§ Mr. Speaker
I have selected amendment (b) in the name of the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen) and others, amendment (d) in the name of the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) and others, amendment (e) in the name of the hon. Member for Wealden (Sir G. Johnson Smith) and others, and amendment (g) in the name of the right hon. Members for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore) and for Swansea, West (Mr. Williams).
I propose that there should be a joint debate on the main Question and on the selected amendments. At 10 o'clock, in accordance with today's business of the House motion, I shall call upon Members to move their amendments formally in the order in which they appear on the Order Paper. When the amendments have been disposed of, I shall put the main Question.
Many right hon. and hon. Members wish to take part in the debate, and as it will continue for only a relatively short time I appeal for short contributions.
§ The Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. John Biffen)
I beg to move,
That this House takes note of the Report of the Select Committee on Members' Interests in the last Session of Parliament; welcomes the intention of the Committee stated in paragraphs 7 and 9 of the Report to keep under review both Parliamentary lobbying and the appropriate scope of the declaration and registration required of Members who are so engaged; emphasises that it is the personal responsibility of each Member to have regard to his public position and the good name of Parliament in any work he undertakes or any interests he acquires; confirms that the scope of the requirement to register remunerated trades, professions or vocations includes any remunerated activity in the fields of public relations and political and parliamentary advice and consultancy; and in particular agrees with the Select Committee in its statement in paragraph 10 of its Report in regard to the registration and declaring of clients that the services which require such registration and, where appropriate, declaration: 'include as well as any action connected with any proceedings in the House or its Committees, the sponsoring of functions in the Palace, making representations to Ministers, Civil Servants and other Members, accompanying delegations to Ministers and the like.'.
I hope, Mr. Speaker, that I may be the first to conform with your exhortation for tolerably brief contributions. I believe that the motion is drawn to enable a reasonably wide-ranging debate on Members' interests. I shall deal first with the modest proposals of the Select Committee and then turn to the wider issues. I shall speak very briefly to meet your wishes, Mr. Speaker.
The Select Committee's report made three specific recommendations which the Committee believed would lead to greater openness among those with access to Parliament—for example, Lobby journalists, research assistants and officers of all-party groups. These recommendations are contained in amendment (e) in the names of my hon. Friend the Member for Wealden (Sir G. Johnson Smith) and others. The motion does not propose acceptance of these specific proposals, and the reason is straightforward. I think that the major current public interest concerns the interests of Members. Therefore, I do not recommend acceptance of amendment (e). I emphasise that my view is related more to timing and tactics than to the merits of the argument.
I turn to the aspects of the Select Committee's report which relate to Members. The Committee undertook to 220 keep under review parliamentary lobbying and the appropriate scope of the declaration required of Members engaged in this activity. Furthermore, the Committee set out a clear definition of the type of services which, if performed for individual clients, would require the registration and, where appropriate, declaration of these clients' names. This definition made particular reference to the sponsoring of functions within the Palace, making representations to Ministers, civil servants and other Members, and accompanying delegations to Ministers. This clarification is embodied in the motion. This will make clear what constitutes lobbying activities which are expected to be registered. It will also sustain the register as a support for the formal declaration of interest which has been the means whereby the House has been able to judge these matters in debate over the decades.
Traditionally, proceedings in this place have worked on a basis of trust and honour among Members. The way in which the practice of declaring an interest has developed is a clear sign that declaring and, more recently, registering can work only in an atmosphere of cooperation.
In 1969, the Select Committee on Members' Interests recommended that the requirement to declare one's interests during any proceedings of the House or its Committees, or in any communication with Ministers, other Members and civil servants, should be reinforced by a resolution of the House.
That resolution was passed on 22 March 1974, when a decision in principle was taken that there should be art additional requirement to register. The continuing original requirement to declare as well as to register is a sign that the register is intended to buttress the practice of declaring and not to replace it. Indeed, declaration in debate and in the proceedings of Select Committee work remains central and crucial in enabling the House to assess and evaluate any interest.
Some have argued that the register is vitiated because it is incomplete. The resolution of the House sets out categories of interest that should be registered; but the interpretation is left to individual Members. Given the nature of the register and the assumption on which it is based, I think that this degree of self-regulation is a common sense approach.
On the other hand, a small number of Members have declined to co-operate and to file a return of interests. Hitherto, the House has not attempted to exact any discipline for this disregard of a resolution of the House. I believe that a Member who avowedly disregards a resolution of this House of Commons diminishes his parliamentary stature.
§ Mr. Biffen
Some have suggested that a register might have statutory force. I believe that this proposal encounters the most formidable problems of definition, and would compound rather than ease our difficulties. The House, I think, has been modest but realistic to require declaration and registration within the framework of a resolution of the House.
Of course, I agree that the register has only limited objectives. Even so, I think that it has a valuable role, taken alongside the practice of declaration. That role is clearly enhanced by the full declaration by Members of the 221 required information, and by the frequent updating of that information. I believe that the Select Committee will continue to pay attention to those matters and to advise and remind Members accordingly. Meanwhile, the House would be well advised to take realistic measures that will add to the authority of the register, and I believe that it has that opportunity this evening.
I wish to refer to the wider issues of interest which properly concern the House.
§ Mr. Dave Nellist (Coventry, South-East)
While we are talking about wider measures, some of us would like to raise the matter of the value of such contacts with outside business interests or with investments being included in the register. Last Thursday I intervened in business questions and asked the Leader of the House whether the Prime Minister would be coming to the debate. I suggested that if she did not attend, it might be because she is more interested in pursuing local authorities such as Liverpool and less interested in pursuing the antics of Lloyd's, because one in eight Tory Members is a member of Lloyd's. The Leader of the House accused me of low-grade McCarthyism when I made that point. I take this opportunity to apologise to him. I had my facts entirely wrong. It is not 47 Tory Members who are members of Lloyd's, but 55. Therefore, one in seven Tory Members is moonlighting in the House when his real interests lie in business outside.
§ Mr. Biffen
As ever, I appear as an inadequate alternative to the Prime Minister. I can judge only on the extraordinary moderation of my language last Thursday. I shall now continue with the issues of interest that go wider than the register.
Amendment (g) in the name of the right hon. Member for Swansea, West (Mr. Williams) reminds us of those wider considerations. It is 10 years since the matter was debated in the House. Thus, I think it is wholly understandable that the right hon. Gentleman should seek to have further consideration on issues such as the declaration of the financial nature of an interest, and whether an interest should affect the right to vote on public Bills, as well as the declaration of interests during Question Time.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Lofthouse (Pontefract and Castleford)
Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?
§ Mr. Biffen
Please allow me to go a little further. I shall not detain the House too long, but I should like to place on record my view of the general issues.
Some hon. Members have argued that Members should not be permitted outside interests. I do not share that view. I believe that there is advantage in the House having Members with outside paid interests. I think that it adds to the experience and judgment of the House. However, I also believe that such a tradition of outside interests can proceed only if we have an effective convention of declaration.
I believe that the House is best served by the declaration of interest in the proceedings of the House in the traditional sense covering debate and the work of Select Committees. I believe that it can operate only if there is mutual respect between Members and an acceptance of good faith and propriety. That somewhat traditional view of declaring an 222 interest has been supplemented with the use of a register. The register should be sustained for its supportive role to declaration.
§ Mr. Lofthouse
Can a register mean anything if it allows people to get financial gain from a particular company and, providing he registers that gain, can continue to lobby in the House and cast votes? I believe that a person who has vested interests in obtaining financial reward from a company should not be able to vote for that company.
§ Mr. Biffen
I understand the hon. Gentleman's point. I said that I would give my own view on that issue and that I would say whether it is appropriate, whatever may be my view, for the matter to be referred to the Select Committee for further consideration.
§ Mr. Biffen
I shall not give way.
In my view, our current convention involving declaration and register strikes a balance between openness in declaring the source of the interest and legitimate privacy by not expecting the Member to declare the financial extent of that interest. It is a balance that has served the House, and I do not favour its disturbance. Furthermore, I take that view not only on account of privacy. I believe that the practical problems of definition would frustrate the objective of recording the financial scale of interests.
However, I recognise the general interest in that question and, having made my own views clear, I am content with amendment (g) in the name of the right hon. Member for Swansea, West, which suggests that the Select Committee should pay particular attention to the amount of remuneration contained in an interest.
The second major problem that arises from the amendment of the right hon. Member for Swansea, West concerns whether interest should limit a Member's ability to vote on a public Bill. It has long been held that interest precluded voting on a private Bill, but there have been no corresponding inhibitions on a public Bill.
Once again, I think it is reasonable to seek the opinions of the Select Committee on the matter and I am certainly content that the House should so decide. None the less, I feel that Members' interests and the ambit of legislation run so wide and are so elastic as to make it near impossible to devise a workable rule in those matters. Even so, as with the amount of a remunerated interest, the House could be misunderstood if it was not prepared to have those broad matters generally and constructively considered by the Select Committee.
I feel that I have said sufficient to open the debate. I conclude by thanking the Select Committee for its report and by asking the House to endorse its helpful recommendations on Members' registration of lobbying interests.
I ask the House to desist, at least for the time being, from extending the register to the lobby and research assistants. I acknowledge that we should refer to the Select Committee the matters of interest and parliamentary questions, of quantified financial interest, and restrictions on voting. The House should be seen to be prepared to have considered all those matters, although I have made my own views clear on their merit and practicability. However, above all, I hope that the debate will assert our 223 concern that Parliament will continue to be helpfully served by interest and that the existence of interest will be proclaimed in such a manner that hon. Members will properly describe the reality and the forum of the House.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I think that the right hon. Gentleman must have misheard me. He should move his amendment at the end of the debate.
§ Mr. Williams
I wanted to be sure that we would debate all the individual points. I shall be as quick as possible and I shall forgo any attempt to wind up because I want as many hon. Members as possible from both sides of the House to be able to take part.
We should emphasise that this should essentially be a House of Commons debate, not a party debate.
§ Mr. Williams
The Whip seems to agree.
In making our points, I hope that we shall not make a football of the reputation of the House. I was reminded of that in a rather amusing way by a telephone call that I received yesterday morning from a charming young lady from a television channel that I shall not identify. She asked me what line I would be taking in the debate on behalf of the Opposition. After I had explained, she said that I had been very reasonable but she asked whether I would mind if she interviewed someone else instead.
I accept the conclusion of the Chairman, the hon. Member for Wealden (Sir G. Johnson Smith), and his colleagues in the early part of the report of the Select Committee on Members' Interests that it would be inappropriate to have an exclusive register of lobbyists, not because we do not want to know who the lobbyists are, but because we would be creating an elite who would gain a commercial advantage from the existence of such a register even if it could be properly defined. The conclusions of the report are well reached and well argued.
I shall deal with the proposals in the report as embedded in the amendment in the name of the Chairman. On the section relating to the lobby and the Press Gallery, I welcome the steps that have already been taken by the lobby through its practice notes to try to ensure that it limits the misuse of information that is available to it. We must bear it in mind that the lobby enjoys early information, often well before hon. Members enjoy it. They enjoy easy access to Ministers, hon. Members and off-record briefings.
For that reason, it does not seem unreasonable to me that we should adopt the recommendation in paragraph 1 of the amendment of the hon. Member for Wealden (Sir G. Johnson Smith), which requires the declaration of relevant interests. That is an important point to emphasise. We are asking not for information that is irrelevant, but just for relevant information in relation to lobby journalists' privileged positions.
The amendment also refers to secretaries and researchers. I accept that there are some abuses, although with most secretaries and researchers there is no such allegation from either side of the House. However, I wonder whether the hon. Member for Wealden's amendment goes a little too far. I should welcome his comments. He requires relevance for the lobby journalists, 224 who have greater privilege and preference in access in the House, but for secretaries and researchers he requires registration of any gainful occupation. I do not think that it matters if the secretary does a little work on a Saturday afternoon, typing for the retailer at the end of the high street. While I am sure that that is not what the hon. Gentleman intended, I suspect that that is what is captured in the amendment. The same applies to the all-party and registered groups. I agree that there should be registration and disclosure, but I wonder why the Committee chose to exclude the use of the word "relevant" in those two cases. The amendment would have been strengthened if relevance had been required in all three categories.
