HC Deb 14 May 2002 vol 385 cc731-51

Motion made, and Question proposed,


(1) this House approves the Ninth Report from the Committee on Standards and Privileges, (House of Commons Paper No. 763), A new Code of Conduct and Guide to the Rules;

(2) the Resolution of the House of 6th November 1995 relating to Conduct of Members shall be amended, at the end, by adding the words 'or any approach, whether oral or in writing, to Ministers or servants of the Crown';

(3) the Resolution of the House of 6th November 1995 relating to Employment Agreements shall be redesignated 'Agreements for the Provision of Services;' and shall be amended, as follows:

  1. (a) by leaving out the words 'up to £1,000, £1,000-£5,000, £5,000-£10,000' in each of paragraphs (1), (2) and (3) and inserting the words 'up to £5,000, £5,001-£10,000';
  2. (b) after the word 'inspection' in each of paragraphs (1), (2) and (3), by inserting the words 'and reproduction';
  3. (c) at the end, by adding the words—
'Provided that the requirement to deposit a copy of an agreement with the Commissioner shall not apply—
  1. (a) if the fees or benefits payable do not exceed one per cent. of the current parliamentary salary; nor
  2. (b) in the case of media work (but in that case the Member shall deposit a statement of the fees or benefits payable in the bands specified above)';

(4) the Code of Conduct and the Guide to the Rules relating to the Conduct of Members (House of Commons Paper No. 688 (1995–96)) shall be amended as proposed in Annex 2 to the Report; and

(5) the registration forms submitted for the next published Register of Members' interests shall comply with the new rules on the registration of Members' interests; and any requirement under the new rules to register an interest which is not registrable now shall come into force on the publication of the next Register.—[Mrs. McGuire.]

8.51 pm
Sir George Young (North-West Hampshire)

I invite the House to endorse the new code of conduct and guide to the rules on the conduct of Members that the Standards and Privileges Committee has drawn up. I am grateful to the Leader of the House for finding time to resolve this matter so soon after the publication of our report.

The last time that I spoke as Chairman of the Standards and Privileges Committee was the debate in February when we appointed Philip Mawer as the new Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. Mr. Mawer has now taken up his appointment, made an excellent start and is fully in command of his role. He is working the full three days a week for which he was appointed, and if his duties require him to do more, more will be done. He has already dealt with several complaints and the Committee entirely endorsed the conclusions that he reached in the one case that he brought to us. However, I do not want to place too much emphasis on investigations. I hope that Mr. Mawer will continue to develop a new strategy that gives priority to advice and prevention, of which clear guidance is a key component; that is where the revised code of conduct and guide to the rules come in.

The changes that we have proposed are intended to simplify and clarify the guidance that is provided for Members; to alleviate unnecessary burdens without compromising the transparency and effectiveness of the system; and, where practicable, to align the House's rules more closely with those of the Electoral Commission. The new code and guide have gone through a lengthy gestation period. The former Committee began the work of revision more than two years ago, and it introduced many of the detailed changes shortly before the last election, but the two most radical changes are the work of the new Committee and are recommended in this report.

The first change relates to the advocacy rule, which bans Members from paid lobbying. As the rule stands, a Member may not initiate a parliamentary proceeding—for example, by tabling a question or applying for an Adjournment debate—that relates specifically and directly to the affairs of a body, or of a wider group, in which the Member has a pecuniary interest. The rule was introduced with the best of intentions, but in practice it has imposed unreasonable and unnecessary restrictions on Members' parliamentary activities.

When the new Committee was established at the beginning of this Parliament, we became aware of a degree of feeling, both inside and outside the House, about the rule's restrictive effects. Shortly before Christmas, we published a consultation paper seeking views on two possible options for relaxing the rule. We decided to adopt the recommendation from the Committee on Standards in Public Life to the effect that the rules on initiation should be relaxed and brought into line with the more lenient rules on participation in a proceeding initiated by another Member. If the House agrees to this change, from now on the only restriction on Members' freedom of action will be that they must not seek to confer benefit exclusively on a body in which they have a pecuniary interest. That interest must, of course, be properly registered and declared.

I believe that the change will be welcomed especially in the context of travel overseas. Hon. Members have a duty to keep themselves informed about what is going on in the wider world. Often the only way to do that is when foreign Governments or other organisations outside the House pay for the travel. From now on, hon. Members who travel abroad at someone else's expense will be able to make full use in the House of what they have learned. They will not face difficulties in tabling questions or introducing Adjournment debates that are relevant to their visit. That will help them and, I believe, the House.

Our second fundamental reform is that there should be a realistic de minimis threshold for the registration of interests. We do not want the Register of Members' Interests to be cluttered with low-value entries; nor do we want the complaints process to be brought into disrepute by allegations of failure to register relatively insignificant interests.

The solution that we propose is to take such items out of the scope of registration altogether by setting a threshold of 1 per cent. of the parliamentary salary. At present, that amounts to about £550. Below that threshold, interests would not have to be registered. That means that hon. Members need no longer register gifts or hospitality that are worth less than £550. However, benefits from a single source that individually are worth less than £550 should be registered if, cumulatively, they amount to more than 1 per cent. of salary in a calendar year.

The change in the rule also means that earned income, including directorships, needs to be registered only if it exceeds 1 per cent. of salary. The requirement to deposit an agreement with the commissioner if an hon. Member is providing parliamentary services of any kind will also be dropped if the remuneration does not exceed 1 per cent. of salary.

Finally, I shall refer briefly to some of the detailed changes to the rules that we are proposing. Hon. Members will see that these are highlighted in red type in the proposed new guide and code that is printed as an annexe to the report.

The rules relating to sponsorship have been revised substantially and now cover donations to constituency associations that are linked to an hon. Member's candidacy or membership of the House, as well as other support that an hon. Member receives in his capacity as a Member of the House, with a threshold of £1,000. That takes account of the changed nature of trade union sponsorship, and of the reporting requirements of the Electoral Commission.

In common with other one-off benefits, such as gifts and hospitality, donations to constituency associations will be removed from the Register of Members' Interests after a year. Such donations will be registerable only if they are expressly tied to the hon. Member by name—an example might be contributions to an hon. Member's fighting fund—or are donations that have been solicited for the party by the hon. Member. Donations to constituency associations that are not linked to the hon. Member but which are an expression of general political support will not have to be registered.

