SP051202-2

New Rules for the Register of Members' Interests
5 December 2002


The revised and updated Register of Members' financial interests, issued today, will help MPs to meet their obligations under the Rules of the House and make it easier  for members of the public to see what MPs' registrable interests are.

This is the result of the House's wish, shared by the Standards and Privileges Committee, to simplify the Register, in order to ensure that it focusses more clearly than before on financial interests which might reasonably be thought to influence a Member's conduct. It also reflects the Commissioner for Standards' emphasis on preventing problems before they arise.

The Register provides the public with information of any pecuniary (financial) interest or material benefit, which 'might reasonably be thought by others' to influence an MP's actions.

The principal changes approved by the House of Commons on 14th May 2002 are to clarify what is, or is not, registrable. This includes creating clear thresholds, in those cases where none previously existed, eg in respect of property holdings; standardising existing thresholds; tightening the requirements in relation to share-holdings; and removing references to non-financial items, eg unpaid jobs or charitable activities.

Although there have been changes in what is, or is not, registrable, MPs are still expected to declare any interest, financial or otherwise, which is relevant, for example, to a debate.

The principal changes to the Register are:

Increased precision of registration requirements, eg in relation to media activities

Actual value, not nominal value, of share holdings

Inclusion of sources of all fees and benefits received in excess of 1% of basic salary (current salary £55,000 pa) from any one source

Registration of sponsorship brought into line with requirements of Electoral Commission

Inclusion of certain benefits to partners as well as spouses

Unremunerated positions (eg memberships of professional bodies, charities, societies etc) are no longer registered.

Speaking about the new Register Sir George Young, Chairman of the Committee,  said:

"The purpose of the new Register is to help members understand more clearly the rules to which they are subject and be held to account. Both the Committee on Standards and Privileges and Sir Philip Mawer, the Standards Commissioner, will keep the operation of the new arrangements under careful review to ensure they are working in the public interest."

ENDS.

Press Enquiries: Any enquiries about the new Register should be directed initially to the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards (tel: 020 7219 0311), or if they relate to an individual Member's entry, to the office of the Member concerned.

Any requests for interviews with Sir George Young or the Commissioner should be directed to John Stonborough: 020 7219 3078 (mobile: 07771 893 683), [email protected]

The Register of Members' Interests (as at 26 November 2002) is published as HC 131.

From 3.30 pm on the day of publication it can also be accessed via the Parliamentary web site: www.parliament.uk (select 'Index' and then the letter 'R', then Register of Members' Interests).