I am grateful to the Leader of the House for his support for the amendment in my name and that of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore). It is an attempt to take us a step ahead. We are not attempting to prejudge or predetermine the outcome, but there are areas of key concern that have been voiced on both sides of the House that merit investigation. That is all that we are asking for—that the Committee, on behalf of the House, gathers together all the evidence and brings up to date the recommendations that it would like to put before the House.
The first issue is voting. 1 readily accept that there are problems. For example, what do we do on Second Reading if an hon. Member has a nominal interest in one subsection? Is he debarred from voting on the whole 13111? That difficult issue needs to be looked at. I do not want to go into specific instances, but the difficulty is more acute in the context of a Standing Committee or a Select Committee when there is a relatively small number of votes and people have vested interests. Therefore, we should consider whether in some circumstances we should extend the current restrictions in relation to private legislation. I hope that the hon. Member for Wealden's Committee will take that on board.
§ Mr. Tony Marlow (Northampton, North)
I intervene not on the basis of party politics. However, we know that several hon. Members are sponsored by a trade union. It would be absurd if they could not vote on industrial relations legislation or legislation connected with an industry in which they were sponsored. How would the right hon. Gentleman phrase any such legislation or a recommendation to prevent that happening?
§ Mr. Williams
The hon. Gentleman is asking me to do the very thing that I have tried not to do and asked the House not to do — to prejudge the issue. I accept readily, and have said to my hon. Friends, that if we are not careful, the measure could rebound to the disadvantage of both sides, inappropriately. We need to bear that in mind.
A formula has been suggested for parliamentary questions involving taxable income. That would be for the Committee to look at and it is not for me to give snap judgments on the basis of no evidence or information.
§ Mr. Terry Lewis (Worsley)
This point should be answered. There is a great difference between a sponsored Member of Parliament who receives nothing through being sponsored by a trade union—the pittance that he is paid goes to the constituency party—and a Member who receives £8,500, which was quoted in a recent television programme. That amount was received by a Conservative Member representing a Channel tunnel company.
§ Mr. Williams
I am not dissenting from the basis of my hon. Friend's point, but all that he is doing is emphasising the need for the matter to be examined coolly and outside the rather overheated atmosphere of the Chamber. Indirect or non-monetary interests will have to be considered. Benefits in kind need to be taken into account and evaluated. All that we are asking is that the Committee should look at that.
With regard to parliamentary questions, we must bear in mind that a question can attract as much publicity as a speech. A question costs money and can provide rapid access to new information or be an easy way of supplying processed information to the questioner. It is a valuable service for those who have access to it. I float this as an idea. This option might be difficult for supplementaries, but there would be no problem in having a second box on the question form where one puts an "x", as we do when we want a priority written answer, when one submits a question in which one has an interest. When the question appears on the Order Paper, whether it is written or oral, there would be an asterisk showing that an interest has been declared. That would resolve the problem. It is done in the European Assembly, but I hardly dare mention that as an example.
Our amendment also refers to the amount of remuneration. That matter is of particular concern to my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick). He wanted to be here but, as the Leader of the House understands, there are unavoidable reasons preventing him from being present. We must recollect that declaration of amounts was rejected in the Select Committee report 10 years ago. We accepted that evidence, but we should look at it again. There have been changes and an expansion in the interests of the House. In the context of the study that we are proposing, it would be appropriate to study whether the amount should be declared and, if so, what the guidelines should be and how they should be arrived at. An example is the value of a share in an unquoted company, and the value of benefits in kind.
I do not want to appear to avoid the crunch question of enforceability. It is not in our amendment. Like many hon. Members, we lived under what proved to be the illusion that the register is unenforceable. I should welcome the guidance of the Leader of the House. I read the speeches of the then right hon. Member for South Down, Mr. Enoch Powell, in 1975. A specious argument was put forward at the time. I ask for the Leader of the House's guidance on whether the register as it stands is enforceable. No one suggests that a resolution of the House should supersede statute law, which is what Mr. Powell claimed in 1975. The resolution is not intended to do that. Paragraph 37 of the Committee's report in 1974 is headed:
"Enforcement of the Requirements to Register".
As the Clerk of the House pointed out, 'The ultimate sanction behind the obligation upon Members to register would be the fact that it was imposed by Resolution of the House … There can be no doubt that the House might consider either a refusal to register as required by its Resolutions or the wilful furnishing of misleading or false information to be a contempt'.On that basis, it seems that the same remedies are available in our internal disciplines in the House as when, for example, Mr. Speaker deals with other issues relating to contempt of the House.
§ Mr. Douglas Hogg (Grantham)
The right hon. Gentleman has been fair, but I ask him to look at amendment (d) in the name of his hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) and others. Is not that a disqualification? If an hon. Member does not declare in the register, he may not take his seat. Is not that a matter for primary legislation, not resolution of this place?
§ Mr. Williams
I looked at the amendment closely. My name is not on it because I do not have the hon. Gentleman's advantage of being a lawyer. I could not make up my mind whether it is as he describes. If my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) wants to deal with that himself, I am only too happy to relinquish the responsibility to him. I suspect that it is unnecessary, regardless of whether it is correct or incorrect, although I would welcome the guidance of the Leader of the House on whether my proposition is valid.
Is it necessary, as the Select Committee suggested in 1975–76 in the House of Commons document 479, that the House should render the resolution binding by incorporating it in the Standing Orders? As the matter stands now, does it have any mandatory basis? If the Leader of the House can give satisfactory answers when he replies on that aspect, it could preclude us from seeking to divide the House on certain other issues.
§ Mr. Robin Maxwell-Hyslop (Tiverton)
What the House can do does not depend on memoranda written by Clerks. From time out of mind when the House has passed a resolution saying something is a contempt, that does not have to be embodied in Standing Orders and so it remains until and unless the House alters that resolution. The House can expel hon. Members who place themselves in contempt of its resolutions. It does not need a memorandum from the Clerk to make that known to each and every hon. Member.
§ Mr. Williams
I quoted what the Clerk said because it seemed to me that he would stand in greater repute on legal matters than I and it was contained in the report that came to the House.
It seemed to me that the resolution was already enforceable and that is why I asked the Leader of the House whether he would make it clear whether the recommendation made in 1975–76 was necessary. My reading of the matter is that the resolution as it stands is already enforceable.
§ Mr. Robert Adley (Christchurch)
On a point of order Mr. Speaker. As you have selected amendment (b) in the name of the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen), two of his hon. Friends and three Members of the Liberal party, not a single one of whom has had the courtesy to turn up in the House, is it your intention that that should be voted upon?
§ Sir Geoffrey Johnson Smith (Wealden)
May I take your advice, Mr. Speaker, and, I hope, be given your help? The right hon. Member for Swansea, West (Mr. Williams) made an interesting comment about my amendment and suggested that the insertion in two of the recommendations of the word "relevant" might make them acceptable to the House. Would it be all right if one of my hon. Friends— I know that one is present—moved a 227 manuscript amendment later today so that the word "relevant" could be inserted'? Although the recommendations are sound, it might make for greater acceptance if that were done.
§ Sir Geoffrey Johnson Smith
I am obliged to you, Mr. Speaker.
I thank the Leader of the House for finding time to debate the Select Committee's report. It is the first time that we have had one of our reports debated and I am thankful for that. I also welcome his comments and the fact that he endorses so much of it, but naturally I am sorry that he does not agree with our three main recommendations. However, I understand his reasons and I am sure he would equally understand if I pursue the matter. I also express my gratitude to the right hon. Member for Swansea, West for the way in which he has received the report in even more generous terms.
It is particularly important for the Select Committee to have an opportunity to test the opinion of the House. The cohesion and strength of purpose of the Committee depends on its understanding of what the House will or will not bear. There is little value in producing a report which impinges so personally on hon. Members if the Committee ends up either hopelessly divided or completely out of touch with the feeling of the House. That is no way to make progress. I hope that the House will note that the Committee has met, deliberated on the matters and presented a unanimous report.
I welcome the debate for a wider reason. The House is conscious, and rightly so—my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House made this point—of the need to maintain its integrity. It recognises the fact that to do so it is essential that hon. Members are indeed honourable and open and honest with one another. Whatever political differences divide us, we know that this place depends on trust and that it is trust in one another's integrity which unites us as well as maintaining our confidence in our proceedings.
Equally—it is a point worth making in view of the interest shown by the media—we are answerable to the electorate who recognise our need to demonstrate to the public our concern and so earn their confidence in us and in the good name of Parliament. I think that we can all agree that the Select Committee is just one part of that process. It cannot do the whole job. That is why in 1969 the Select Committee recommended that the House make the declaration of interest mandatory and the register was set up in 1974. I emphasis the word "mandatory". The need to declare is not, as has often been said, and most recently repeated ad nauseam in the media, a voluntary requirement; it is mandatory. So far only one hon. Member—
§ Sir Geoffrey Johnson Smith
—one former Member has refused to declare and register his interests. We all know that nothing has happened as a consequence. The resolution of the House has not been enforced. We have invited the House on previous occasions so to do but it has decided not to enforce it. If that is the view of the House, the Committee would be most happy to reconsider the 228 matter. Undoubtedly the present system is cumbersome and unwieldy and is sometimes described as a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
Be that as it may, in 1977 the Select Committee recommended to the House that we might pursue the matter of enforcement through a Standing Order and the Standing Order—
§ Mr. Cormack
Does my hon. Friend agree that if he accepted the amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) the problem could be solved?
§ Sir Geoffrey Johnson Smith
It is one way of solving it. I have great respect for the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) who is a hardworking Member of the Committee. I would prefer not to pass any judgment but just to draw to the attention of the House the fact that there is another way of dealing with the matter through the Standing Order procedure.
§ Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop
Making it a Standing Order does not deal with it. The only thing that deals with it is a motion proposed by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House to take enforcement action against a Member who has divided, whether it be a Standing Order or a resolution. Merely making it a Standing Order does not deal with it if the Standing Order is not enforced.
§ Sir Geoffrey Johnson Smith
It seemed to the Committee in 1977 a rather less cumbersome and simpler way of enforcement than going through the procedure of asking the House to agree to a resolution and therefore to bring a Member into the contempt of the House. Those are matters we are only too happy to look at.
I hope that right hon. and hon. Members will forgive me if I say one or two things that may be obvious to some but not to others and less so perhaps to those who read our affairs and those who are involved in public relations, lobbying and other practices. Therefore, I hope that I may have the indulgence of hon. Members.
We well accept that the report is limited in scope. No Committee members considered that it was the last word on the subject of lobbying or Members' interests. However, contrary to what some may think, once the Committee produces a report it is not just disbanded. It can consider representations and complaints and to keep matters under active review.
I am grateful that the motion of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House acknowledges and welcomes the fact that we intend to keep these matters under review. The motion says that it
"welcomes the intention of the Committee … to keep under review both Parliamentary lobbying and the appropriate scope of the declaration and registration required of Members who are so engaged."
Surely that is right.
Among the duties laid upon us by Standing Order No. 107 is the duty
"to consider any proposals made by Members or others as to the form and contents of the Register … to consider what classes of person (if any) other than Members ought to be required to register and to make recommendations upon these and ocher matters which are relevant."
Some three years ago the Select Committee decided to consider whether classes of person other than Members should be required to register. The Select Committee had previously considered that question in 1974 and concluded that registration should be restricted to hon. Members 229 [Sir Geoffrey Johnson Smith] only. However, the Committee envisaged that, with the passage of time, the balance of advantage might change. Indeed, with the passage of time we have become aware of the growth in lobbying, that access to the precincts of this House has become more sought after, that the number of all-party and registered parliamentary groups has increased and that there has been a veritable flood of research assistants, notably this summer, who invade the House—
§ Sir Geoffrey Johnson Smith
I would not say that they haunt it—indeed, some of them are extremely attractive.
The committee embarked upon its inquiry into whether the register should be extended—
§ Mr. Nellist
Will the hon. Gentleman take on board the fact that there may be people—especially outside the Chamber—more interested in the fact that 55 Tory Members of Parliament are moonlighting by working here when their real interests lie outside the House? The right hon. and learned Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon) holds the chairmanship of 29 companies and a further three directorships. I do not know how he manages to attend the House at all. Remarks about secretaries and research assistants pale into insignificance—[Interruption.] Come on, Mr. Speaker, let me have a bit of protection.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will sit down. He intervened to ask a question, but he appears to be making a contribution to the debate. He must put his question.