We have clarified the circumstances in which land and property, including houses, that is rented out may need to be registered. There are new rules on the registration of shareholdings. A shareholding wil be registerable in future if it amounts to more than 15 per cent. of the company's share capital, rather then 1 per cent. A shareholding of 15 per cent. or less will be registerable if it is worth more than an hon. Member's parliamentary salary.

Until now, the threshold for registration has been a nominal value of £25,000, but the nominal value often bears no relation to the real value. The Committee believes that it is not unreasonable to require hon. Members to revalue their large shareholdings once each year for the purposes of the register. After all, an hon. Member is likely to have few holdings that are registerable, and the end of the tax year is a convenient time to check what they are worth.

The rules covering political journalism, speaking engagements and other forms of media work connected to membership of the House have been greatly simplified. The requirement to deposit an employment agreement, which in many cases simply did not fit the relationship between the hon. Member and the outside body, has been dropped altogether. However, hon. Members will still have to declare in the register their income from this source, in the appropriate band.

The new Committee is working alongside Philip Mawer, the new commissioner, with this new strategy, a new code of conduct and a new register. I appreciate that it is less than a year since hon. Members had to fill in their registration forms at the start of this Parliament, but if we are going to have a new register it will be in everyone's interest to have one that reflects the new rules as soon as possible.

Shortly after the forthcoming recess, the commissioner will write to every hon. Member. He will send a copy of the new code and guide, a registration form and details of the seminars arranged to explain the new rules to hon. Members. There will also be guidance about how to complete the registration form. Hon. Members will be asked to return their forms before the summer recess, so that the new register can be published in the autumn.

The registration form should be completed in accordance with the new rules, so hon. Members will be able to delete from their current entries the minor benefits that fall below the 1 per cent. threshold. However, I hope that the House will look especially carefully at the new rules on sponsorships and shareholdings, which have been changed, and also on land and property, on which the guidance has been clarified.

If the House agrees to the motion, the new code and guide will come into force and the relaxation of the advocacy rule and the higher thresholds for the registration of benefits will apply immediately. However, any requirement under the new rules to register an interest that is not registrable under the current rules—for example, with some shareholdings—will not come into force until the new register is published, so all Members will have a reasonable period in which to ensure that their entries comply with the new rules.

I strongly encourage any Member who may be in any doubt about how the new rules will apply to him or her to seek the advice of either the Standards Commissioner or the Registrar of Members' Interests, who will be glad to help.

I believe that the changes that we have recommended will give the House clearer, simpler rules that are, in some respects, less onerous for Members to comply with, but still rigorous and consistent with the fundamental principles that the House adopted when it implemented the Nolan reforms in 1995–96. We have, of course, asked the Wicks committee for its comments on what is proposed.

My committee will keep all these changes actively under review. I ask the House to support the changes.

9.1 pm

The Parliamentary Secretary, Privy Council Office (Mr. Stephen Twigg)

I am sure that the whole House will join me in welcoming the report from the Committee on Standards and Privileges and thanking the Committee and all its members for their work.

Last year, the House agreed with the Committee on Standards in Public Life that a senior Opposition Member should be Chair of the Committee on Standards and Privileges. The impartiality of that Committee is clearly very important, and I am pleased that it is so clearly demonstrated in this report. I cannot imagine a person better fitted for the post than the right hon. Member for North-West Hampshire (Sir George Young).

The report and the consultation papers on which it is based speak for themselves. We need to ensure that we uphold the highest standards and that our work is not hampered by rules that inadvertently prohibit legitimate parliamentary activity. We should not forget that the purpose of having a code in the first place is to make sure that our standards are high; it is not a substitute for, or a shelter from, the criminal law. It is important that Members have the freedoms needed to operate effectively. The main freedom that we have is the freedom of speech necessary to enable us to pursue matters in the House or through its Committees. In the United Kingdom, our immunity extends only as far as formal proceedings in Parliament. The Committee on Standards and Privileges has made it clear that it expects the commissioner to refer any cases where it appears that a Member may have broken the law to the police. It has added that if the commissioner failed to call in the police, it would do so. I am sure that we all welcome that. If we always remembered that, and took pains to make it clear, it might ensure that some of the wider public debate on standards kept a proper sense of perspective.

As the right hon. Gentleman said, the most important change proposed today is the reform of the advocacy rule. This is not a thoughtless change aimed at making life easier for MPs. Our current rules have been widely criticised, not only in the House but by knowledgeable outsiders, for being overly stringent. It has become apparent that although the broad thrust of the rule is correct, and it is right to have a blanket prohibition on what the Committee graphically describes as lobbying for consideration or reward its very breadth has caused some problems. That was well illustrated by the controversy surrounding the appointment of the hon. Member for Cotswold (Mr. Clifton-Brown) to the Opposition Front Bench, but it has also been picked up by the non-parliamentary Committee on Standards in Public Life when reviewing its earlier work.

The advocacy rule is an important safeguard, but as the Neill committee, as it then was, noted, when it operates too stringently it can prevent Members from dealing with precisely the subjects about which we are most knowledgeable. The proposed new rules should ensure that lobbying for reward or consideration remains completely banned, yet allow Members to deal with matters of genuine and general interest.

The introduction of a system for rectifying minor or inadvertent failures to register is also welcome, as is the Committee's willingness to censure those who come forward with frivolous or partisan complaints.

I also welcome the right hon. Gentleman's remarks to the Wicks committee last week, when he said that he and his Committee wished to do more on education, prevention and advice-giving. I am sure that that will help us all.

We must, as a House, try to uphold the highest standards. We must deal severely with those who knowingly fail to do so, but we must also accept that none of us is infallible and ensure that the system operates in a way that punishes the seriously guilty while helping the merely misguided to do better next time. I am convinced that these proposals will assist us in that, and I commend them to the House.

9.5 pm

Mr. Eric Forth (Bromley and Chislehurst)

I very much agree with the Minister's remarks, both in their content and context. I welcome the report produced by my right hon. Friend the Member for North-West Hampshire (Sir George Young) and his Committee. Let the House not underestimate the difficulty of the work of the Committee on Standards and Privileges. The Committee strives to strike a tricky balance between the desire of many to see the application of the strictest possible standards to the House and those who want standards that are sensible, workable and, indeed, comprehensible to Members themselves.

