Lords Conduct Committee recommend tightening of rules on disclosure of income from foreign governments and connected companies
Wednesday 24 March 2021
The House of Lords Conduct Committee has today published a report recommending that there should be no exemptions to the rule that Members who provide services to foreign governments, or organisations that might be reasonably thought to be foreign state owned or controlled, must register the work and payment received in the House of Lords Register of Interests.
The report builds on the Committee’s report of November 2020, agreed by the House in December, which introduced a new requirement for Members to register work for, and the amount of money received from, foreign governments. That report proposed an exemptions scheme based on existing professional duties of confidentiality, including for Members providing legal services. At the time the Committee undertook to consult on which professions and lines of work might qualify for such exemptions. Having undertaken that consultation, including with The Bar Standards Board, the Solicitors Regulation Authority and other professional bodies, the Committee has reported:
“Our main conclusion is that the public interest demands that there should be no exemptions to the scheme for registering certain foreign interests which the House agreed in December.”
The Committee recognise the sensitivity of some legal proceedings and so recommend that lawyers should be required to disclose the identity of clients only once the relationship has entered the public domain or they have been paid (wholly or in part) for the work, whichever comes first.
The report will have to be agreed by the House before coming into force. It is expected to be debated soon after the Easter recess.