§ Mr. Nellist
Do not remarks about secretaries and research assistants pale into insignificance compared with the number of Tory Members of Parliament who moonlight by turning up in this Chamber when their real careers lie outside the House?
§ Mr. Douglas Hogg
Does the hon. Gentleman moonlight when he is here or when he is serving as a county councillor?
§ Sir Geoffrey Johnson Smith
The hon. Member for Coventry, South-East (Mr. Nellist) is not following my argument. If he shows a little more patience, I am sure that he will find that everything that should be put into its proper perspective will be so put.
While we are conscious of the growth of professional lobbying during recent years, we are also aware of the risk of conflict of interest where hon. Members are professionally engaged in that area. We all recognise that an hon. Member must be free to discharge his duties on behalf of his constituents and the country at large. Equally, it is the right of any citizen to represent his interests through his Member of Parliament and to lobby. Whether they are companies, trade unions or charitable bodies, they all do it; it is part of the democratic process.
It was in trying to balance those considerations about lobbyists, both in terms of difficulties of definition and the wish not to appear to give any group special privilege, that the Committee rejected the idea of a register. I am grateful to have the endorsement of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House on that point.
On whether to extend the scope of what hon. Members are currently asked to declare, the Committee decided that 230 the balance struck between openness and privacy was about right. Nevertheless, it had received worrying evidence about doubtful practices, so it undertook to keep the matter under review, together with any further developments in lobbying techniques. The right hon. Member for Swansea, West will gather from what I have said that keeping the matter under review is exactly what we mean. Indeed, the Committee decided that it would be reasonable to consider some of the current practices and whether the constraints imposed upon voting intentions and the amounts earned should be declared.
The Committee considered whether to extend the register to other classes of person. It found that unexpected use was being made of the privileged access to Parliament by some of those holding passes to the Palace. Allegations were made that those with access to the building were providing a paid service to people who were other than their stated employers. That is why the Committee recommended that, for example, journalists should register other interests.
The Committee received evidence that some of those engaged in professional public relations work secured passes as Members' research assistants and secretaries to gain full and prompt access to parliamentary papers. The Committee said that they should declare their interests if they were earning over and above what they could earn for the express purpose stated for their attending the House. It is important that when hon. Members talk to a lobby journalist or research assistant they should be sure that they actually work here and do not represent some other interests.
It was not strictly within the Committee's competence to consider the use of subterfuge. However, many people find it disagreeable, as did the Committee, that the use of subterfuge is necessary to be able promptly to obtain parliamentary papers. It is clear that the solution is to provide a parliamentary bookshop with public access. I know that one is planned for the new building, but that is some years ahead. In the meantime, I hope that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House will consider setting up a temporary bookshop.
The Committee considered the question of what to do with all-party groups—now called registered groups, although they are not always registered. It discovered that some of those groups received support from outside organisations, but that that was not always declared. It felt that the House should know about that, and recommended that the groups should declare any outside sources of income. If the groups had working for them someone who was not an hon. Member but someone representing another organisation, the House should know about that also.
The Committee's recommendations are set out in the amendment and are designed to secure openness. What we are requesting should be registered is far less than that which Members are asked to declare publicly. The register would not be made public, but maintained for the use of hon. Members. I am sure that the officers of all-party and registered groups would be happy to furnish the necessary information, and the representatives of secretaries and research assistants have expressed their willingness to register.
Curiously enough, and I do not wish to offend the powerful fourth estate as many of them are friends of mine, to date it has been only the representatives of the Lobby and Gallery—those journalists who are 231 demanding that the Members' register should be extended—who have objected to being asked to register the gainful uses to which they put their privileged access to the House.
I should like to refer to the Committee's future work and put it into perspective. I hope that the right hon. Member for Swansea, West heard the message, when he was at the far end of the Chamber, that we shall look into his suggestions. The Committee has already discussed informally arid agreed to an hon. Member's request that we should consider whether an hon. Member should be called upon to declare the amount of remuneration as well as the source. It will not be easy to determine this matter, especially as some hon. Members who have put their names to one motion believe that Members should rely solely on their parliamentary salaries.
I do not want to debate the issue but shall make one point as an illustration of the problems that we are likely to face. Due to the vagaries of the election process, there is a rapid turnover of Members. Members come here knowing that their life expectancy in the first round is probably only four or five years. It is not surprising that some people with family responsibilities, knowing that they have a short spell ahead of them, cling to the lifeline of an outside interest, and I think that we should be generous in that respect. We all know that Members' needs and personal responsibilities vary. There is no career structure, no merit award system, no grading of salaries for seniority, experience or responsibility, and no demerit awards for garrulity. Minister, too, are subject to the vagaries of parliamentary fortune. They, too, can fall from grace through a mistake, a change in the election or a leader's whim. We all know that this can happen.
Constraints on voting are normally matters for the Select Committee on Procedure. However, if the Select Committee on Members' Interests is asked to consider this issue, I would expect those constraints to come within our terms of reference, providing they are discussed in a financial context. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House will give some advice on that.
We all know that the constraints under which a Minister of the Crown operates are tightly drawn. Ministers of the Crown can have no outside interests. They can draw only one salary. We all know the reasons for that. In contrast, a Back Bencher has no executive powers. In that respect, he has less power than some councillors we know. However, Members have influence—some more than others—although it is subject to all kinds of scrutiny, not least by Members themselves who have an uncanny knack from time to time of judging the merits of the influence or value of the advice of one Member against another. If it is right not to devalue that influence, it is surely common sense not to exaggerate it either. The same goes for lobbyists, who sometimes like to claim that they have more influence than they know to be the case.
The House is full of checks and balances. It is only by recognising the need to preserve the balances without weakening the checks on abuse and failing to see the need for new ones that the Select Committee on Members' Interests can proceed and earn in its own right the confidence of the House and, I hope, of those outside.
§ Mr. Roy Mason (Barnsley, Central)
I should like to refer to the 14 Select Committees which were established after the 1979 general election. The parliamentary Labour 232 party was foolish to continue manning them after the 1983 election. The Labour party has about 200 Members of Parliament. We have difficulty in manning the Standing Committees on Bills and the 14 extra Select Committees. They take about one quarter of our parliamentary strength. I suppose that, after the 1983 election, some Members of Parliament wanted the glamour of being on a Select Committee. It was an innovation, a chance to get at the Executive, to have a few swans abroad and to pick current newsy political topics for examination, followed by a burst of publicity and then, usually, a 24-hour blurb in the press.
Select Committees meet 40 per cent. of the time the House is sitting—hence empty Chambers and snide remarks from the press, making it easier for Ministers because there is less interrogation and pressure. Above all, the Government take little notice of the reports and recommendations and, apart from the reports of the Committee of Public Accounts, fewer than 5 per cent. of the Select Committee reports since 1979 have been debated.
I suppose that too many parliamentarians have a vested interest in Select Committees continuing, useless though they are. No doubt there are some more knowledgeable parliamentarians, especially those who take the subjects seriously, but only about 60 per cent. attend regularly. They get swamped with bureaucratic bumf; some do riot read it all; and Ministers, civil servants and industrialists know when questioned whether the Member of Parliament has done his homework.
I have appeared before and sat on Select Committees and therefore have some knowledge of them. Now we also have a civil servant-like structure propping them up—clerks, secretaries and typists, plus an established career structure. Those people do not want Select Committees to be curtailed or abolished either. An alliance has therefore been formed.
The 14 Select Committees represent a massive investment of money, time and travel for practically no return. Whitehall is full of dust-covered Select Committee reports which will never be heeded or debated. It is a national system—a national boring system—employing hundreds of Whitehall civil servants and House of Commons clerks, a paper-grown empire of relatively worthless activity. I believe that the Select Committees should be abolished.
This brings me to our report and the question whether it will be heeded. We are not one of those 14 Select Committees. We are not shadowing or stalking a Department. We do not have money to travel. We are a Housebound Committee examining Members' interests and how they affect the House. We sat for more than 18 months examining witnesses, lobbyists, members of the Press Gallery and others. The Committee does not have a totally free hand, because many of the in-House activities are covered by the Services Committee and complaints about Members using House facilities must be referred to that Committee.
We have prepared a report which has three main recommendations. According to the motion in the name of the Leader of the House—on this occasion, the mouthpiece of Government—the Government have decided to ignore the lot. Why have we been sitting for two Sessions? What a sheer waste of time. The Government are laughing their heads off, tucking Members away so they cannot cause any trouble. We are to be treated like 233 the rest of the Select Committees. The Leader of the House regards our report just like the vast majority of others—as dustbin material.
We recommend that, because of nefarious, dubious, money-making activities by some journalists and research assistants using, abusing and exploiting facilities in the House through the use of their job passes, three registers should be established—for lobbyists, Gallery journalists and research assistants. If there is to be a clean-up—if that is the "in" phrase—let them register their extra press jobs, public relations activities and extra-mural commercial dealings.
Of course I respect the integrity of the vast majority of our press men. There is no doubt that the majority stick to the Lobby and Gallery rooms and work solely for the paper accredited on their pass. I ask the House not to be diverted too much by the recent hoo-hah by a handful of Tory Members involved in the Channel tunnel contracts. They have been flushed out anyway and have suffered politically as a result. By concentrating on that aspect of our parliamentary affairs, the press is shrouding its own misdemeanours. Look at last Sunday's headlines: the Sunday Telegraph—The real issues of MPs' extras";The Sunday Times—New bid to make MPs come clean";and The Observer—MPs must come clean on lobbyists".There was no mention of our report or our recommendations, and no mention of cleaning up the press.
I shall support amendment (g), which was probably tabled because of the hoo-hah in recent days. The Tories swept into power in 1983 and brought in many young men who had never expected to be Members—executives, directors and those involved in public relations and advertising. They are not giving up their jobs, because they fear going out at the next sweep. They are not registering their remuneration. Their constituents would like to know, because it proves that they have no faith in staying here.
I warn my right hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, West (Mr. Williams) that there is a Biffen trap here in relation to trade union-sponsored MPs. The Committee may be given terms of reference to look at that issue—for example, how much a trade union pays a sponsored MP or his constituency party; whether the trade union employs his secretary and research assistant; how much of his general election expenses it pays; and how much it gives for weekend schools and conferences? Do the trade unions want all that revealed? On the basis of remuneration revealed—substantial sums may be involved—the Conservatives will have not a 140 majority on trade union legislation; they might have a 240 majority because we should be barring some of our own trade union colleagues from voting. We should beware of that.
Lobby and Gallery journalists have facilities made available to them on the strict understanding that they are used solely for the dissemination of news to the general public through their newspapers, news agencies, radio and news magazines. It is an abuse of Gallery and lobby membership for a member to pass on material gained through being a member, using his parliamentary press card, to interests outside journalism; in other words, to other outside interests.
234 This House is used by some journalists—we do not know how widespread is the practice—as a base for feeding information to non-news outlets, to commercial and industrial organisations, and it can be a very lucrative business. What do the Lobby and Gallery do about it? Nothing at all. It is a big cover-up, a closed shop. They know it exists, and they probably know the culprits. They can besmirch a Member of Parliament and this House, but do not want it known that they have black sheep in their family.
I urge the House to read the evidence given by Mr. Russell, the Deliverer of the Vote, beginning at page 74 of the report. Answering questions, he said:We have a number of the press and Lobby correspondents, whom again we can identify, as using the resources of the Vote Office for their own sidelines in public relations. Those two categories are quite easily identifiable. … I am talking about professional parliamentary services given to groups".When asked about research assistants, he said, revealing something similar:The same thing does arise in cases of members of the press, yes. There are several organisations, one particular one which we regard as extremely suspect in regard to its activities within the House because we do not believe that they do in fact perform the correct duties of Lobby correspondents—they are acting as an agency and obtaining an enormous amount of documents from us … In March of this year one particular press organisation, which has seven accredited members to it, took a total of £850 worth of documents other than Votes and Proceedings from the Vote Office—in the month of March.What a racket. He had to chase them week after week to force them to pay that back, because he recognised that he had to be able to defend himself should he have to appear before the Committee. There is no doubt about what is going on, and if Mr. Russell knows, the journalists know, too.
