Publication of New Register of Members’ Interests
Press Briefing, 5 December 2002
Opening Remarks By Sir George Young, Chairman of Standards and Privileges Select Committee.
"I am glad of this opportunity to brief you about the Rules which underpin the new Register of MPs’ Interests, published today. The fact that the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and I are holding this joint briefing demonstrates our shared concern to ensure an open, transparent system for regulating Members’ Interests, in which the public can have confidence.
The main purpose of the Register of Members’ Interests is “to provide information of any pecuniary interest or other material benefit which a Member receives which might reasonably be thought by others to influence his or her actions, speeches or votes in Parliament, or actions taken in his or her capacity as a Member of Parliament”. The new Rules focus more precisely on that main purpose.
The aim of the changes in the Rules for registration approved by the House last May, and now embodied in the new Register, is to clarify precisely what is or is not registrable. So, for example, for the first time;
- a clear financial threshold is set for the registration of property interests
- a threshold for the registration of shareholdings is set in terms of their actual rather than their nominal value
- certain benefits to partners as well as spouses are included.
As a result of this renewed focus on the essential purpose of the Register, unremunerated positions are, generally speaking, not registered.
We have also sought to clarify and simplify, wherever possible. This includes:
- setting a normal standard threshold for the registration of gifts and other benefits.
- wherever possible (eg in respect of donations to a Member in support of Parliamentary activities) aligning the House’s requirements with those of the Electoral Commission.
As a result of these changes, the public can see more clearly embodied in the Register those crucial financial interests which may influence a Member. Members can understand more clearly the Rules to which they are subject. Transparency and accountability are thereby increased, to everyone’s benefit.
The Rules relating to the declaration of interests, in proceedings of the House and its Committees, are unchanged, so MPs’ obligations in this respect continue as before."