The code of conduct—vital and central as it is—should never be seen as set in stone, as some permanent oracle; it must be flexible and something to which we can return from time to time, and the Committee is right to have done so. In the previous Parliament, the Committee struggled with both the advocacy rule and the limits on gifts and hospitality and found it difficult to reach a conclusion. I very much welcome the fact that the new Committee, under my right hon. Friend, has managed to pick its way through the thicket and emerge with sensible, practical and balanced proposals on those matters.

I always thought that it was—and still is—ridiculous to suggest that Members of Parliament can be suborned or bribed by trivial gifts and hospitality. The suggested new limits are a move in the right direction and refute that suggestion.

I simply want to acknowledge the work of the Committee and to recommend to my colleagues and to the House that we adopt the proposals, but that we continue to monitor them closely to ensure that they reassure the public and us that we are adhering to proper standards and that we shall continue to do so.

9.6 pm

Andrew Mackinlay (Thurrock)

I am not entirely comfortable with the proposals—I have some reservations.

I fully accept that the overwhelming majority of hon. Members—if not all of us—would not consciously be influenced by the chance of a free trip from a particular Government or interest group. However, human nature being what it is, it is much more difficult—despite one's intentions—not to be influenced by the warmth, hospitality and kindness that is offered when one goes abroad at the invitation of a Government. That is manifestly true and can occur almost unconsciously.

We are going about the problem in the wrong way, however. Parliament should not say—as it is saying—that we cannot get full travel budgets for Members of Parliament from the public purse—

Mr. Forth


Andrew Mackinlay

If the right hon. Gentleman can contain himself, I shall finish my point.

Our travel budget is not comparable to that of similar legislatures in other countries, where the facility is at the discretion of the Member and he or she can travel unhindered—independent of a host Government. Our system is deficient in that respect.

When the right hon. Gentleman intervened, perhaps the fact had crossed his mind that recently we agreed a provision that allowed MPs to visit European Union states, or EU applicant states, up to three times a year, provided that they touched base with the Parliament of that state. The provision is confined to those countries.

Mr. Forth

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Andrew Mackinlay

I promise that I shall give way when I have completed this point. That provision offers an adequate travel budget for Members who want to learn more about the EU or its applicant states, but it does not allow us to visit Israel, Palestine, the People's Republic of China, the Koreas or the United States of America; it applies only to EU countries or EU applicants. We should have allowed an extension of that provision, with stringent ground rules, so that any hon. Member could make such visits—perhaps up to three times a year. If we had, we would not need to relax the advocacy rule. We could visit any country in the world at the invitation of a Government or interest group without breaching the advocacy rule.

Mr. Forth

The hon. Gentleman may be surprised to learn that I rather agree with him. However, why did he not table an amendment to the motion that was on the Order Paper the other day to make this point and to allow the House to vote on it? Why did he allow that restrictive measure that he is criticising, on grounds with which I rather agree, to pass through the House unamended and without even a vote?

Andrew Mackinlay

I beat my breast three times—mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. One often wishes that one had amended a motion. However, I regret that personal circumstances have meant that I have not been around as much as I would have wanted in the past couple of weeks. I accept the right hon. Gentleman's admonishment and that is why I said in carefully crafted terms that I wished to express my reservations about this motion.

I do not suppose that this will be the end of the tale. I hope and imagine that we will revisit the issue. The compelling case for not restricting hon. Members to visiting European Union or accession countries just three times a year should be reconsidered. If we do that, I hope that we will also reconsider the relaxation of the advocacy rule. In my view, it is not the right way to go about the problem.

I also wish to make another confession. In the past, I was one of those who often included things in the register that now appear in the category of frivolous. I did not register those things in a frivolous way, but as an open declaration. For example, I put down the fact that I was the honorary patron of Tilbury Town football club, but my local newspaper, the Evening Echo, described me as a director of the club. As much as I love the club, it is not the most sexy place in the world or the most wonderful football club. It is wonderful to me, but its immediate prospects of reaching the premiership are not enormous. I made a declaration, but it was trivialised.

I raise that point because I listened to the Chairman of the Standards and Privileges Committee and it struck me that we should all be very sensible and not register such things in future. The previous form invited us to declare non-pecuniary interests, and we declared them for a variety of reasons. For example, we could show our pride in our association with a particular organisation or to show our breadth of interests. However, the guidance and instructions that we are about to receive should make it clear that we are registering our pecuniary interests and not the wider interests that can often be malevolently twisted or inadvertently confused for pecuniary interests.

I hope that the Chairman of the Committee will take that point on board. What was an invitation hitherto to make a wide declaration of one's enthusiasm and support for various organisations should now go. Perhaps there should be a separate document to show the scope of one's enthusiasms for organisations. We should not muddy the waters by making such declarations in the register of pecuniary interests.

9.13 pm
Mr. Paul Tyler (North Cornwall)

I do not intend to follow the argument of the hon. Member for Thurrock (Andrew Mackinlay) in great detail, but I have some sympathy for the points that he has just made. When I was the Liberal Democrat spokesman on food, I received a large Wensleydale cheese. As that was not a major event attracting much publicity, I thought that the best way to advertise the fact that the home of Wallace and Gromit was alive and well and producing excellent cheese was to declare the fact in the Register of Members' Interests. Unfortunately, the gift was not considered a sufficient financial inducement, so I was prevented from declaring it—but the hon. Gentleman is right. We must take the register seriously. If we allow it to be used in a frivolous way, we will debase the whole exercise.

The point that I wanted to make was about timing. The report is workmanlike, and I give full credit to the right hon. Member for North-West Hampshire (Sir George Young) and his Committee. It is always difficult to know the right moment to produce a review. However, I suggest that this is an odd moment to produce one, because the right hon. Gentleman himself, the Leader of the House, the Conservative Front-Bench spokesman, the Father of the House, my hon. Friend the Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Heath) and the hon. Member for Worthing, West (Peter Bottomley) all gave evidence—either last week or at the beginning of this week—to the Wicks committee. It is considering the whole strategy of how we regulate ourselves—or, indeed, whether we should regulate ourselves at all. This is an odd moment to introduce the proposals not just for debate but for decision, given that those discussions will continue for several weeks, and possibly for months.