That is why our Committee wants a register for the Lobby and Gallery. They have privileged access for commercial gain. There is no telling who outside is benefiting. They could be feeding embassies and other not so friendly organisations, disseminating special material, sometimes well ahead of the time when it would normally be available to them. Some organisation will pay handsomely for that. That is why we would like to see them registered, just like Members, and that is all.
The research assistants and secretaries agree, especially the latter. At page 79 of the report hon. Members will see that Mrs. J. Griffin-Smith, on their behalf, stated:Yes, of course we will comply; it is less than you are asking Members of Parliament to do.We simply ask for a register on which to declare any other remunerated occupation, yet the Leader of the House will not accept that. I should have thought that the House would regard that recommendation of ours as a prerequisite to Members being called on to declare what remuneration they receive, because those in the Gallery and Lobby who besmirch Members on that score are as guilty themselves. Their purpose in recent weeks has been to attack hon. Members, taking the spotlight away from themselves and diverting the investigative Committee reporting of their lucrative undercover operations.
What will the Leader of the House and the Serjeant at Arms do about it? We have revealed what is happening and the evidence is there—providing political advice and intelligence for reward"—and that was part of our terms of reference. If no notice is taken of our report, the Committee might as well pack up and the Members' Register be abolished, too. We ask of others only what we are obliged to do.
§ Sir Peter Tapsell (East Lindsey)
00000: In one of the newspaper articles by which he mainly supported his family during the 1930s, Winston Churchill wrote that historians tended to overlook the not unimportant fact that politicians and their families had to eat, like everyone else.
As we know, some of our greatest statesmen have been beset by financial difficulties. Benjamin Disraeli solved his problems by marrying a rich widow many years older than himself, and Pitt the younger by not marrying at all and dying in his forties. Such drastic solutions are unlikely to commend themselves to every hon. Member, and after careful consideration I rejected both of them myself.
Many of us at some stage in our parliamentary careers have had to worry about our bread and butter, if only to guard against the possibility, as my hon. Friend the Member for Wealden (Sir G. Johnson Smith) pointed out, of losing our seats—a fate that overtook both of us at about the same time.
There are, broadly, only three categories of hon. Member for whom the financial problem does not arise. They are those with inherited wealth or rich wives; the brilliant or lucky who quickly attain ministerial office of such a prestigious nature that it guarantees them subsequent commercial employment for life; and those who are so dedicated and ascetic that they are happily prepared to accept considerable material sacrifice for themselves and their families for the honour of serving their country and constituents here.
One of our strengths in this House is that we are a broad church. There will always be many hon. Members who do not fall into any one of those three categories but who have a real contribution to make to our discussions.
The hon. Member for Coventry, South-East (Mr. Nellist) stated his position with his usual clarity and force, and let us be under no illusion that a great many people outside the House whose general political views might be less radical than his nevertheless sincerely hold the view that hon. Members should not have any sources of earned income other than their parliamentary salaries.
Indeed, that is the general view held throughout the United States. When I go there, as I did last week, people expressed astonishment on hearing that I had a modest commercial career as well as being a Member of Parliament. It is something to which those of us believe that it is important that we should retain the tradition of outside interests should apply our minds. We cannot allow the argument to go by default. It is to that rather broader aspect of the problem that I wish to address my remarks. My hon. Friend the Member for Wealden has already dealt extremely authoritatively with the technical aspects of the report of the Committee that he chaired.
If we followed the policy of not allowing Members to have outside earned incomes, it would eventually produce a membership of the House which would be unrepresentative of the country. Above all, this is supposed to be and always has been a representative assembly.
§ Mr. Nellist
Given that there are 5 million people without jobs, 8.5 million people in work who are below the poverty line and 13 million people dependent upon some form of supplementary benefit to eke out an existence, does not the hon. Gentleman think that the House is already a little unrepresentative when one in 236 seven Tory Members of Parliament has at least £100,000 cash to enable them to walk through the doors of Lloyd's, and start up as a name in a gambling syndicate?
§ Sir Peter Tapsell
I have from time to time expressed my views on how we could deal with the unemployment problem. I have applied my mind to how one can acquire the money to become a country member of Lloyd's, although I am not such a member.
If we abolished outside interests as we at present understand them, one of the rather bizarre results that the hon. Member for Coventry, South-East should recognise is that we would, as in the United States, become heavily overweighted in this House by the rich. That is what has happened in the United States.
When I was in Cleveland, Ohio, last week I was talking to the campaign manager of Senator Gary Hart, who told me that Senator Hart was one of the few top politicians in the United States who was not a rich man. It was a big problem for him. It is now virtually impossible to have a major political career in the United States unless one is rich. That is one of the results of abolishing outside interests there.
We would not just have a House of Commons which was over-weighted by the rich; there would come to be an unduly high proportion of cranks and crooks in the House. The sad fact is, as experience in many other countries has clearly shown, that the full-time professional politician with little money of his own is peculiarly susceptible to corruption and a target for the potential corrupter. Those who advocate the banning of honest, declared—
§ Mr. Douglas Hogg
My hon. Friend has the reputation of being one of the more independent Members of the House. Does he agree that the possession of an external interest enhances the independence of Back Benchers? If we prohibit them, Back Benchers will be even more dependent than they currently are on the favour of the Whips' Office; that is in no one's interest.
§ Sir Peter Tapsell
It has occurred to me occasionally, as I have become less poor in recent years than I was when I first entered the House, that I should not, perhaps, have been able to maintain my customary high morale for 26 years on the Back Benches if I had had nothing else to do except to look at the denizens of the Treasury Bench, intriguing though so many of them sometimes are.
Those who advocate the banning of honest, declared outside business interests on the premise that it is the only sure way to maintain impeccable standards of behaviour among Members of Parliament have a mistaken grasp of human psychology. Honesty springs from the man and not from his method of remuneration.
There is another important consideration. The House will be aware of the definition of an economist as someone who knows 70 different ways of making love but has never met a woman. I cannot believe that it would he in the national interest to have a House of Commons consisting entirely of Members who knew 70 different ways of raising taxes and 70 different ways of spending other people's money but who had never made or lost any money for themselves.
There is already some danger that we are moving in that direction. When I first entered the House there were quite a few Members on both sides who had done or were doing something fairly worthwhile outside the House. There were captains of industry, trade union leaders and 237 distinguished barristers. There were those who had held high rank in the armed services—Jacky Smyth had won a Victoria Cross—or held high rank in the colonial service.
In the Labour party, there was a large and greatly respected group of men who had spent many years at the pit face before coming to the House to represent mining constituencies. On the Tory side, there were the knights of the shires, the genuine article which is almost extinct in the House today. The miners and the knights usually paired with one another, drank together and shared a mutual scepticism of their Front Benches, which they never expected to join. They did not much interest themselves in arcane matters such as proper management of the economy. They provided a ballast and set a tone which is not always evident today. Above all, they were honest. They did not need to be told the difference between right and wrong by young men drawing on the full weight of their experience at polytechnics and advertising agencies.
Of course, this place needs and always has had plenty of full-time politicians. It would not work without them. They perform an invaluable service to the country. They must be catered for by proper salaries and allowances and, I would argue, by much better pension arrangements for them and their widows. But to limit membership of the House entirely to full-time professionals would be to lower its quality, to reduce the variety of its knowledge and to weaken its collective wisdom.
I should, perhaps, interpose here, in view of the intervention of the hon. Member for Coventry, South-East, that I do not think that I have an interest to declare tonight, because I am at least as well equipped to abandon all my outside commercial interests as the next man. I forbear to do so only out of pity for my party Whips.
No one is more repelled by financial dishonesty or by the shady and underhand conduct of affairs than I am. I detest and despise those of that ilk in the House and the City, and always have. I remember my Presbyterian grandfather, in whose home I grew up, saying when I was not more than five years old, "Never be funny about money." That simple phrase has stuck in my mind ever since, and I have always acted on it.
In any group of men, and perhaps even women, although it is more unusual among women, there will always be a few rotten apples in the barrel, but that is no reason to stop eating apples. There must be full and open disclosure of outside commercial interests. How they can best be declared and if necessary controlled is a matter for discussion, but declared they must be. That has long been the rule and the practice. I much prefer the traditional verbal convention to the written register, but if the register is here to stay, it must be made compulsory. Certainly, the Select Committee of Privileges should proceed sternly against any hon. Member who is found deliberately to have concealed a relevant outside interest. Yet it would be a black day for the House and the country if no hon. Member had any outside interest to declare.
§ 9 pm
§ Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington)
The irony of the debate is that, while we are demanding an end to self-regulation in the City because of a deterioration in 238 standards, some hon. Members are arguing that self-regulation is sufficient in the House, where there has also been a deterioration in standards. The truth is that some hon. Members have allowed inducements to influence their judgments, and increasingly we are hiding behind the term "honourable Gentlemen" to disguise what is in reality an erosion of the standards expected of us. The public are worried and ask, "What will Parliament do about it?"
My hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley, Central (Mr. Mason) argued adequately and with great subtlety for the Select Committee's recommendations, particularly in respect of journalists, research assistants, and all-party groups. I wish not to rehearse those matters, but to deal with the terms of my narrow amendment, which to some extent goes to the heart of the problem. The problem is that we are simply not enforcing the register. It is not only that one hon. Member has failed to declare his interest, as the hon. Member for Wealden (Sir G. Johnson Smith), the Chairman of the Committee, said. During the past one and a half years there have been many occasions when hon. Members, including some of my hon. Friends, have refused to sign the register and declare an interest. The reason is simple. Unless the register is enforced for those who deliberately set out to avoid it, they will not comply with it. I refer specifically to Mr. Enoch Powell.
When hon. Members are asked about the credibility and integrity of the register, they always refer to the position of Mr. Enoch Powell. The House has been unwilling to find the right hon. Gentleman in contempt of our House. In a speech in a debate on Members' interests, Mr. Powell made his position clear. Referring to the rule of the House, which the House was about to decide on, he said that itis ineffective and degrading … unlawful and unconstitutional.I shall deal with the arguments that he deployed. Mr. Powell commenced his speech with a cautionary note expressing the view that the issue—the excesses of some hon. Members—was being generated only by the press. He argued that the rule would be ineffective, and said:A sufficient number of hon. Members know very well quite enough about the background of their colleagues … This is a place where, whatever we may individually think, we walk about as naked and visible as if we were under some kind of imaginary X-rays.So the idea that the register will disclose astonishing facts about Members of this House of which the rest of us have been ignorant and which, either dishonourably or in a fit of amnesia, those hon. Members have not happened to mention, is really an absurdity.I would say that his view was an absurdity, because the register has provided an abundance of information. It has done the reverse of what Mr. Powell was suggesting.
Mr. Powell then said that it was degrading to have a rule whereby Members are required to register. He said:we degrade ourselves by implying that our honour and our traditions are not adequate to maintain proper standards in this House.That is equally absurd. Definitions of the code of honour are highly subjective. It might be said that when the right hon. Gentleman, accused the Prime Minister of being treacherous as he did the other week, he offended my sense of honour. It might be that my comments about the right hon. Member for Waveney (Mr. Prior) last Friday and his interest in GEC may have offended the code of honour or understanding of honour adopted by the Leader of the House or Conservative Members.
239 The point is that honour is a highly subjective assessment. What constitutes honour? Our duty is to create some form of benchmark. The code or rule sets the benchmark.
Mr. Powell then argued that the introduction of a rule on registration would be unlawful and unconstitutional. He said:it is the representation of the people for which we are seeking to legislate by a resolution of the House. We are saying that no one should seek to be a Member of Parliament, and no one is fit to sit and speak and vote as a Member of Parliament who does not comply with the condition of completing an entry in a register. That is something that the House has no power to do. We have no power to alter the law of the land by a resolution of the House."—[Official Report, 12 June 1975; Vol. 893, c. 742–25.]That has given birth to all the arguments about the need to legislate for the register if it is to be fully enforced.
I am not saying that no one should seek to be a Member of Parliament unless he has complied with the register. People are free to stand and be elected under my amendment. The hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Adams) is a Member of Parliament, although he has not taken the oath. He has stood, has been duly elected and is known as a Member of Parliament. He is able to carry out his functions as a Member if he so wishes, to some extent. All that we are saying under the rules of the House is that, if he wishes to participate in the Chamber, past the Bar, he must apply our rules and before taking the oath comply with the register. That is what my amendment would seek to do.
