New Code of Conduct for MPs comes into force
A new ban on paid parliamentary advice has been introduced
The new Procedural Protocol in respect of the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament (MPs) came into force on 1 March, which has been approved by the House of Commons. The latest changes to the Code of Conduct aim, amongst other things, to improve transparency, address certain loopholes in the rules, and prohibit paid parliamentary advice to an outside employer.
The Code sets out the expected standards of behaviour for all MPs of the House of Commons, including rules on additional income and the declaration of gifts and personal interests that must be made public on the Register of Members’ interests. The Code also details the process concerning alleged breaches that may be investigated by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, the sanctions available when a breach by an MP has been identified, and the appeals process.
More specifically, the main changes to the Code are: a new outright ban on paid parliamentary advice, which includes providing or agreeing to provide services as a parliamentary adviser, consultant or strategist; a new requirement that MPs have a written contract for any contract work, which details their duties in the role and explicitly states that they cannot lobby for their employer or provide paid parliamentary advice; a tightening of the lobbying rules so that MPs can neither initiate or participate in proceedings or approaches to other officials or Ministers that seek to gain a material benefit for their client who has paid them in the last twelve months; and a closing of the “serious wrong” loophole so that MPs must show that any benefit to their client is incidental to the resolution of a wrong in instances where they want to claim an exemption to approach a Minister or official.
The coming into force of the new Code follows the first substantial review by the Committee on Standards in eight years. Final recommendations by the Committee were published in July 2022, the majority of which were accepted by the government.