I accept that timing is a problem. Clearly, there was a need to make our rules compatible with those of the Electoral Commission. That probably could not wait. I hope that the right hon. Member for North-West Hampshire will respond briefly to the debate and will tell us whether there really is an imperative.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

I listened carefully to the impressive evidence that the hon. Gentleman gave to the Wicks committee last Wednesday. I was there throughout the day and I got the impression from its members' line of questioning that they had already made up their minds against self-regulation. Was that his impression?

Mr. Tyler

The Father of the House has an advantage over me: he sat there right through the whole day—in fact, two days. I did not, but all those to whom I have spoken who gave evidence certainly seem to have gained that impression. I hope that it is not right, and that the committee is reaching its view unprejudiced by any presumption of whether it would be right to change the basis on which we in the House regulate our conduct. However, if that impression is true, it is even more peculiar that we should be taking steps today to review the rules, however peripheral they may be. In fact, the rules are not peripheral. I give credit to the Standards and Privileges Committee and its Chairman, because tidying up the question of advocacy is central to that Committee's role and to the way in which we operate in the House. Reference has already been made to the fact that real experience and expertise were being effectively excluded from the workings of the House by the way in which the advocacy rule was interpreted. That is critical to the work of the House.

If we are preventing people from bringing their knowledge and experience to the work of Parliament, that is a serious issue. It is not peripheral, nor is it peripheral to deal with such provisions, which the Chairman of the Committee properly describes as being de minimis. De minimis, by its very nature, is a relative term. If we are to have a de minimis provision, I hope that it will remove some of the overload on the register and the investigative system. That is extremely important.

My concern is simply about timing. I wonder whether this is the right moment even to clarify, let alone to relax, the remit of the Standards and Privileges Committee and the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, as we are being reviewed by the Wicks committee.

Mr. Tom Levitt (High Peak)

As a member of the Standards and Privileges Committee, I accept the hon. Gentleman's point about timing. In a sense, there is never a right time. Ideally, it would have been good for the new Parliament to have started a year ago with a new set of rules. The proposals have been made partly because a body of evidence and experience has built up and led us to believe that the time is right, and partly because it is probably not a bad idea to coincide with the beginning of the new commissioner's term. So all sorts of features are involved. In addition, Wicks is not concentrating on the issues before us tonight; he is considering the structures rather than the content of the rules, certainly at present.

Mr. Tyler

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that very helpful intervention, but I think that he would agree that the structure and the tactics—the details of which we are concerned with this evening—interrelate at the very least.

The right hon. Member for North-West Hampshire said in his introduction that such matters would be kept under review. He also said that he had made a submission to the Committee on Standards in Public Life—the Wicks committee. I must accept that that is probably our best way forward at this stage. It would be rather absurd to leave things hanging in the air for several months until the completion of the Wicks committee's review.

I hope that we are making it clear this evening—perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would make it clear himself—that the proposals are provisional and transitional and that Parliament still has to face the big issues. Incidentally, it is important not just to have compatibility with the Electoral Commission; I hope that we will have compatibility with the House of Lords, too, in due course. However the other place is reformed in future, it would be ridiculous if one set of rules applied here and quite another applied at the other end of the building. Again, the right hon. Gentleman may like to address that point.

Given assurances, which I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be prepared to give, that the proposals for review, and—it must be said—for relaxation, are being made only for the time being, and that he and his Committee will be prepared to enter into a dialogue with the House as well as with the Wicks committee in due course, I am prepared to accept them. Without those assurances, however, I would be bound to say that I find the timing most inappropriate.

9.20 pm
David Winnick (Walsall, North)

If I register a slight note of dissent it is because I would not wish it to be felt that all of us necessarily agree with the recommendations of the Standards and Privileges Committee. I shall not, like my hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock (Andrew Mackinlay), try to force a vote. No purpose would be served by that. The matter is not of such substance that a vote would be justified. I am somewhat uneasy, however, so it is only right and proper that, as a Member of the House, I should say so.

My hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) said in his intervention that the Committee on Standards in Public Life might come to the view that self-regulation should come to an end. I do not know what recommendations it will make—my hon. Friend may have far better knowledge of that than I do—but if it does recommend that, it will be our fault. I do not want to recount all that happened in relation to the dismissal, as I would describe it, of the last Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, but my view is that that led to a number of questions being raised in the minds of a good many people involved with integrity and honesty in public life, not only in Parliament.

Mr. Tony McWalter (Hemel Hempstead)

Will my hon. Friend accept that the previous parliamentary commissioner was given a virtually impossible job, and that the new parliamentary commissioner may have a more sensible job as a result?

David Winnick

I have made it clear both in debate and in correspondence that I wish the new parliamentary commissioner well. I genuinely mean that. He is in no way responsible for what happened previously, and it would be quite wrong to hold what happened to Mrs. Filkin against him in any way whatever. I want to put that clearly on record.

I also have great respect for the members and Chairman of the Standards and Privileges Committee. Self-regulation is always difficult. Passing judgment on one's colleagues, especially if they are in one's own party, is a job that not many would wish to do, but it is part and parcel of self-regulation. After all, in the medical profession, for example, if a member of a General Medical Council panel discussing a disciplinary case knew the person against whom the complaint was being made, we can rest assured that that panel member would not take part in those proceedings.

As for the proposals in front of us, I have reservations about the fact that a sum of £550 will not have to be declared if we agree to the report. Members may say, "What is £550 these days?" As has been pointed out, it is 1 per cent. of our salary. To many people outside, however—certainly to many of my constituents—£550 is quite a large sum. If the argument is, "We don't want to litter the register with smaller sums," I understand that. I hope that I will not be misunderstood—there is always a danger of sounding pious—but I would say, "Why accept gifts to the value of £550?" I do not want to give the impression that I am showered with gifts all the time in my constituency or elsewhere, but like most Members, I may be kindly offered a box of chocolates, for example, because of casework that I have done. Clearly, although I would not want to enter that gift in the register, I would explain that I much appreciate what is being offered and I accept it, but that, without wishing to be discourteous, I will give the gift—as would most if not all Members—to the local hospital. The important thing is not to be under any obligation. One could ask what obligation a Member would be under for —550, but that sum still seems too large to me.