§ Mr. Campbell-Savours
I am sorry, but my hon. Friends would like to speak, and I wish to finish my speech.
According to "Erskine May", 20th edition, page 283, a Member who has not taken the oath is neverthelessentitled to all the other privileges of a Member, (but not his salary).Therefore, he can receive his mail, correspond with Ministers, enjoy the services of the House, be provided with accommodation, use our cafeterias and bars. He can even come into the Chamber as long as he does not pass the Bar, the white line. Indeed, he can attend meetings of our Committees and speak, although he has not taken the oath. We are not preventing, by way of a rule, a Member being a Member of Parliament. We are simply preventing him from participating in the Chamber.
There is a precedent for this. On the same page of "Erskine May" there are these precedents for hon. Members who formerly did what I have referred to. It says:On 13 April 1715 it was resolved 'that Sir Joseph Jekyll was capable of being chosen of a committee of secrecy, though he had not been sworn at the Clerk's table.' On 11 May 1858, acting upon this precedent, the House added Baron Rothschild, who had then continued a Member for eleven years without having taken the oaths, to the committee appointed to draw up reasons to be offered to the Lords for disagreeing to the Lords' amendments to the Oaths Bill, at a conference of which he was appointed one of the managers. On 11 May 1880 Mr. Bright was appointed a member of the Parliamentary Oath Committee upon which he served and voted, before he had made his affirmation.There is adequate precedent for hon. Members to come to the House and participate fully in all aspects of our 240 activities. They are precluded only from engaging in debate in this Chamber. All that we are doing is denying access to a particular location.
There is even a precedent for this. There is a precedent for exclusion areas within the precincts of the Palace of Westminster. There is a precedent for conditionality to the performance of a parliamentary function. That is in the case of an opposed private Bill Committee where a declaration by the Member that he has no personal pecuniary interest must be made prior to the Member serving on that Committee. There are, therefore, other areas of this House that are forbidden those who fail to submit to the rules of the House.
I am simply maintaining tonight that that is the precedent. To talk of legislation is to mislead the House. In the event of my amendment being carried at the end of this debate, we shall have added another rule. We shall have prevented nobody from being elected to this House. Such a person will enjoy all of our facilities, apart from one. He will not be allowed into the Chamber unless, prior to taking the oath, he has signed the register and declared his interests.
§ Sir Ian Gilmour (Chesham and Amersham)
The House has just listened to an interesting and extremely tortuous argument by the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours). I cannot help thinking that he plays into the hands of the former right hon. Member for South Down, Mr. Powell. He is proposing a form of disqualification that this House cannot impose. If it is important that there should be an enforceable register of Members' interests, why on earth does not the House legislate to overcome the difficulties that were put forward by Mr. Powell? If it is so important, there would be no real difficulty because, as far as I know, there is only one hon. Member who would oppose the legislation. The Government could therefore legislate, which would avoid the tortuousness of the argument of the hon. Member for Workington.
I very much approve of the Select Committee's approach and that of my right hon. Friend the Member for Shropshire, North (Mr. Biffen), but there is one point about which I venture to disagree. The suggestion that there should be a register of professional lobbyists has been dismissed. The Committee had some doubts about dismissing it, but I think that my right hon. Friend had fewer doubts about doing so. I do not believe that the definition problem is very important because those who know who are professional lobbyists are the professional lobbyists themselves. If a professional lobbyist is found to be lobbying professionally but has not registered, he will be in an even worse position than hon. Members who get into certain difficulties and he will be exposed. In any case, it is not too difficult to define a professional lobbyist, so I hope that the Committee will look again at this matter. It is a little artificial to refer to giving privileges to people. If control is ever to be exercised, there must be a register. If it is right that there should be a register for hon. Members, there should also be a register for professional lobbyists. Therefore, I hope that my right hon. Friend and the Committee will look again at this matter.
I do not go quite so far as my hon. Friend the Member for East Lindsey (Sir P. Tapsell), but I should like to deal briefly with two of the fallacies about interests and people's worries about those interests. A number of people 241 seem to think that if an hon. Member has an interest, that interest disturbs the general judicial judgment which all hon. Members bring to bear on all matters. If one does not have an interest, people tend to think that we consider the matter and immerse ourselves in the subject and become very well informed and so produce our judicial judgment unswayed by anything.
All hon. Members know that we do not do that and there has not been a debate in that sense in the House this century. An interest is not a piece of mud thrown into an otherwise clear, limpid pool; it is a piece of mud thrown into a lot of other mud.
Hon. Members have many different interests. Hon. Members on both sides of the House are very intent on pleasing the Patronage Secretary. That is a reasonable thing to do as he is a very good man and a very good man to please. But such an interest is likely to sway an hon. Member's judgment, as with a number of other matters. For example, other hon. Members may be swayed by a desire for publicity.
It is a fallacy to say that if an hon. Member has a pecuniary interest in a matter his judgment will be far worse than that of another hon. Member. If there were such people—and there may be one or two in the House —it is not my view that they would be better than an hon. Member who has no interest at all, as such a Member may well be a crank or a fanatic. I would prefer hon. Members to have interests rather than to be cranks or fanatics.
There are some hon. Members who are completely dominated by ideology, and I am not being unfair if I cite the example of the hon. Member for Coventry, South-East (Mr. Nellist). I believe that most hon. Members would agree that the hon. Gentleman is a useful Member of the House. However, most hon. Members would agree that if the House were composed entirely of hon. Members like the hon. Gentleman there would be too many of his kind.
§ Mr. Nellist
Unlike the Tory Members who are too busy with directorships and consultancies to play a full role in the House, I bring the experience of spending two years six months out of three years on the dole before I came to the House. The House would be a lot better if there were far fewer business men, consultants, bankers and members of Lloyd's and more people who have had direct experience of the Tory Government's mass unemployment policies and who have lived in some of the housing in which the Government have condemned people to live.
§ Sir Ian Gilmour
I agree that the experience of the hon. Member on the dole is highly relevant. That is not something one would choose to have experience of, but I respect that experience. The hon. Gentleman will agree that the Labour party has enough difficulty choosing its own members without him trying to choose members for the Conservative party.
The majority of the Labour party has always been very sound on the interests point. That is why they have the block vote. As Sidney Webb said, they needed many trade union people with interests to control the madmen in the constituency Labour parties. It has been a tradition of the Labour party to understand the value of interest.
A great deal of nonsense has been written in the press about the Channel tunnel. Nobody thinks that the Channel tunnel question will be decided by the House. It will be 242 decided by the two Governments involved and all hon. Members will dutifully vote for it and a little lobbying here or there will make no difference to the outcome. The question of the Channel tunnel has been greatly exaggerated.
It is important that there should be disclosure and I have made one or two suggestions to increase that disclosure, but the press should calm down, and hon. Members should also remain calm.
§ Mr. Paddy Ashdown (Yeovil)
It was a great pleasure to listen to the elegant speech of the right hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham (Sir I. Gilmour). I part company with him on his central point—the question of interest—because although his points were fairly made, we are here talking about pecuniary interest.
This was the first Select Committee on which I have served, and it was a pleasure to do so under the chairmanship of the hon. Member for Wealden (Sir G. Johnson Smith). The report now before us touches on a narrower aspect than the debate in which we are now engaged. It touches on the specific aspect of lobbying, and it has come up with a sensible set of recommendations that were fairly outlined by the hon. Member for Wealden.
The report is a sensible and commendable first step in dealing with a developing problem. Many will say that it does not go far enough, and many would wish to have seen temporary as well as permanent research assistants brought within the register proposed by the Select Committee. Many others might feel that the amount that Members of Parliament receive for their lobbying activities should be listed. But hon. Members who have sat on Select Committees will know that these matters require delicate balance in order to receive the support of the whole Committee.
Some may say that the report does not go far enough, whereas others may feel that it goes too far. But, as the right hon. Member for Barnsley, Central (Mr. Mason) effectively said, many members of the press believe that it goes too far in its recommendations relating to them, judging by the intemperate and wholly inaccurate comments that have been made. This report should be seen as a first step to be built on later, no doubt in the light of the comments made in this debate.
I totally support the view that the declaration of financial interests should be made obligatory. That declaration is in danger of being reduced to the level of a farce if it is not made obligatory by some means or other. I listened with care to the interesting, though slightly Byzantine, speech of the hon. Member for Workington, (Mr. Campbell-Savours) and although I would have preferred the amendment in the name of my right hon. Friend the Member Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen)—[HON. MEMBERS: "Where is he?"] That amendment has not been selected, and having listened to the interesting arguments of the hon. Member for Workington, I think that his proposal is better. I am glad that it has been selected, and I shall support it.
Another amendment in the name of my right hon. and hon. Friends requires that we should declare all sources over and above parliamentary salaries, including the amounts received. The Select Committee considered whether that would infringe the privacy of Members of Parliament or their clients, but in my view when a person joins this House he is involved in the business of public 243 affairs and must therefore relinquish some of that privacy. It is right and proper that such a person and others with whom he is in contact should be prepared to forgo some of the privacy so that the affairs with which we are dealing can be seen to be more open.
Privacy often leads to secrecy, and secrecy is the blanket behind which corruption can take place. I do not say that it does. I therefore believe that there is a need to declare all sources over and above parliamentary salaries. Personally, I would go even further. There is only one loyalty that Members of this House have, and that loyalty is derived from the vote cast in the ballot box. It is that which makes their loyalty signally and exclusively to the British people.
§ Mr. Ashdown
I will have to answer that challenge. We hear some curious sophistries from the Labour party about how union funds which are passed not into its hands—not into individual hands or members' hands—but to constituencies in no way need declaration and that they do not intend to corrupt a Member of Parliament's judgment and need not be declared. What a curious piece of sophistry. The British School of Motoring fund was a contribution not to a Member—[Interruption]— of Parliament or to his constituency but to a party.
§ Mr. Ashdown
I merely draw attention to the fact that, when the amendment upon which this farrago was based—relating to driving instruction—came before the House of Lords it received Liberal and SDP support and Labour party support. This is a matter upon which, I am delighted to note, Labour Weekly recently commented—perhaps more honestly than Labour Members of Parliament. Labour Weekly said:We apologise unreservedly to BSM and its Chairman … and we are happy to take this opportunity to put the record straight.It is a great pity that Labour Weekly seems to have more honesty in this matter than many Labour Members of Parliament.
If I may now return to the substance—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The hon. Gentleman said that he would mention that slightly contentious matter. Could he now be heard in silence?
§ Mr. Ashdown
I hope that hon. Members will forgive me if I try to make some progress.
I believe that there is one primary loyalty, which is exercised exclusively and which derives from the ballot box. Any other source of paid employment must create conditions which—I do not say "necessarily result"—encourage, if not corruption certainly dilution of that primary loyalty. This is an opposite view to that taken by the right hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham but it is an honestly held individual view.
The hon. Member for East Lindsey (Sir P. Tapsell), who is not now in his place, talked about the need to pay Members of Parliament effectively and sufficiently if they 244 are to answer only to that primary loyalty. In my view, it is not a question of Members' salaries, which are in themselves adequate, but allowances for secretarial and research assistants, which are not.
§ Mr. Ashdown
I have one salary which I receive as a Member of Parliament and I have neither pension nor any other outside remuneration. Furthermore, I wish to make it clear that I have to spend more than £6,000 of my parliamentary salary for my research assistants and the resources that I need to do my job effectively. We need —[Interruption.]
§ Mr. Ashdown
I can see the time. I have a point to make and I intend to make it. I see the hon. Member for Staffordshire, South (Mr. Cormack) looking at his watch. Just at the moment, I am on my feet and I intend to stay on my feet and make those points even if I have the whole House baying at me. The result is that other hon. Members who have something to say will not be able to do so. I suggest that they might learn to sit back and listen. That might be an appropriate way for them to behave in the House. They dishonour the House by such behaviour as this. I shall continue so long as I get a decent hearing.
Paying Members of Parliament at the present level is appropriate for their needs, but we also need adequate resources to pay for the staff that we need to help us do our job effectively, and we do not have sufficient resources for that at the moment. In this regard, we have something to learn from the United States. I understand that representatives of the people there are not entitled to any other outside payment.
