§ Mr. Max Madden (Bradford, West)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You will know that since the general election the registrar responsible for preparing the Register of Members' Interests has contacted all Members asking any who have interests to submit them to him for inclusion in the Members' register. I understand, however, that the register is not available for inspection by either Members or the public. I understand also that it will not be available for inspection or published until the Select Committee on Members' Interests has authorised publication, which could be some time.
In these circumstances, I felt that it would be helpful for you, Mr. Speaker, to advise new Members and, indeed, former Members, of the requirement to disclose interests during debates. I should be grateful also if you would advise Members about the wisdom of disclosing interests before seeking meetings with Ministers.
I feel that it would be helpful for you to confirm the advice which has been given by your predecessors about the requirement for Members to disclose any interests that are relevant to a debate, especially in the present circumstances when the register will not be available for inspection for some time.
§ Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. When you examine the request made by my hon. Friend the member for Bradford, West (Mr. Madden), will you bear in mind the fact that since the register was compiled many years ago there have been developments and some of the categories are perhaps not sufficiently broad to encompass all the activities in which Members engage.
For instance, last week it was reported in The Sunday Times that a type of agency has been set up for political persons, including Members of Parliament to take part in non-political appearances. It was said that the leader of the Liberal party was able to gain as much as £800 a time for non-political appearances. Incidentally, this was denied. It was suggested by the person who was in charge of prime performers that the figure was not as high as that. Is it possible that a Member of Parliament, especially a leader of the Liberal party who has made his name through politics, is picking up money on the side in that fashion'? He told the Liberal party conference not to call upon him to undertake many activities in the forthcoming year, and now we know the reason.
§ Mr. Speaker
I shall answer the point of order which has been raised by the hon. Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Madden), who has done a service to the House in raising this matter, because the Select Committee has not yet authorised publication and, indeed, it has not yet been set up. I am pleased to have the opportunity to remind the House that it is necessary for hon. Members to declare an interest. It is not necessary for a Member to declare an interest at Question Time. I thank the hon. Gentleman for drawing this matter to our attention.