Explanatory Notes: Principal Residence

Explanatory Notes: Declarations of Principal Residence

On 22 March 2010 the House of Lords agreed the House Committee Third Report – Financial Support for Members of the House: Declaration of Principal Residence and Publication.

From the beginning of the new Parliament (18 May 2010) a valid declaration of principal residence was required to be completed and returned to the Finance Department before claims for reimbursement for night subsistence could be processed. If a Member did not claim night subsistence, they were not required to fill in a declaration.
In making a declaration, Members were reminded of their obligations under the House of Lords Code of Conduct. They were required to act on their personal honour and, as with all their parliamentary activities, in accordance with the seven general principles of conduct set out by the Committee on Standards in Public Life.

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Step-by-step guide to the form

The numbers below relate to those numbers on the left-hand side of the declaration form.

The Member’s full title (e.g. Lord Smith/ Baroness Jones of London). 

Contains the location of Member’s principal residence to the level of city, town or county. Members were encouraged to state the city or town unless this led to the possibility that their place of residence could be easily identified; otherwise they should state the county. If their principal residence was overseas, ‘overseas’ or country of residence could be stated here.

If a Member felt that their security may be put at risk by the publication of these details, they were required to provide Black Rod with a written explanation of the circumstances and their concerns. Their submission was treated in strict confidence. Black Rod would take advice as necessary and his decision, which was final, was made in writing to the Member. In these instances the form is published, but the location field has been left blank.

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Members were required to make a declaration of where they spend most of their time when the House is not sitting, i.e. non-sitting days, weekends, and recesses, and in particular where they spend most nights. In making this declaration they should have considered both their current pattern of residence and where they expected to spend their time for the forthcoming year. If their circumstances changed they were required to make a new declaration.

If because of exceptional circumstances a Member wished to register a principal residence where they did not, or may not, spend most nights when the House was not sitting, they were required to qualify their declaration with a valid explanation. Examples of a valid explanation could have been that they were undergoing long-term treatment in hospital or that they had been temporarily posted abroad as part of a military or diplomatic mission.

Members could have chosen, but were not required, to add further information in support of their declaration. Examples of information they may have wished to include were the length of time they had lived at the address or where their immediate family was based. They could also have included additional information.

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Members were required to submit a copy of their current council tax bill and one additional document from the approved list as evidence of their principal residence.

  • Current council tax bill – this had to be for the principal residence and be in a Member’s sole or joint name. They were not allowed to claim a second home council tax discount on their principal residence. Members whose principal residence was in Northern Ireland were required to provide a rates bill. If a Member’s principal residence was overseas they could submit a copy of an equivalent document.

Members indicated on the form which additional document they submitted.

  • Utility bill – this could have been a gas, electricity or water bill for the principal residence. It had to be less than three months old and in their sole or joint name.
  • Bank, building society or credit card statement – this needed to show the address of the principal residence, be less than three months old and be in their sole or joint name.
  • Current house or car insurance policy – this had to be either buildings or contents insurance for the principal residence or a car insurance policy at the address of the principal residence. The policy had to be current on the date it was submitted and be in their sole or joint name.
  • Current mortgage statement, tenancy agreement or document of title – this had to be in their sole or joint name. A mortgage statement had to be for a mortgage on the principal residence and be less than one year old. A tenancy agreement had to be for a tenancy of the principal residence and apply to the same financial year as the declaration. A document of title had to show their ownership of the principal residence.
  • Valid UK driving licence – this had to be in their name and show the address of the principal residence. It could be either a full or provisional licence.  

The second side of the form contained:

  • Full address of principal residence
  • Travel details from principal residence to the House of Lords
  • Signature
  • Date

These details, along with the supporting documents submitted, contain personal data and are not published for data protection reasons.

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If a Member’s circumstances changed they were required to complete a change of declaration of principal residence form, as soon as practicable, and no later than one month after the change of circumstances.

The Declarations of Principal Residence are published by Member grouped alphabetically. A table summarising the declarations is also published. On a few published declarations some minor redactions have been made in relation to personal data, for example, a Member’s signature or other personal information.

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