Conduct. Back
Committee for Privileges, The Conduct of Lord Moonie, Lord
Snape, Lord Truscott and Lord Taylor of Blackburn (2nd report,
Session 2008-09, HL Paper 88), para 30. Back
LJ (2008-09) 537. Back
Committee for Privileges and Conduct, The Conduct of Lord Mackenzie
of Framwellgate (9th report, 2013-14, HL Paper 95); The
Conduct of Lord Laird (10th report, 2013-14, HL Paper 96).
Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate was found also to have actually
breached the code. Back
Op. cit., paragraph 53. Back
Committee on Standards in Public Life, Strengthening Transparency
Around Lobbying, November 2013: http://www.public-standards.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/2901376_LobbyingStandards_WEB.pdf Back
Sixth report from the Committee on Standards in Public Life, Reinforcing
Standards: review of the First Report of the Committee on Standards
in Public Life, Cm 4557-I, January 2000, paragraph 7.10. Back
See, for example, Committee for Privileges and Conduct, The
Conduct of Lord Blencathra (5th report, 2012-13, HL Paper
74 http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201213/ldselect/ldprivi/74/7402.htm Back