Committee on Standards

38.78The Committee on Standards (see also para 5.4 ) is appointed under Standing Order No 149. The Committee is charged with the consideration of any matter relating to the conduct of Members. In particular, the Committee has responsibility for overseeing the work of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards whose duties (see paras 5.5, 5.21 ff) are described in Standing Order No 150. The Committee examines the arrangements proposed by the Commissioner for the compilation, maintenance and accessibility of the Register of Members' Financial Interests and also of any other registers of interests established by the House (see paras 5.8–5.9 ). The Committee also authorises the publication of the Register at the beginning of a Parliament. However, the Committee has made it clear that it respects the Commissioner's independence and does not seek to direct the Commissioner's operational work.1

On 24 July 1996, the House adopted the predecessor committee's proposals for a Code of Conduct for Members (see para 5.3 ); the House has also authorised the Committee to update the Guide in the light of experience and subsequent decisions of the House.2 An important function of the Committee is to consider any specific complaints against Members which have been referred to it by the Commissioner, either in respect of allegations that a Member has failed to comply with the rules of the House relating to the registration or declaration of interests, or which allege that a Member has otherwise breached the Code of Conduct. The procedure for the consideration of complaints is set out in the Guide to the Rules and is described at para 5.21 ff.

In July 2018, the House approved an Independent Complaints and Grievance Policy and made consequential changes to the Code of Conduct. The House also amended Standing Order No 149 to increase the rights of lay members, by instructing that before dividing on any motion, the Committee on Standards should hold an indicative vote of lay and elected members to ascertain the views on the motion of the committee as a whole and of each member present; and that such a vote should be conducted as if it were a formal division and the result recorded in the committee's formal minutes.3 In December 2018, the Committee on Standards recommended that the House should further increase the elements of independence in its standards system, including by conferring full voting rights on lay members.4

Footnotes

  1. Committee on Standards, Sixth Report of Session 2014–15, The Standards System in the House of Commons, HC 383, para 100.
  2. A revised version of the Code and Guide was adopted by the House on 9 February 2009 and published as HC 735 (2008–09); further revisions to the Code and Guide were made on 12 March 2012 and 17 March 2015, published as HC 1076 (2014–15); further revisions to the Code were made on 19 July 2018, published as HC 1474 (2017–19), and to the Guide on 7 January 2019 (see HC 1882 (2017–19)).
  3. Votes and Proceedings, 19 July 2018.
  4. Committee on Standards, Fifth Report of Session 2017–19, Implications of the Dame Laura Cox report for the House's standards system: Initial proposals, HC 1726.