§ Mr. Ashdown
Precisely. They must be paid adequately for that to happen. It is true that the United States system is corrupted by the process of campaign funds. Just as they look to our system of campaign funds and wish that they had a similar one to prevent corruption, we might look to their system of paying representatives adequately so that, in service, they cannot be corrupted.
It has been made quite clear that I am in a minority. I fully recognise that, but I take strength from the belief that what I have advanced will prove to be the prevailing view. I understand that it was Ibsen who said that in a democracy, the minority is always right. I think that my party sometimes takes comfort from that.
The amendment is a first step. It does not end up where I should like it to but I hope that it will be accepted. The Government have lectured the country about values but the Government's values have elevated private greed to a public virtue. We have seen how those values have infected the City of London with corruption and how it has spread like a cancer into Lloyd's. Those great institutions are in danger of descending into a cesspit of sharp practice and corrupt dealing. It would be all too easy for those values, created by the atmosphere that the Government have fostered, to spread into this House. Many people outside, having seen such dramatic programmes as that which was recently shown on "Newsnight," I believe that that is in imminent danger of happening. I believe that such fears are groundless and that the House and the 245 Members of it are still worthy of the title "honourable." It is up to us, however, to come to terms and to be seen to come to terms with the threat that is now posed.
The Select Committee report is a useful start in a limited area. I commend it, not as a solution but as a first step in a continuing process to put our own house in order and to ensure that our integrity and our right to represent the people of Britain is protected and unsullied.
§ Mr. Robert Adley (Christchurch)
The hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown) will forgive me if I do not follow his tortured deliberations. I agree with him in one respect. My hon. Friend the Member for Wealden (Sir G. Johnson Smith) chaired the Committee extremely agreeably and satisfactorily and all of us who served on it thank him.
I strongly agree with the right hon. Member for Barnsley, Central (Mr. Mason) that the Select Committee's conclusions undoubtedly upset the press, which has tried to ridicule our proposals and divert attention from the contents of our report. It is clear from this evening's proceedings that the press has no shortage of willing helpers.
I shall deal with three false assumptions which I believe overlie most of the public discussion on hon. Members' interests and connected matters. The assumption of several Opposition Members that money affects the behaviour of hon. Members more than any other factor is rubbish. One Opposition Member has been persistent, and properly so, in his representations to the Committee about declarations of interests, but he is not present this evening because he is facing a reselection process in his constituency. No one could pretend that the pressures that he faces from those who control his destiny bear any resemblance to the pressure brought about by moneys that hon. Members earn through activities outside the House. No one could suggest that outside earnings exert more influence over the behaviour of hon. Members than constituency Labour parties.
Many of us understand what some hon. Members sponsored by the National Union of Mineworkers went through during the miners' strike because they were unable to state publicly the views they held privately about Arthur Scargill. That pressure has not been mentioned tonight, but it is more insidious than sums of money.
The second assumption is that hon. Members have outside interests only to pursue parliamentary campaigns. That is rubbish. Many hon. Members, whether they are business men, professional people or whatever their occupation, have given years of their lives acquiring experience which is not only of value to those they serve but which enriches the advice that they lend to the House.
For many years, since before I came to the House, I have been involved with a hotel group. A few years ago I was offered a senior position in that company on condition that I left the service of the House. I declined. It is nonsense to perpetuate the assumption that Members of Parliament pursue outside interests only to influence other hon. Members and Ministers.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Sir I. Gilmour) has already touched on the third assumption. During the current discussion on the Channel fixed link, it was seen that Ministers on occasions 246 have to deal with decisions that could benefit commercial companies. Those occasions are extremely rare. The reality is that many lobby organisations take money from their clients under false pretences. They pretend to their clients that by hiring the services of a parliamentary consultancy the companies will gain the inside track and the ear of hon. Members and Ministers to influence decisions. Generally, that is absolute nonsense. It suits those organisations to exaggerate the influence of Back Benchers. We should have nothing to do with that.
We should examine further some of the proposals that have been put forward tonight. I utterly reject the proposition that hon. Members should not have outside interests, for many of the reasons already put forward by my right hon. Friend the Member for East Linsey (Sir P. Tapsell). If no outside interest were allowed, many with real ability might refuse to stand for Parliament and that could not be good for the country.
If changes are to be made, let us not only consider the United States example. Recently a delegation from Hungary visited Britain. None of its Members of Parliament is paid and all have outside occupations. Perhaps we should consider receiving no pay, but continuing with our outside occupations to bring the experience of trade union leaders or business men to bear. However, that would probably be unacceptable.
Perhaps a slightly odd suggestion would be that Members' pay should be related to what they were earning before coming to the House and not to a fixed sum. At least that would separate the sheep from the goats. The other alternative to outside interests is to pay Members a going rate on the basis of other legislatures. I do not want to share the United States experience, which would mean that one would have to be rich to become a Member. That would be wrong. On the whole, we have an open and honest society. Let us examine some of the propositions that have been made this evening, but let us not get carried away on a wave of hysteria which bears no relation to reality.
§ Mr. Merlyn Rees
(Morley and Leeds, South) The hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr. Adley) raised two issues that rang bells in my mind. First, I was reselected last Friday by a party which accepts disagreement with me and believes that that is part of political life. The hon. Gentleman mentioned Members of Parliament in Hungary. I am advised that they meet six days a year. I agree very much with the amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours). If we vote in favour of it this evening, the 15 Ulster Unionist Members, when they return in the new year, and among them Mr. Enoch Powell, will be hoist by the words of my hon. Friend's amendment.
As for the hon. Member for East Lindsey (Sir P. Tapsell), I observe that it is not only eminent statesmen who are short of money. I have known Members of this place with private incomes who have been cranks and sometimes barmy. It is not only those with another income who are independent of political forces. It is not only country gentlemen who can look sceptically at their Front Bench.
The hon. Member for Christchurch raised an issue briefly and then dismissed it, but I am concerned about the Channel tunnel, especially during the next five or six months when it is discussed in this place. It is an issue that will not be covered by the register. If all those concerned 247 registered their interest in the firms involved in the project, my concern would not be removed. The motion emphasises that it is:the personal responsibility of each Member to have regard to his public position and the good name of Parliament in any work that he undertakes or any interest he acquires".If I have learnt anything in this place, it is that many so-called parliamentary consultants and lobbyists obtain money for doing precious little. There are so many in industry who believe that they are receiving a service of importance, and one that, in fact, cannot be delivered. However, that is their fault. It is a measure of the lack of knowledge of the way in which Government works that they are prepared to pay so-called consultants and lobbyists.
Last week, the Secretary of State for Transport said that it had not been decided whether there would be a fixed link nor which of the four schemes was preferable. He mentioned the four valid proposals and said that they would be assessed by the Anglo-French group. He told us that after the President of France and the Prime Minister had made a decision, a White Paper would be produced. He explained that the hybrid Bill procedure would be adopted and that then the House would decide.
Only rarely in Government, as an Army Minister or an Air Force Minister, did I ever decide anything about the provision of equipment for the armed forces. As Home Secretary, I certainly did not decide who was to build a prison. That was certainly not the position in Northern Ireland, because there one decides who will not build a prison.
§ Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop
The House will not have the chance of deciding between one project and another. The choice will be merely yes or no on the only choice before us. That is rather different.
§ Mr. Rees
I understand that, but the House will decide and that is why we stupidly get Christmas cards from Channel tunnel promoters. I believe that two companies have done that. If I was making the decision, those are the two companies that would not get the contract because the people running them must be daft if they think that that will influence anybody in the House. That important issue will influence the south of England and ports in other parts of the country, and we shall play a part in the decision.
I believe that no Member of Parliament should receive any payment for acting as a consultant lobbyist for any one of the four Channel tunnel schemes. It was said this evening that under the private Bill procedure one must sign a statement to the effect that there is no pecuniary advantage. There is an element of private Bill procedure in the hybrid arrangements for discussing the Bill. If that is good enough for the private Bill procedure, and the private Bill procedure is embedded in the hybrid procedure, the same thing should apply. It would be wrong for any hon. Member to receive anything for being involved in lobbying for something on which we are to take a decision.
In addition to that, at the end of the day it is the Government's job to provide information about the four schemes. It should not come from lobbyists. If I want to interest myself in the four schemes, I do not wish to go to a lobbyist to find out about them. If I were a Minister I would obtain information from officials on which to decide about the four schemes. There would be procedures in the cinema downstairs and one would spell out the 248 advantages and have people in to discuss the scheme. I have raised the issue, albeit briefly, because in the past week or 10 days, having read through all the Select Committee's reports, it has struck me that a register by itself will not do. The register simply asks hon. Members to list those things in which they have an interest.
Before the register there must have been occasions in private Bill procedures when hon. Members had an interest—for example when the railways and the canals were built in the 18th century.
The House and the Government must do something because too many people are asking whether I saw the "Newsnight" programme the other day, showing the way in which people are obtaining money on an issue for which the House is directly responsible. That is not the sort of thing that the hon. Member for Christchurch mentioned—money for doing nothing—because industrialists and people in commerce do not know what they are doing. That is for real and we should do something about it.
§ Mr. Tony Marlow (Northampton, North)
One of the current problems in the register is that it is filled in at about this time of the year. Some of the issues such as the Channel tunnel can suddenly come up halfway through the year, and they have been debated and decided by the House before the register has been completed.
§ Mr. Rees
I understand that nowadays the register is filled in monthly—[HON. MEMBERS: "Weekly".] If I am to be involved in anything, I write upstairs to tell them what is happening. I do not think that there is a problem in that respect. Indeed, the film on "Newsnight" showed that one hon. Member, it having been revealed that he was receiving money, then filled in the form.
That one issue is not covered by the register. The House will play a part by contracting in a different way. I accept that. It will be similar to local government. There are rules in local government in that respect and there should be rules about the Channel tunnel. It reflects badly on hon. Members if we do not act in time.
§ Mr. Peter Griffiths (Portsmouth, North)
The Select Committee was charged with examining, on behalf of the House, whether it would be possible to protect the reputation of the House and its proceedings by developing the way in which the declaration of relevant financial interests has operated since 1974.
One thing that the Select Committee was not prepared to do and was never asked to do was to pander to idle curiosity or reverse snobbery. Its task was to look specifically at the ways in which the reputation of the House could be protected. Two potential routes could have been followed. One would have been to increase the complexity and severity of the requirements that are placed upon Members of Parliament, but it was not chosen, one reason being that the moment that one starts to pry more closely into the affairs of any Member of Parliament, the question arises as to the extent to which one should look at the interests of hon. Members' families. That raises a new series of questions about how far the House is entitled to pry into hon. Members' private affairs.
I have a nil declaration in the Register of Members' Interests. I take no pride in that, and it is no cause for pleasure. However, it is important that the register is as complete as possible, and it should be enforced. The 249 Committee decided that there were other people in the House in a privileged position to obtain information and access to Members of Parliament, and that those people should have drawn regularly to their attention the responsibilities that go with their privileges. That is why the Select Committee made three major recommendations, which are included in amendment (e).
I profoundly disagreed with my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House when he suggested that now is not the time or the tactical moment to introduce those restrictions. If we do not ensure that all those in a privileged position in the House are treated similarly, it will not give us a proper base from which the Committee can move to see whether there are further loopholes or areas in which it is necessary to tighten up the present restrictions.
Therefore, I trust that hon. Members, having entrusted to the Select Committee the task of making recommendations, will now recognise that the Committee has deliberated carefully and has put forward modest but sensible and positive proposals. Right hon. and hon. Members should consider most seriously whether they should reveal that they have a basic confidence in the Committee, and should support the recommendations in the amendment.
§ Mr. Nellist
It is a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I realise that in a brief debate you have difficulties in calling hon. Members, but when the House selects 12 or 13 hon. Members to form a Select Committee, draw up a report and bring it back to the House, is it in order that six out of the nine Back-Bench Members who were called were members of that Committee and that those who might wish to criticise the report did not get a chance to speak? Why should we send those hon. Members away to the Committee when they are the only ones called to talk about the report when they come back?
§ Mr. Speaker
The Chair seeks to achieve a balance in all such matters. I took into account the fact that the hon. Gentleman rose to intervene on numerous occasions. That was one of the reasons why he was not called tonight.