9.25 pm
Peter Bottomley (Worthing, West)

Some people think that Members of Parliament should have no outside earnings, and to them the debate might seem beside the point. Although such a rule is not proposed, if it were, it would be impractical. For example, what would happen to a writer or a farmer? Are those people seriously suggesting that the only people who should come into the House of Commons are those who have no continuing interests that they want to maintain? I remember that when Peter Thurnham was out of work, he set up an engineering firm to give him a living. To ask such a person to give up his family-owned firm to become a Member of Parliament strikes me as wrong. Although we need a code of conduct that regulates hon. Members' outside interests, it is also true that many of our non-remunerated interests may cost us quite a lot, and bias us in favour of a particular interest or organisation far more than the possibility of receiving £550, or twice that sum.

The only part of the remarks of my right hon. Friend the Member for North-West Hampshire (Sir George Young) that I would rephrase is the idea that giving advice is a new strategy. It is clear from the second commissioner's words and work that she gave a great deal of advice not only to members of the public who had queries about the behaviour of Members of Parliament and possible complaints, but to Members of Parliament who approached her. The registrar also gave advice to Members of Parliament who requested it.

It was plain from one or two of the cases considered by the Standards and Privileges Committee that if the behaviour of a Member of Parliament could be judged to contradict the code of practice or the requirements of the register, a complaint would not be upheld had he or she taken the advice of the commissioner or the registrar. I am glad that the third commissioner is following that strategy. Sir Gordon Downey created that principle when he was the first commissioner, and he would have wanted it maintained.

Now is not the time to re-run our debate about the appointment of Philip Mawer as commissioner. I note the remarks of the hon. Member for North Cornwall (Mr. Tyler), but if the House is arguing for a continuation of self-regulation, we should make a change that we regard as sensible, on which we have consulted and received the advice of the Wicks committee, despite the fact that the committee's review is still taking place—not only because it is right in itself, but because the issues that the committee is considering go further than the changes to the code of conduct and the advocacy rule. If experience shows that we are right and the Committee on Standards in Public Life is, in our view, wrong, and we maintain our independent regulation, with an independent commissioner to help us, it is important that the committee does not, for example, recommend that we bring in outsiders for a tribunal, including lawyers, because we have already rejected that proposal. It is important that we avoid such repetition.

When the Wicks committee interviewed me, I thought that its members approached the subject with open minds. I must tell the Father of the House, the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell), that I did not get the idea, either on the day before I gave evidence or on the day that I went before the committee, that its members approached the subject with their minds made up. I may be wrong, but that was my impression.

I told the committee that I have the strong view, as my right hon. Friend spelt out, that neither the commissioner nor the Committee on Standards and Privileges considers criminal action. The procedures of the commissioner and the committee would halt were there to be any serious suggestion of even potential criminal charges. That is one of the reasons why I say clearly to the House that there is no question of Members being asked to incriminate themselves when they are asked or required to assist the commissioner in considering a query or complaint, or when they are helping the Committee on Standards and Privileges in its consideration of a commissioner's report and possible further action.

If there is no crime, there is no incrimination. There is the House of Commons obligation to co-operate with the process from beginning to end, by fulfilling the requirements of the register, which we shall adapt this evening, and by answering questions from the commissioner, whether or not the Member concerned thinks that the commissioner has the right to ask those questions. "Answer the questions" is the best advice that the House can give to any Member involved. The experience of some of our colleagues who have had questions raised, who have co-operated and adjusted their register entry and, in some cases, apologised for getting things wrong—or for not getting them quite right—is that the House, the general public and their constituents have not made much of a fuss about it. We all have to learn from that experience.

Mr. Dalyell

Will the hon. Gentleman confirm that it is his view that there should be no judgment or leak until a final judgment is arrived at?

Peter Bottomley

Yes, but I disagree with those who have publicly or privately said that the second commissioner or her office leaked information of that nature. Most of the time, when information came out which should not have done, I believe that it came from the Member complained of or from people around him or her. In a number of examples that has been demonstrated to be true, although in some cases one cannot demonstrate it. I have spent some time listening to journalists, especially those few who have watched the standards process, and not one has suggested to me that any information ever came improperly from the commissioner or her office.

The change in the limit to £550 is reasonably sensible. It could have been half that sum, but I do not think it should be much higher. I am glad that we are to sweep away the rather ridiculous declarations that one has received £25 from a research organisation, which may then have been passed on to a charity. Such declarations of sums up to £500 are misleading and unnecessary. I would advise hon. Members—this is the only part of my behaviour that I commend to others—that if they are to co-operate with a research organisation, it is far better not to take the money, even to give it to a charity. If we want to help a research organisation, we ought to take 15 minutes or even an hour to do so without any money changing hands at all. It is demeaning for Members of Parliament to give the impression that they will co-operate with research in association with, although not quite on condition of, the payment of such sums. That is unnecessary and sends the wrong signals.

I hope that the standards process becomes pretty dull and uninteresting. A number of the higher profile cases in the past were associated with newspaper investigations, or concerned a Member failing to co-operate with the commissioner's inquires and the Committee on Standards and Privileges. There were also other high profile cases that I do not want to go into this evening.

I have a comment to place on the record that I hope the Prime Minister picks up. The incorporation of the Members' code of conduct into the ministerial code, as announced by the Leader of the House when he appeared in front of the Wicks committee, was welcome and overdue. In many senses, it flatly contradicted the Prime Minister's answer to me during oral questions two or three weeks beforehand. I put the point to him, and he said that if there was a complaint about Ministers it should be put to the normal authorities in the normal way. The Prime Minister is the only person who invigilates the ministerial code, and he ought to have known that. I am sorry that on the spur of the moment he gave an answer that displayed his lack of understanding of the importance of what Ministers do.

I add to that this codicil: if Ministers at any time again fail to co-operate as fully as possible, or if officials of a political party fail to do so, as has happened recently, the Prime Minister, as leader both of his party and of the Government, should sack the Minister without question on the first day. That would enable the commissioner to discharge his or her duties even by working only three days a week—Elizabeth Filkin could have done so—and the House would not have had its reputation besmirched by the impression, which I share, that someone who gets close to people close to the Prime Minister is likely to suffer from whispering and direct action. I wish that I did not have to make that accusation in the House.

9.35 pm
Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

Instant first-day sacking without the opportunity to examine the facts seems a bit reckless. When I interrupted the hon. Member for North Cornwall (Mr. Tyler), I said that my impression—it was no more than that—from questions asked by the Wicks committee was that perhaps it was against self-regulation. My hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, North (David Winnick) is right; none of us can know exactly how it will report, as it will make that decision in the fullness in time. I have just one question for my hon. Friend the Minister, if I can have his attention for a moment. Why are we debating the code of conduct tonight? If I were Sir Nigel Wicks or one of his colleagues, I would be pretty cheesed off about that apparent fait accompli.

