Lords Privileges and Conduct Committee publish report on registration of interests

22 June 2012

The House of Lords Privileges and Conduct Committee has today published new guidance on Members’ responsibilities regarding their registration of interests.

The Committee’s report, to which a report from the Sub-Committee on Lords Conduct is annexed, provides guidance on the effect of changes to the House’s rules on conduct agreed by the House on 9 November 2011. These changes required Members to declare sources of income paid to companies which they own or control or of  which they are directors (category 1 of the register), for work personally undertaken by the Member concerned.
 
The source of each individual payment made in relation to directorships

The report indicates that the source of payments made to a company which a Member of the House of Lords owns or controls or of which he is a director, for work done personally by that Member, must be declared. The Committee draw attention for the requirement for Members to be ‘open and accountable in the way they perform their parliamentary duties’.

Limited Liability Partnerships

The Committee confirm that the requirement to register sources of remuneration under category 2 of the register (remunerated employment) covers Partnerships and LLPs. This means Members involved in such undertakings must register the sources of payments made to those undertakings for work personally done by the Member.

Confidentiality clauses

The report confirms that Members should not enter into contracts for their personal services if such contracts have confidentiality clauses that would not allow the Member to disclose full details.

However, the Committee recognise that rules should not be applied retrospectively and Members should not be forced to breach existing contracts The Committee therefore recommend a transitional period, in respect of contracts entered into before 9 November 2011, and ending on 31 March 2013 by which time all requirements of the Code of Conduct will apply. 

Established professional duties of privacy or confidentiality

The report confirms that members are not required to disclose the identity of clients where to do so would contradict “any established professional duty of privacy or confidentiality”. The Committee does not seek to define this term, but gives some indicative examples, noting that such duties are those “generally recognised within the profession concerned”. However, the Committee states that confidentiality clauses in contracts are not included in this exception.