HL Deb 07 November 1995 vol 566 cc1640-1

3.38 p.m.

The Chairman of Committees

My Lords, I beg to move the second Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, during the first part of the proceedings on these matters we seem to have drifted to some extent over both Motions. However, it is probably necessary for me to say a word or two in explanation of this Motion. Without wishing to attempt in any way to suggest to your Lordships that your Lordships should stifle any remarks that you may wish to make, perhaps this Motion, as we have drifted across parts of it, might be taken relatively shortly.

The purpose of this Motion is to establish a register of interests in accordance with the recommendations of the sub-committee chaired by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Griffiths. The text of the Motion is substantially that which appeared in the annex to the fifth report from the Procedure Committee with only minor drafting changes. As recommended by the sub-committee, the Motion gives to the Committee for Privileges the task of overseeing the registration arrangements. If your Lordships agree to the Motion today, that committee will be invited at the beginning of the new Session to approve the detailed arrangements for the establishment and operation of the register. It will of course be up to the committee to determine what those arrangements should be but it may be helpful if at this stage I say that it is likely that your Lordships will in due course be sent a notice explaining the detailed arrangements for initial registration and giving a date by which existing interests should be registered. After that, as stated in the Motion, your Lordships will be expected to register within one month any new interests which are required to be registered.

If your Lordships agree to this Motion today, I should tell the House that the Clerk of the Parliaments has it in mind to appoint as registrar Mr. James Valiance White, the Fourth Clerk at the Table and Principal Clerk in the Judicial Office. In moving the Motion, perhaps I may take the opportunity of thanking the noble Lords, Lord Williams of Elvel and Lord Cockfield, for their helpful suggestions. As I have indicated, small changes to the texts have been put forward and it is those that I have in mind when thanking the two noble Lords.

I believe that it is the general wish of your Lordships that the register should be introduced without delay and I am sure that the Committee for Privileges will deal with the matter as expeditiously as possible.

Moved, That there shall be established a register of:

  1. (1) consultancies, or any similar arrangements, whereby members of the House accept payment or other incentive or reward for providing parliamentary advice or services;
  2. (2) any financial interests of members of the House in businesses involved in parliamentary lobbying on behalf of clients; and
  3. (3) any other particulars which members of the House wish to register relating to matters which they consider may affect the public perception of the way in which they discharge their parliamentary duties.

The register shall be maintained under the authority of the Clerk of the Parliaments by a Registrar appointed by him.

Existing arrangements falling within categories (1) and (2) above shall be registered within one month of the register being established. Subsequent arrangements falling within those categories shall be registered within one month of their being made.

The register shall be available for public inspection in accordance with arrangements to be made by the Registrar. The register shall also be published annually. The annual edition shall include all arrangements registered since the previous edition; and all continuing arrangements unless their termination has been notified to the Registrar.

The operation of the register shall be overseen by the Committee for Privileges.

The Committee for Privileges shall investigate, and report to the House on, any allegation of failure to register interests within categories (1) and (2); provided that the Committee shall first satisfy itself that an allegation has sufficient substance to warrant investigation.

The Committee may remit any or all of the matters covered by this order to a sub-committee.

In considering any allegation of failure to register interests, the Committee and any sub-committee shall not sit unless three Lords of Appeal be present.—(The Chairman of Committees.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.