In fact, the interrogation conducted by the busy people who serve on the Wicks committee was extremely fascinating, as they asked several questions that had not occurred to many of us who had to try to answer them on the spur on the moment. All credit to them, but can we not keep the subject in cold storage until the committee has reported? We cannot take up the time of the busy, highly pressured members of the Wicks committee when, at the end of the day, they seem to have wasted their time because we have made up our minds anyway.

9.37 pm
Mr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (Cotswold)

As the Parliamentary Secretary was kind enough to give me advance warning that he would cite my case, perhaps I should begin by declaring my farming and agricultural interest, as recorded in the Register of Members' Interests, which led to a recommendation of the Committee on Standards and Privileges. I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your role in my case; I also thank the Committee Chairman, my right hon. Friend the Member for North-West Hampshire (Sir George Young) and members of the Committee for looking at the evidence that I submitted, considering it impartially and coming up with recommendations in the report to change the rules on initiation and advocacy.

It is worth putting on the record what happened to me, as it is an example of the way in which a rule drafted too restrictively can have unintended consequences. When the leader of the Opposition asked me to become a Front-Bench spokesman on agriculture, part of his reason for doing so, I believe, was my first-hand knowledge of the farming industry. While I was aware that under the rules on the declaration of Members' interests and advocacy there might be a problem, I had no idea of the scale of the difficulty that would confront me. With that in mind, to prepare for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs questions on 18 October 2001, and to be certain that I had complied with the rules correctly, I sought advice on 17 October from David Doig, the then Registrar of Members' Interests. In summary, his advice was that my first oral question would have to be preceded by a full declaration of my interests; let me say straight away that I have no problem whatsoever with making a full and absolute declaration of my interests at every opportunity. Although it was not an absolute requirement in the rules, David Doig strongly recommended—with a general caveat that all farming issues are inter—related that any subsequent question that I asked, particularly one relating to arable farming, should be accompanied by a similar declaration.

The parallel set of rules, the advocacy rules, stated at that time that a Member who has a pecuniary benefit from a body or individual outside Parliament may not initiate any Parliamentary proceeding which relates specifically and directly to the affairs and interests of that body or individual". As you are aware from my subsequent letter and meeting with you, Mr. Speaker, that would have prevented me at the time from signing any Opposition motion or amendment, proposing or opening any debate or tabling any written question—not just a written question with an "R" by my name, but any written question. Given that I am not just a farmer but represent a large rural constituency with many farming interests, the rules would effectively have prevented me from asking questions on behalf of my constituents.

In my letter to you, Mr. Speaker, I went on: In essence this meant that my job as an Opposition Agriculture Spokesman was unworkable and untenable. I believe the same problem would also apply to any back-bencher from any party.

Mr. Dalyell

Will the hon. Gentleman allow me?

Mr. Clifton-Brown

If I may complete the quote from my letter to the Speaker, I shall happily give way to the hon. Gentleman.

My letter continued: It seems that anyone who has had any sort of commercial interest prior to coming into the House and continues to hold that interest as a Member of Parliament would have great difficulty in using the expert knowledge that they have gained, which might be of benefit to their constituents, party and to the function of the House in general. I consider that the rules are unnecessarily restrictive. There must be a difference between general advocacy of a topic and specific advocacy of a particular interest where a Member stands to benefit, personally or financially; for example, in my case a general advocacy of agriculture as distinct from calling for a specific subsidy that would benefit my business.

I cannot believe that when the rules were drafted, that was the intended consequence. I fully accept that there must be a balance between Members' declaration of interests and public confidence in the integrity of Members of Parliament. However, I do not believe that with that interpretation of the rules as they stood at that time the balance was correct.

I give way to the Father of the House.

Mr. Dalyell

How did the rules put the hon. Gentleman in that position, but allow Michael Jopling to be an Agriculture Minister?

Mr. Clifton-Brown

I have pondered that question. I am not sure whether the rules were the same at the time, but that is the advice that I got from the Registrar of Members' Interests concerning the interpretation of the rules in the case of somebody in my position who had a pecuniary interest in farming. I was informed by the registrar that, with the rules as they stood, the same restrictions on initiation and advocacy would have applied to a practising doctor taking a job as a health spokesman, or to a teacher taking a job as an education spokesman.

Mr. Levitt

The hon. Gentleman is performing a service by reminding the House of the reasons behind the change in the rules. I think I am right in saying that the present rules date back to 1996, so they would not have caught the Jopling case. It is also worth putting it on record that the Sheldon case at about this time last year was at the front of our minds when we were formulating the recommendations, which, as the hon. Gentleman said, were prompted by his experience.

Mr. Clifton-Brown

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that clarification. The position was as I suggested to the Father of the House.

Having put on record what the problem was, I wrote to you, Mr. Speaker, and you kindly asked me to come and see you. We had a full and frank discussion about the matter, and you asked me to write in the same terms to the Chairman of the Standards and Privileges Committee, which I did. The Committee examined the matter, considered my first evidence and my subsequent evidence, and came up with two possibilities. One was the disproportionate benefit rule, and the other the less onerous exclusive benefit rule, which, as the Chairman said, would prevent a Member from seeking to confer a benefit exclusively on a body in which he had or expected to have a pecuniary interest.

I suspect that the House will return to that definition, as its precise meaning is still unclear. In my case, would I fall foul of it if I were to ask from the Front Bench for a subsidy for arable farmers from which I would benefit, even if a large number of my constituents would also benefit and had been asking me to lobby for such a measure? I am not certain about that and I think that the House will need to revisit the subject, although it is clearer than it was. To that extent, I am grateful to the Chairman of the Standards and Privileges Committee.

Why have I raised this subject? A fundamental matter of principle is involved, and it was raised earlier, during the previous debate. What do we want in this House? Do we want to be bumbling amateurs or do we want people to come into the House who have real knowledge of the outside world? I suggest that we want Members to come into the House with real knowledge of the outside world. That serves Parliament and this country well. I do not think that we want professional politicians who do not have experience of the outside world. One of the great strengths of the other place is that whatever it is debating, there are people of nationally—if not internationally—renowned reputation in the field in question. That is what enhances and gives quality to debates in the other place.

