Code of Conduct and Rules of the House
The new revised Code of Conduct and The Guide to the Rules relating to the Conduct of Members, came into effect on 1 March 2023 (previous versions of the Code available here). The summary below is to assist Members in considering and applying the new revisions; it is not a substitute for reading the Code and the Guide in full.
Ban on paid parliamentary advice:
- There is a ban on providing, or agreeing to provide, paid parliamentary advice
- Employment and earnings requirements have been simplified to: “Over £300 for the total of payments of whatever size from the same source in a calendar year”. (The “over £100” threshold has been removed)
- Payments for opinion surveys no longer need to be registered
- Significant, formal, unpaid roles should be registered under category 8
- Crowdfunded legal funds should be registered under category 8, and Members should state whether or not a benefit has been received
The lobbying rules:
- The rules apply equally to approaches as to proceedings, and there is no longer a distinction between “initiating” and “participating” in proceedings or approaches
- The time limit prohibiting lobbying has been extended from 6 to 12 months
- The test of whether a proceeding or approach “seeks to confer a benefit” has been clarified to say that “financial or material benefit” should be interpreted narrowly, and not where the benefit was widely distributed
- There is a new exemption for frontbench spokespersons
- The “serious wrong” exemption has been amended
- The test in respect of overseas visits has been clarified
Requirement for written contracts:
- Members taking on any formal paid employment with an outside body must now obtain a written contract or written statement of particulars detailing their duties and adhering to the requirements set out in Chapter 4 of the Guide. To assist Members, the Commissioner has published a template provision on his webpages on parliament.uk.
The facilities rule:
- Now allows “modest and reasonable personal use”
- Clarifies that facilities includes an office on the Parliamentary estate
- Members will not be found in breach of the rules if, before acting, they provide adequate information to, and seek and follow the advice of, the Registrar or, in the case of the stationery rules, the Clerk of the Journals.
The Code and Guide do not apply retrospectively: any alleged breaches that occurred before 1 March will be dealt with under the Code and Guide in force at the relevant time.