The Speaker of the House of Commons last night wrote to Rt Hon Kevin Barron MP, Chair of the Standards Committee, asking his Committee to consider the issue of the interests of Select Committee Chairs.
The full text of the letter is as follows:
As we both know, a Member has recently referred himself to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards for investigation of alleged breaches of Parliamentary rules in respect of lobbying. Naturally the Commissioner will conduct her own investigation into the particular circumstances and none of us would seek to interfere with, or pre-judge, that investigation.
However, last November, I mentioned to the Government Chief Whip and the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, my concern, on behalf of the House, about what many might regard as an inherent incompatibility between chairing a Select Committee and having commercial interests, even though fully transparently registered, in the sector covered by that Committee.
At present, Chairs of Select Committees are required simply to register such interests, but they are not prevented from having them. As I believe that there is a reputational issue for the House involved, I should be most grateful if your Committee would consider this specific and important matter, with a view to making a recommendation to the House. Colleagues would then have the opportunity to decide whether to maintain the status quo, or to introduce a new rule on the subject.
Rt Hon John Bercow MP
The Committee considers reports from the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, oversees her work and recommends any changes to the Code of Conduct or to the rules relating to the conduct of MPs.