Mr. Alan Williams (Swansea, West)

The word "exclusive" refers to whether an exclusive benefit would be conferred in terms of the interest that the hon. Member in question had found to be personally registrable. It would not apply to a generic group including all arable farmers. That is the difference. There is a paradox that we have not addressed and which I regard as nonsensical: hon. Members could speak against their own interest, but if they had not declared it, they would be in breach of the rules. Even though they had spoken against their interest, they would be in breach of the rules for having spoken about it at all.

Mr. Clifton-Brown

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for trying to clarify the matter, but let me throw the issue back at him. Suppose I was a member of the National Farmers Union as a farmer with a pecuniary interest in farming, and was advocating a specific topic on which the union had lobbied me and which would confer an "exclusive benefit" on a trade or body, to use the words of the report. Would I fall foul or not?

Mr. Williams


Mr. Clifton-Brown

It appears that the right hon. Gentleman is going to tell me.

Mr. Williams

If the Member was the sole operator in the trade, the answer would be yes; if he was not the sole operator, the answer would be no.

Mr. Clifton-Brown

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for that clarification. When people get into problems subsequently, they may look back at his words, which might help to provide clarification.

I think that I have adequately described my situation. If the House accepts the report and the change on rules and initiation, it will be doing the country and our constituents a service. I recommend and endorse the change and thank the Chairman and his Committee.

9.48 pm
Ross Cranston (Dudley, North)

I am a member of the Standards and Privileges Committee and want briefly to express my support for the recommendations.

The major change that we are recommending relates to the advocacy rule, which the hon. Member for Cotswold (Mr. Clifton-Brown) has just addressed. In fact, it was his problem that brought clearly to mind the fact that the rule had become unworkable. We propose that the advocacy rule be the rule that was originally recommended by what is now called the Wicks committee—the Committee on Standards in Public Life. We are doing nothing more than adopting the approach of what is now the Wicks committee as a method of ensuring that legitimate parliamentary activity is permitted.

We could sum up the other changes that the report recommends by saying that they attempt to simplify and update the rules in various ways. One effect is to reduce the number of registrable interests by introducing a £550 limit, to which I shall refer shortly. I emphasise that the recommendations will tighten the rules—for example, those that apply to property that hon. Members own. They should therefore consider that carefully. The rules on shareholdings have also been tightened. A new definition brings partners within the scope of the rules, and that definition now refers not only to spouses. The changes do not all constitute relaxation of the rules; some are tightened. We are trying to update the rules—the rule on partners is an example of that—and also to simplify them.

I want to comment on the points that hon. Members made in the debate. First, the hon. Member for North Cornwall (Mr. Tyler) and my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) asked why the recommendations were being made now when the Wicks committee is considering the matter. We are examining the substance of the code, whereas the Wicks committee is dealing with the machinery to enforce the registration system and the code of conduct. It is considering a different aspect of the problem. However, I take the point that we do not want to examine such matters often because it is a burden on hon. Members, who have to register their interests. If we constantly change the rules, it places a heavy onus on them. I accept the general point of the hon. Member for North Cornwall that we must keep the matter under review, but not too frequently because that would create confusion.

I always find the comments of my hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock (Andrew Mackinlay) stimulating. He often makes me go away and think about things. I want to reassure him that the rules contained several financial limits, and we believed, in the interests of simplification, that we should adopt one cut-off point or threshold. We decided on the figure of 1 per cent. of the parliamentary salary. One could argue that it should be 0.5 per cent. or 2 per cent., but we fixed on 1 per cent. as a relatively simple threshold.

My hon. Friend mentioned foreign travel. It is registrable if it falls above the threshold. If the foreign sponsorship involved a total payment of £600 in air fares, accommodation and so on, it would have to be registered. I am not sure that the threshold in that instance will mean that large amounts of foreign travel will not be subject to registration. I believe that they will.

Andrew Mackinlay

With respect, I believe that my hon. and learned Friend misses my point. The rules are unfair to hon. Members who go abroad and register that they have travelled at the invitation of a specific Government because they are interested in the country. The answer is for the House to facilitate adequate travel budgets so that hon. Members can travel unencumbered, unembarrassed and uninfluenced by a host Government. That should be the objective.

Ross Cranston

My hon. Friend anticipates my point: I was about to say that he had made me think about the matter. I agree with him, but that is not in the remit of our Committee. It is a good point, because Members of other legislatures get much more sponsored travel than us. There is a good argument for saying that we should receive more. There is already a limited amount, but perhaps it should cover trips to other parts of the world as well as to the EU.

The hon. Member for Worthing, West (Peter Bottomley) made a point about incorporating the code into the ministerial code. There is a good argument for that, and I suspect that it will not be long before that is done. I agree with that point, but, again, it was not in the remit of the report. We were looking at the substance of the rules, and at how they ought to be changed.

Finally, I do not think that we have a purely self-regulatory system.

David Winnick

Before my hon. and learned Friend makes his final point, may I ask him a question relating to free gifts? Would he or his colleagues be in favour of the proposal that Members should send a copy of their annual tax return to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards? Is there any reason why we should not do that? The information would not necessarily go into the public domain; it could be held in private by the Commissioner. What is the argument against that?

Ross Cranston

There are big issues of privacy involved, and I would not go along with my hon. Friend on that proposal. The registration rules are quite clear. I shall read out part of rule 9, because it is important. Apart from the specific rules, there is a more general obligation upon Members to keep the overall definition of the Register's purpose in mind when registering their interests. In other words, if an hon. Member thinks that a gift whose value falls below the threshold could be seen by outsiders as leading to the perception of a conflict of interest, they ought to register it, under the rules. If they thought that something below the value of —550 fell within the general definition of the register's purpose, the onus would be on them to register it. I should have thought that, in most cases, that would not apply, but my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, North (David Winnick) might take a different view about the very expensive box of chocolates that he receives and, under rule 9, he would be obliged to register it. As I mentioned, I do not think that we have a purely self-regulatory system. As my hon. Friend the Minister made clear, we are subject, in some cases, to the criminal law. We are subject to outside regulators, in that sense. We are also subject to constant public review by the press and, ultimately, we are accountable to the electorate. The most extreme example of that involved the former Member for Tatton, when the electorate said that his behaviour was not acceptable and that they would therefore not elect him—if that is how we interpret that particular result.