§ Mr. Biffen
I feel fraternal sympathy towards the hon. Member for Coventry, South-East (Mr. Nellist) as a member of the endangered species. His departure would be much regretted. By making interventions, he demonstrated that there are more effective ways to speak even than making speeches.
My anxiety is that I have but a few moments to answer the debate. I have deliberately restricted myself to so disciplined a time because I felt that the best service that I could pay would be to give rise to the widest possible debate from the Back Benches and for the Front Benches to be suitably disciplined. Therefore, I want to construct my remarks around the four amendments called for possible Division.
The amendment tabled by the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen)—[HON. MEMBERS: "Where is he?"] A warm toast to absent friends. Were he here he might have convinced me otherwise, but in his 250 absence I have to say that he is inviting the House to make its own judgment about the desirability of the registration of the amounts of financial interest without having the benefit of the study, judgment and reflection of the Select Committee. I advise the House to reject that approach and to take a much more measured policy in those matters.
The amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) was spoken to with great skill. It was of necessity complex. One hon. Member below the Gangway referred to it as Byzantine. I would not go that far, but it is a complex argument to deal with a novel situation which is suggesting that a resolution of the House might have the effect of preventing a Member from taking his seat until the register had been signed. This is a complex constitutional issue, touching upon the rights of taking one's seat. After all, the oath is taken under the Parliamentary Oaths Act 1866, so this would be prescribing something which did not have constitutional enactment. Therefore, it is only proper that my hon. Friend the Member for Wealden (Sir G. Johnson Smith) has said that he would be prepared for the Select Committee to consider the matter further. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will withdraw his amendment and we could go forward on that basis.
The right hon. Member for Swansea, West (Mr. Williams) asked about a Member who does not sign the register. The position is set out fairly in the 1974–25 report. It is clear that the House could determine what action it took subsequently, but it is a question of measuring the sanction against that rare quality common sense, and there the matter must and will remain until we resolve otherwise.
I said clearly that I wished to reject the amendment in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Wealden but I am not a Stalinist in my role as Leader of the House and I found that there was not a single friend for it; thus I had that unique minority situation of Ibsen, so we understand from the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown). Therefore, although I said that my opposition was based purely on timing and tactics, I realise that the mood of the House is for the acceptance of the amendment and I am content that that should be the decision, swayed also as I was by the powerful advocacy of the right hon. Member for Barnsley, Central (Mr. Mason). Doubtless, as hundreds of research assistants file a nil return in the coming months, they will reflect that I am following the Mason line.
Amendment (g) in the name of the right hon. Member for Swansea, West seeks to establish two things—the primacy in the use of the Select Committee as our guide in these matters and the need not to rush precipitately into anything until and unless it has been properly and in measured form considered by that Select Committee. Going on from that principle, he has established three areas where he thinks matters need to be reconsidered. It is not that the reconsideration is in any sense novel. I am sure that he will be the first to agree that these issues have been examined by the Select Committee in the past, but after a passage of 10 years or so it is perfectly legitimate that the House should think that the matter might be further considered. In particular, there has been some public comment, and we are properly sensitive to that.
I say "properly sensitive", because we are not here to pry into each other's codes of conduct, although that is obviously a pleasing and enjoyable part of the Tuesday and Thursday knockabout We are all here as collective 251 guardians of the reputation of the House of Commons, of understanding how it works, of knowing that often the most effective methods of control operate by other than mere mechanical or legalistic fashions. Therefore, we want to test what we understand to be outside interest with our own knowledge of our own selves and our own faith in our own procedures. One way in which we can do that is the proper use of the Select Committee. On that basis, I commend the right hon. Gentleman's amendment and my substantive motion.
Amendment (b) proposed, in line 2, leave out from 'Parliament' to end and add'but believes that their recommendations will be meaningless unless Right honourable and honourable Members declare all sources of money received over and above their Parliamentary salaries, including the clients of any Parliamentary consultancies held, and the amounts of money received from each source.'.—[Mr. Alton.]
§ Question put, That the amendment be made:—
§ The House proceeded to a Division—
§ Mr. Adley (seated and covered)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. We have had a serious and earnest debate, and my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House has responded magnificently to the mood of the House. We are now being asked to vote on a proposal by right hon. and hon. Members, not one of whom had the courtesy to address the House and only one of whom has been present for only part of the time. I think that the behaviour of the leaders of the SDP and the Liberal party is an abuse of the House and a gross dereliction of good manners.
§ Mr. Speaker
I selected the amendment, which was properly moved by the hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton).
§ Mr. Michael Stern (Bristol, North-West)
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. With respect, when you selected the amendment you were not to know that the leader of the SDP would show such utter contempt for this House, not only by not bothering to be here to move his amendment, but by not even bothering to appear in the debate at all. Do you have no power to reconsider your selection in order to demonstrate that hon. Members must show more respect both for this House and for your authority?
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Gentleman must know that it is perfectly in order for an hon. Member whose name stands on the Order Paper in support of an amendment to move that amendment.
§ The House having divided: Ayes 63, Noes 213.253
|Division No. 30]||[10.00 pm|
|Ashdown, Paddy||Forman, Nigel|
|Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)||Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald|
|Barron, Kevin||Freud, Clement|
|Beith, A. J.||Hamilton, W. W. (Fife Central)|
|Benn, Rt Hon Tony||Hancock, Mr. Michael|
|Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh)||Hardy, Peter|
|Bruce, Malcolm||Home Robertson, John|
|Caborn, Richard||Howells, Geraint|
|Campbell-Savours, Dale||Hoyle, Douglas|
|Clwyd, Mrs Ann||Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)|
|Cook, Robin F. (Livingston)||Hughes, Simon (Southwark)|
|Corbyn, Jeremy||Johnston, Sir Russell|
|Cox, Thomas (Tooting)||Kennedy, Charles|
|Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly)||Lewis, Terence (Worsley)|
|Dixon, Donald||Livsey, Richard|
|Dubs, Alfred||Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)|
|Eadie, Alex||Madden, Max|
|Eastham, Ken||Maxton, John|
|Evans, John (St. Helens N)||Maynard, Miss Joan|
|Meadowcroft, Michael||Skinner, Dennis|
|Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)||Smith, Rt Hon J. Rt Hon J. (M'kl'ds E)|
|Nellist, David||Spearing, Nigel|
|O'Brien, William||Strang, Gavin|
|O'Neill, Martin||Straw, Jack|
|Parry, Robert||Tinn, James|
|Patchett, Terry||Wainwright, R.|
|Pendry, Tom||Wallace, James|
|Pike, Peter||Wareing, Robert|
|Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)||Wilson, Gordon|
|Roberts, Allan (Bootle)||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Rooker, J. W.||Mr. David Alton and|
|Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)||Mr. John Cartwright.|
|Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)|
|Adley, Robert||Hawksley, Warren|
|Alison, Rt Hon Michael||Hayes, J.|
|Amess, David||Hayhoe, Rt Hon Barney|
|Ancram, Michael||Haynes, Frank|
|Atkins, Robert (South Ribble)||Hayward, Robert|
|Atkinson, David (B'm'th E)||Heathcoat-Amory, David|
|Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y)||Heddle, John|
|Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)||Henderson, Barry|
|Batiste, Spencer||Hickmet, Richard|
|Beaumont-Dark, Anthony||Hicks, Robert|
|Biffen, Rt Hon John||Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Hind, Kenneth|
|Bottomley, Mrs Virginia||Hirst, Michael|
|Brandon-Bravo, Martin||Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)|
|Bright, Graham||Holt, Richard|
|Brittan, Rt Hon Leon||Howard, Michael|
|Brooke, Hon Peter||Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)|
|Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes)||Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N)|
|Budgen, Nick||Hunter, Andrew|
|Butcher, John||Jackson, Robert|
|Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (W'ton S)||Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick|
|Cash, William||Jessel, Toby|
|Chalker, Mrs Lynda||Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey|
|Chope, Christopher||Jones, Robert (Herts W)|
|Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)||Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine|
|Cockeram, Eric||Kershaw, Sir Anthony|
|Cope, John||Knight, Greg (Derby N)|
|Cormack, Patrick||Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)|
|Crouch, David||Knowles, Michael|
|Currie, Mrs Edwina||Lamond, James|
|Durant, Tony||Lawler, Geoffrey|
|Emery, Sir Peter||Lee, John (Pendle)|
|Fenner, Mrs Peggy||Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark|
|Fletcher, Alexander||Lester, Jim|
|Fookes, Miss Janet||Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd)|
|Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)||Lightbown, David|
|Forth, Eric||Lilley, Peter|
|Fowler, Rt Hon Norman||Lloyd, Ian (Havant)|
|Fox, Marcus||Lord, Michael|
|Fraser, Peter (Angus East)||Luce, Richard|
|Freeman, Roger||Lyell, Nicholas|
|Gale, Roger||McCrindle, Robert|
|Galley, Roy||MacGregor, Rt Hon John|
|Gardiner, George (Reigate)||MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)|
|Garel-Jones, Tristan||MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)|
|Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian||Maclean, David John|
|Goodlad, Alastair||McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury)|
|Gorst, John||McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st)|
|Gow, Ian||McQuarrie, Albert|
|Gower, Sir Raymond||Madel, David|
|Gregory, Conal||Major, John|
|Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)||Malone, Gerald|
|Grist, Ian||Marlow, Antony|
|Ground, Patrick||Mates, Michael|
|Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)||Mather, Carol|
|Hamilton, James (M'well N)||Maude, Hon Francis|
|Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)||Mayhew, Sir Patrick|
|Hampson, Dr Keith||Mellor, David|
|Hanley, Jeremy||Merchant, Piers|
|Harris, David||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Harvey, Robert||Miller, Hal (B'grove)|
|Haselhurst, Alan||Mills, Iain (Meriden)|
|Hawkins, Sir Paul (N'folk SW)||Miscampbell, Norman|
|Mitchell, David (Hants NW)||Steen, Anthony|
|Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)||Stern, Michael|
|Moynihan, Hon C.||Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)|
|Neale, Gerrard||Stevens, Martin (Fulham)|
|Neubert, Michael||Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)|
|Newton, Tony||Stradling Thomas, Sir John|
|Nicholls, Patrick||Sumberg, David|
|Normanton, Tom||Tapsell, Sir Peter|
|Norris, Steven||Taylor, John (Solihull)|
|Onslow, Cranley||Terlezki, Stefan|
|Osborn, Sir John||Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)|
|Page, Sir John (Harrow W)||Thompson, Donald (Calder V)|
|Page, Richard (Herts SW)||Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)|
|Patten, Christopher (Bath)||Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)|
|Patten, J. (Oxf W & Abdgn)||Thornton, Malcolm|
|Pattie, Geoffrey||Thurnham, Peter|
|Pollock, Alexander||Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)|
|Porter, Barry||Tracey, Richard|
|Powell, William (Corby)||Trippier, David|
|Powley, John||Twinn, Dr Ian|
|Prentice, Rt Hon Reg||Viggers, Peter|
|Proctor, K. Harvey||Waddington, David|
|Raffan, Keith||Wakeham, Rt Hon John|
|Rhodes James, Robert||Waldegrave, Hon William|
|Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon||Walden, George|
|Rifkind, Malcolm||Walker, Bill (T'side N)|
|Robinson, Mark (N'port W)||Ward, John|
|Roe, Mrs Marion||Wardle, C. (Bexhill)|
|Rumbold, Mrs Angela||Warren, Kenneth|
|Sackville, Hon Thomas||Watson, John|
|Sayeed, Jonathan||Watts, John|
|Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)||Wells, Bowen (Hertford)|
|Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')||Wheeler, John|
|Shelton, William (Streatham)||Whitfield, John|
|Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)||Whitney, Raymond|
|Shersby, Michael||Wilkinson, John|
|Silvester, Fred||Winterton, Mrs Ann|
|Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Soames, Hon Nicholas||Wolfson, Mark|
|Speed, Keith||Wood, Timothy|
|Spencer, Derek||Yeo, Tim|
|Spicer, Jim (Dorset W)|
|Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Squire, Robin||Mr. Ian Lang and|
|Stanbrook, Ivor||Mr. Tim Sainsbury.|
§ Question accordingly negatived.
