Parliamentary Committees and Public Enquiries
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Committee publishes Government response to reports on the Code of Conduct

The Committee on Standards has said it grateful for the Government providing its response to the Committee’s reports on the Code of Conduct for MPs.

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In May and July, the Committee on Standards proposed a comprehensive package of changes to the Code of Conduct for MPs and to the process for dealing with breaches of the Code. The Committee yesterday published the Government’s response to its proposals.

The Committee proposed a set of reforms to tighten the rules, particularly around lobbying, transparency and conflicts of interest. These proposals are the product of the Committee’s extensive review of the Code of Conduct, taking a range of oral and written evidence inside and outside the House for over a year.

Among the proposals is an outright ban on MPs accepting paid jobs as parliamentary advisers, strategists or consultants; tightening the 'serious wrong' exemption; and requiring Members to have a written contract for any outside work that makes clear that they cannot lobby Ministers, Members or public officials, or advise them on lobbying.

Further, the proposed Procedural Protocol brings together in a single document all the processes for how breaches of the MPs’ Code of Conduct are dealt with.

The proposed Protocol followed a review by the distinguished former Appeal Court judge, Sir Ernest Ryder, who was commissioned by the Committee in December. The review was subsequently published in February.

The Committee accepted all of Sir Ernest’s recommendations in May, and set out in detail a plan for implementing them. The Government has now responded to all the Committee’s recommendations.

In its response to the reports, the Government noted that the proposals should be put to the House as soon as possible. The response also noted that Members should have sufficient time to properly consider the substantive proposals. The Committee agrees with this and is now calling on the Government to make time in the House of Commons to debate and decide on the proposals for a revised Code of Conduct and Guide to the Rules, and the new Procedural Protocol.

Chair of the Committee on Standards, Chris Bryant MP, yesterday said:

“The Committee’s proposals will refresh, clarify and strengthen the Code of Conduct and tighten up the rules around conflicts of interests. They will also enhance the process for dealing with breaches of the Code.

“But the ultimate decision to implement these changes lies not with the Committee, or the Government—but the House itself. For this reason, it is imperative that the House is able to consider the proposals as soon as possible.

“I urge the Government to bring forward the relevant motions to the House as soon as possible when the House returns in October so Members can debate and decide on these important changes.”

The three reports with final recommendations on the Code of Conduct, the Guide to the Rules, and the draft Procedural Protocol, are available to view here on the Committee website.

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