These rules are self-enforcing in the sense that the onus is on all of us to comply with them. If Members adopt a reasonable interpretation of the rules, they should not be subject to criticism. I adopt that view in a fairly legalistic way. If it is quite clear that a particular case does not fall within the rules, I do not think that Members should be subject to criticism on the basis that they should have sought advice and should have registered. I do not think that that is the way to go about it. These are self-enforcing rules, and Members have to read them. Yes, they should seek advice if they are in any doubt, but if they have no doubt, and if their interpretation of the rules is reasonable, they should not be subject to criticism.

On the whole, then, I commend these proposals to the House. We have tidied up the rules and brought them up to date. We have also dealt with the unworkability of the rule in relation to advocacy, which the hon. Member for Cotswold so amply illustrated in his speech. I commend the proposals to the House.

9.59 pm
Sir George Young

By leave of the House, may I say that I am very grateful, on behalf of the Committee, for the kind words that have been said about the report? I should like to reply briefly. I understand that business can go on after 10 o'clock, so if we hit 10 o'clock, I shall not turn into a pumpkin.

I want to say to the hon. Member for Thurrock (Andrew Mackinlay) that a number of his hon. Friends have expressed the view to the Committee that the one group of people that is precluded from initiating a debate about a country overseas is often the group that knows most about it because it has recently visited it. That is the reason behind that change. I thought that I heard the hon. Gentleman utter some disobliging remarks about Tilbury football club, in which case, he is a very brave man. Whatever honorary position he is now obliged to declare in the register as an officer of that club may shortly be removed from him. As for minor interests, I think that he will find that the letter from the commissioner will discourage the registration of trivial matters so that what really needs to be registered is registered.

The hon. Member for North Cornwall (Mr. Tyler) mentioned timing. Some of the recommendations were made more than a year ago. There is a case for getting on with things when the House or the Select Committee has formed a view, which means that there may never be a right time, but I would be surprised if the Wicks committee took offence at what we are doing tonight.

I say to the hon. Gentleman, and to the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell), that I think that the Wicks committee is more interested in the overall structure for maintaining standards of conduct in the House than in the details of the code. When I was examined, it was interested in an appeal process, the composition of the committee, the independence of the commissioner and the seniority of those serving on the committee.

Peter Bottomley

One of the changes made by the House a few months ago was the introduction of the rectification procedure, suggested, I think, by the former commissioner. Under that useful procedure, if a Member thinks his or her entry should be changed, that can be done without the need for a report from the commissioner.

Sir George Young

Many of the changes that we are introducing are welcome. It would have been wrong to postpone them, especially that mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Cotswold (Mr. Clifton-Brown).

Of course we will keep these matters under review, and of course there will be a dialogue with the Wicks committee. The hon. Member for North Cornwall described the proposals as provisional and transitional. That implies a degree of mortality to which I would not subscribe, but they will be kept under review. It is rather like painting the Forth bridge.

I understand what the hon. Member for Walsall, North (David Winnick) said about limits. In paragraph 2 of the report, we point out that wherever the line is drawn there will be an argument for drawing it somewhere else. But there is a line in regard to gifts, which concerned him, along with the rules on hospitality and earnings. The £125 rule had not been reviewed for some time, and we felt that 1 per cent. was right.

Mr. Levitt

I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will confirm that there used to be a number of de minimis rules in different parts of the code. Is it not much more consistent to apply a 1 per cent. threshold to all the different categories?

Sir George Young

Yes. One of our guidelines was a requirement for consistency and clarity.

Mr. Alan Williams

Was not one of the reasons for our switching to a percentage basis the fact that it was self-indexing, and did not need future adjusting?

Sir George Young

There was also the argument that people might not remember the £125 figure, but most know what Members of Parliament are paid and can work out what I per cent. of that is.

My hon. Friend the Member for Worthing, West (Peter Bottomley) said he hoped that our proceedings would be dull. I can only say that they are more dull now that he has left.

Mr. Tyler

It may be rather early to ask this question, but can the right hon. Gentleman confirm that, now that he and other Chairmen of Select Committees are apparently to receive additional remuneration, the 1 per cent. will apply to that extra money?

Sir George Young

The 1 per cent. is 1 per cent. of the parliamentary salary. If the hon. Gentleman reads the recommendations of the Modernisation Committee, he will see that my Committee was excluded from the benefit of additional remuneration for its Chairman. That is quite right, and I do not seek such remuneration myself. I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Cotswold for making the case so eloquently, and for helping us to make a change to the advocacy rule. That will benefit not just those caught by it but the House, in allowing us to gain from their wisdom.

I hope that some time will elapse before we have to do this again.

Question put and agreed to.



(1) this House approves the Ninth Report from the Committee on Standards and Privileges, (House of Commons Paper No. 763), A new Code of Conduct and Guide to the Rules;

(2) the Resolution of the House of 6th November 1995 relating to Conduct of Members shall be amended, at the end, by adding the words 'or any approach, whether oral or in writing, to Ministers or servants of the Crown';

(3) the Resolution of the House of 6th November 1995 relating to Employment Agreements shall be redesignated 'Agreements for the Provision of Services;' and shall be amended, as follows:

  1. (a) by leaving out the words 'up to £1,000, £1,000-£5,000, £5,000—£10,000' in each of paragraphs (1), (2) and (3) and inserting the words 'up to £5,000, £5,001-£10,000';
  2. (b) after the word 'inspection' in each of paragraphs (1), (2) and (3), by inserting the words 'and reproduction';
  3. (c) at the end, by adding the words—
`Provided that the requirement to deposit a copy of an agreement with the Commissioner shall not apply—
  1. (a) if the fees or benefits payable do not exceed one per cent. of the current parliamentary salary; nor
  2. (b) in the case of media work (but in that case the Member shall deposit a statement of the fees or benefits payable in the bands specified above)';

(4) the Code of Conduct and the Guide to the Rules relating to the Conduct of Members (House of Commons Paper No. 688 (1995–96)) shall be amended as proposed in Annex 2 to the Report; and

(5) the registration forms submitted for the next published Register of Members' interests shall comply with the new rules on the registration of Members' interests; and any requirement under the new rules to register an interest which is not registrable now shall come into force on the publication of the next Register.