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Commissioner's response to Committee Report

Kathryn Stone OBE, Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, responds to the Committee on Standards' new report 'Sanctions and confidentiality in the House's standards system: revised proposals'. The new report builds on recommendations made in two previous reports by the Committee.

I welcome the Committee’s report on sanctions and confidentiality in the House’s standards system. I would particularly like to thank the Committee for their careful and considered approach to the difficult and nuanced issue of confidentiality.

Securing the confidentiality of investigations remains a challenge. As Commissioner, I have little control over whether complainants or respondents publish an allegation during an inquiry. This has been of great concern to me, not least because unauthorised disclosure leaves both complainants and respondents at risk of their case being aired in public and unable to correct false media reports. I believe the Committee’s proposals will encourage far greater confidence in the Parliamentary standards system and demonstrate our commitment to the Nolan principles of openness and accountability. 

I welcome the proposed increase in the range of sanctions available and believe that these sanctions better reflect the variety and severity of the breaches I consider. I appreciate the importance of the Committee’s approach that sanctions should penalise a Member who has broken the rules, but as far as possible should not impact negatively upon either Members’ staff or constituents. 

I look forward to the House’s consideration of this report, and believe it will have a hugely positive impact on the Parliamentary standards system.

Kathryn Stone OBE
Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards


Notes for Editors

1. The current framework for Parliamentary Standards dates from 1995, when the first Commissioner was appointed. Kathryn Stone OBE is the sixth Commissioner. She was appointed for five years with effect from 1 January 2018. The appointment is not renewable.

2. The Commissioner's main duties are:

  • to maintain the Register of Members' Financial Interests and the other registers of interests for Members' staff, journalists and All-Party Groups;
  • to provide advice confidentially on matters relating to the registration and declaration of interests;
  • to advise the Committee on Standards on the interpretation of the Code of Conduct;
  • to monitor the operation of the Code of Conduct and registers and to make recommendations to the Committee thereon;
  • to investigate, if she thinks fit, specific matters which have come to her attention relating to the conduct of Members and to report on them to the Committee on Standards.
  • to consider cases arising under the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme.
  • the Commissioner's remit was extended on 19 July 2018 to allow her to oversee investigations and make findings in cases against MPs under the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS).

Details of the ICGS scheme can be found here. Details of the Independent Expert Panel can be found here.

The Commissioner's remit does not extend to the House of Lords. Information about the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards can be found here.

Complaints about the misuse of the scheme for parliamentary expenses since May 2010 are a matter for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority. Information about their Compliance Officer is here.

3. The Commissioner's Annual Report can be read here.

Memoranda on individual cases investigated by the Commissioner during the year were published as appendices to Reports of the Committee on Standards.

Details of cases concluded via the rectification process since 2008 can be found here.

Details of cases not upheld, where no memorandum was sent to the Committee since 2008,  can be found here.

Statistics on complaints can be found here.

Description of the process for investigating complaints can be found here.

The latest edition of the Register of Members' Financial Interests can be found here.

4. The Commissioner's office is available for media enquiries on 020 7219 0191.