It being after Ten o'clock, MR. SPEAKER proceeded, pursuant to the order this day, to put the Questions necessary to dispose of the motion relating to Register of Members' Interests.
Amendment (d) proposed, in line 2, after 'Parliament', insert
'orders that in future no Member after his election shall take his seat unless he has first made a declaration to the Registrar;'.—[Mr. Campbell-Savours.]
§ Question put, That the amendment be made:
§ The House divided: Ayes 128, Noes 174.255
|Division No. 31]||[10.13 pm|
|Alton, David||Cook, Robin F. (Livingston)|
|Ashdown, Paddy||Corbyn, Jeremy|
|Ashley, Rt Hon Jack||Cormack, Patrick|
|Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)||Cox, Thomas (Tooting)|
|Barron, Kevin||Cunliffe, Lawrence|
|Beaumont-Dark, Anthony||Dalyell, Tam|
|Beith, A. J.||Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly)|
|Benn, Rt Hon Tony||Dixon, Donald|
|Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh)||Dobson, Frank|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Dormand, Jack|
|Bruce, Malcolm||Dubs, Alfred|
|Caborn, Richard||Duffy, A. E. P.|
|Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)||Eadie, Alex|
|Campbell-Savours, Dale||Eastham, Ken|
|Cartwright, John||Evans, John (St. Helens N)|
|Clark, Dr David (S Shields)||Flannery, Martin|
|Forman, Nigel||Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)|
|Forth, Eric||Nellist, David|
|Foster, Derek||O'Brien, William|
|Foulkes, George||Parry, Robert|
|Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald||Patchett, Terry|
|Freud, Clement||Pendry, Tom|
|Gale, Roger||Pike, Peter|
|George, Bruce||Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)|
|Godman, Dr Norman||Prescott, John|
|Golding, John||Raffan, Keith|
|Hamilton, James (M'well N)||Randall, Stuart|
|Hamilton, W. W. (Fife Central)||Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)|
|Hancock, Mr. Michael||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon|
|Hardy, Peter||Roberts, Allan (Bootle)|
|Harris, David||Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)|
|Haselhurst, Alan||Robertson, George|
|Hayes, J.||Rooker, J. W.|
|Haynes, Frank||Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)|
|Hicks, Robert||Sheldon, Rt Hon R.|
|Hind, Kenneth||Shersby, Michael|
|Hirst, Michael||Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)|
|Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)||Skinner, Dennis|
|Home Robertson, John||Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)|
|Howells, Geraint||Snape, Peter|
|Hoyle, Douglas||Speed, Keith|
|Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)||Spencer, Derek|
|Hughes, Simon (Southwark)||Squire, Robin|
|John, Brynmor||Stern, Michael|
|Johnston, Sir Russell||Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)|
|Jones, Robert (Herts W)||Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)|
|Kennedy, Charles||Stott, Roger|
|Knowles, Michael||Strang, Gavin|
|Lawler, Geoffrey||Straw, Jack|
|Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd)||Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)|
|Lewis, Terence (Worsley)||Tinn, James|
|Livsey, Richard||Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)|
|Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)||van Straubenzee, Sir W.|
|Lofthouse, Geoffrey||Wainwright, R.|
|McDonald, Dr Oonagh||Wallace, James|
|McGuire, Michael||Wardell, Gareth (Gower)|
|McKay, Allen (Penistone)||Wareing, Robert|
|MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)||Watts, John|
|McWilliam, John||Williams, Rt Hon A.|
|Madden, Max||Wilson, Gordon|
|Mason, Rt Hon Roy||Winterton, Mrs Ann|
|Maxton, John||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Maynard, Miss Joan||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Meadowcroft, Michael||Mr. Nigel Spearing and|
|Meyer, Sir Anthony||Mrs. Ann Clwyd.|
|Adley, Robert||Durant, Tony|
|Alison, Rt Hon Michael||Emery, Sir Peter|
|Amess, David||Fenner, Mrs Peggy|
|Ancram, Michael||Fookes, Miss Janet|
|Atkins, Robert (South Ribble)||Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)|
|Atkinson, David (B'm'th E)||Fowler, Rt Hon Norman|
|Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y)||Fox, Marcus|
|Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)||Fraser, Peter (Angus East)|
|Batiste, Spencer||Freeman, Roger|
|Biffen, Rt Hon John||Gardiner, George (Reigate)|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Garel-Jones, Tristan|
|Bottomley, Mrs Virginia||Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian|
|Brandon-Bravo, Martin||Goodlad, Alastair|
|Bright, Graham||Gorst, John|
|Brittan, Rt Hon Leon||Gow, Ian|
|Brooke, Hon Peter||Gower, Sir Raymond|
|Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes)||Gregory, Conal|
|Budgen, Nick||Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)|
|Butcher, John||Grist, Ian|
|Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (W'ton S)||Ground, Patrick|
|Cash, William||Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)|
|Chalker, Mrs Lynda||Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)|
|Chope, Christopher||Hampson, Dr Keith|
|Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)||Hanley, Jeremy|
|Cockeram, Eric||Harvey, Robert|
|Cope, John||Hawkins, C. (High Peak)|
|Crouch, David||Hawkins, Sir Paul (N'folk SW)|
|Currie, Mrs Edwina||Hawksley, Warren|
|Hayhoe, Rt Hon Barney||Patten, J. (Oxf W & Abdgn)|
|Hay ward, Robert||Pollock, Alexander|
|Heathcoat-Amory, David||Powley, John|
|Henderson, Barry||Prentice, Rt Hon Reg|
|Hickmet, Richard||Proctor, K. Harvey|
|Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)||Rhodes James, Robert|
|Holt, Richard||Rifkind, Malcolm|
|Howard, Michael||Robinson, Mark (N'port W)|
|Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)||Roe, Mrs Marion|
|Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N)||Rumbold, Mrs Angela|
|Hunter, Andrew||Sackville, Hon Thomas|
|Jackson, Robert||Sainsbury, Hon Timothy|
|Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick||Sayeed, Jonathan|
|Jessel, Toby||Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)|
|Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey||Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')|
|Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine||Shelton, William (Streatham)|
|Kershaw, Sir Anthony||Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)|
|Knight, Greg (Derby N)||Silvester, Fred|
|Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)||Soames, Hon Nicholas|
|Lamond, James||Spicer, Jim (Dorset W)|
|Lang, Ian||Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)|
|Lee, John (Pendle)||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark||Stanley, John|
|Lester, Jim||Steen, Anthony|
|Lightbown, David||Stevens, Martin (Fulham)|
|Lilley, Peter||Stradling Thomas, Sir John|
|Lloyd, Ian (Havant)||Sumberg, David|
|Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham)||Tapsell, Sir Peter|
|Lord, Michael||Taylor, John (Solihull)|
|Luce, Richard||Terlezki, Stefan|
|Lyell, Nicholas||Thompson, Donald (Calder V)|
|McCrindle, Robert||Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)|
|MacGregor, Rt Hon John||Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)|
|MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)||Thornton, Malcolm|
|Maclean, David John||Thurnham, Peter|
|McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury)||Tracey, Richard|
|McQuarrie, Albert||Trippier, David|
|Madel, David||Twinn, Dr Ian|
|Major, John||Viggers, Peter|
|Malone, Gerald||Waddington, David|
|Mates, Michael||Wakeham, Rt Hon John|
|Mather, Carol||Waldegrave, Hon William|
|Mayhew, Sir Patrick||Walden, George|
|Mellor, David||Walker, Bill (T'side N)|
|Merchant, Piers||Waller, Gary|
|Miller, Hal (B'grove)||Ward, John|
|Mills, Iain (Meriden)||Wardle, C. (Bexhill)|
|Miscampbell, Norman||Warren, Kenneth|
|Mitchell, David (Hants NW)||Watson, John|
|Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)||Wells, Bowen (Hertford)|
|Moynihan, Hon C.||Wheeler, John|
|Neale, Gerrard||Whitfield, John|
|Newton, Tony||Whitney, Raymond|
|Nicholls, Patrick||Wilkinson, John|
|Normanton, Tom||Wolfson, Mark|
|Norris, Steven||Wood, Timothy|
|Onslow, Cranley||Yeo, Tim|
|Osborn, Sir John|
|Page, Sir John (Harrow W)||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Page, Richard (Herts SW)||Mr. Michael Neubert and|
|Patten, Christopher (Bath)||Mr. Francis Maude.|
§ Question accordingly negatived.
§ Mr. Campbell-Savours
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. We have spent the past two hours debating honour and worth, and during the course of the debate, by a sedentary intervention and from the Dispatch Box, my right hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, West (Mr. Williams) asked the Leader of the House whether there would be a free vote tonight. We were told by two Whips that there was to be a free vote. Tonight, the payroll voted against my amendment. That was not a free vote.
§ Mr. Speaker
I have no knowledge of such things.
Before calling the hon. Member for Wealden (Sir G. Johnson Smith) to move amendment (e), I draw the 256 attention of the House to the fact that the word "relevant" has been inadvertently omitted before the word "gainful" in paragraphs 2 and 3. I am permitting the amendment to be moved in the corrected form.
Amendment (e) made, at end add'and further agrees with its recommendations in the interests of greater openness, namely that:Amendment (g) made, at end add
and that copies of these Registers be placed in the Library for the use of Members'.—[Sir G. Johnson Smith.]
- 1. those holding permanent passes as lobby journalists, as journalists accredited to the Parliamentary Press Gallery or for parliamentary broadcasting be required to register not only the employment for which they had received their pass, but also any other paid occupation or employment where their privileged access to Parliament is relevant;
- 2. holders of permanent passes as Members' secretaries or Members' research assistants be required to register any relevant gainful occupation which they may pursue other than that for which the pass is issued, and
- 3. Commons officers of All Party and Registered Groups be required to register the names of the officers of the Group, the source and extent of any benefits financial or in kind from outside sources which they may enjoy, together with any other relevant gainful occupation of any staff which they may have. Where a public relations agency provides the assistance, the ultimate client should be named;and asks that the Committee considers further measures to strengthen disclosure provisions including the possibility of identifying interests in Parliamentary Questions, whether the amount of remuneration should be declared as well as the interest, and whether there is the need to consider constraints on voting.".—[Mr. Alan Williams.]Main Question, as amended, put and agreed to.
Resolved,That this House takes note of the Report of the Select Committee on Members' Interests in the last Session of Parliament; welcomes the intention of the Committee stated in paragraphs 7 and 9 of the Report to keep under review both Parliamentary lobbying and the appropriate scope of the declaration and registration required of Members who are so engaged; emphasises that it is the personal responsibility of each Member to have regard to his public position and the good name of Parliament in any work he undertakes or any interests he acquires; confirms that the scope of the requirement to register remunerated trades, professions or vocations includes any remunerated activity in the fields of public relations and political and parliamentary advice and consultancy; and in particular agrees with the Select Committee in its statement in paragraph 10 of its Report in regard to the registration and declaring of clients that the services which require such registration and, where appropriate, declaration: "include as well as any action connected with any proceedings in the House or its Committees, the sponsoring of functions in the Palace, making representations to Ministers, Civil Servants and other Members, accompanying delegations to Ministers and the like"; and further agrees with its recommendations in the interests of greater openness, namely that:It being after Ten o'clock, MR. SPEAKER proceeded to put forthwith the deferred Question necessary to dispose of the proceedings on Supplementary Estimates, 1985–86 (Class II, Vote 7).
and that copies of these Registers be placed in the Library for the use of Members; and asks that the Committee considers further measures to strengthen disclosure provisions including the possibility of identifying interests in Parliamentary Questions, whether the amount of remuneration should be declared as well as the interest, and whether there is a need to consider constraints on voting.
- 1. those holding permanent passes as lobby journalists, as journalists accredited to the Parliamentary Press Gallery or for parliamentary broadcasting be required to register not only the employment for which they had received their pass, but also any other paid occupation or employment where their privileged access to Parliament is relevant;
- 2. holders of permanent passes as Members' secretaries or Members' research assistants be required to register any relevant gainful occupation which they may pursue other than that for which the pass is issued; and
- 3. Commons officers of All Party and Registered Groups be required to register the names of the officers of the Group, the source and extent of any benefits financial or in kind from outside sources which they may enjoy, together with any other relevant gainful occupation of any staff which they may have. Where a public relations agency provides the assistance, the ultimate
257 client should be named;