HC Deb 16 December 1985 vol 89 cc15-6
38. Mr. Winnick

asked the Lord Privy Seal what recent representations he has received about the extent of the requirement for hon. Members to disclose their interests; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Biffen

I have answered a number of parliamentary questions on this subject. As the hon. Gentleman will know, there is to be a debate tomorrow on the recent report by the Select Committee on Members' Interests.

Mr. Winnick

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that what was shown on the television programme "Newsnight" last week is bound to strengthen the view that the Register of Members' Interests should contain at least some details of the outside financial sources of hon. Members? Should not the register be strengthened by making it an obligation for all hon. Members to fill in the details? I am sure that the Leader of the House will recognise that there is also the question whether hon. Members who have financial links should be able to vote?

Mr. Biffen

The hon. Gentleman raises many points that are either in the substantive motion or in the amendments to it for tomorrow's debate. I do not think that I should anticipate what might be said tomorrow.

Mr. Marlow

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is not unreasonable for hon. Members to be sponsored by trade unions? Has he any idea how many hon. Members are sponsored by trade unions? If it were necessary to oblige Members not to vote because they were sponsored by a business interest, would that not also apply to those sponsored by trade unions?

Mr. Biffen

Again, my hon. Friend is enticing me to anticipate what I might say tomorrow evening. Wherever an interest exists, I hope that it will be registered.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

May we have an absolute assurance that there will be a free vote tomorrow night?

Mr. Biffen

That is not my responsibility, but I expect that the House will behave as it always does on such occasions.

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