§ 44. Mr. William Hamilton
asked the Lord President of the Council what pro 22 gress has been made on the inter-party talks on the establishment of a register of the outside financial interests of Members of Parliament.
§ The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. James Prior)
Discussions on this matter are still continuing.
§ Mr. Hamilton
Will the right hon. Gentleman say when he decided to extend the register to include people other than Members of Parliament? Will he say, further, how soon he expects to present a report to the House and whether we might expect action and legislation this Session?
§ Mr. Prior
The discussions which I have had with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition are, of course, confidential. For that reason I have nothing to say about extending the discussions to any other outside bodies. As for putting proposals to Parliament, when the discussions have proceeded a little further it might be useful for this House to have a chance to give its own views.
§ Mr. Heffer
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman to indicate whether he has considered that such a register, when it is drawn up, should be made public? Is he aware that some newspapers have been contacting Members of Parliament and that this has been resented, not because hon. Members are afraid to disclose their positions—I have nothing to declare, like the hon. Member for Yarmouth (Mr. Fell)—
§ Mr. Heffer
I have nothing and am quite happy to declare that I have nothing. But I object to declaring it to 23 a newspaper. Has the right hon. Gentleman considered making such a register public so that anyone can look at it? It should be a decision for this House, not for newspapers.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg
Does my right hon. Friend accept that, if there is to be such a register, many hon. Members would like to see it extended to include the interests of City journalists and other members of the media?