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Tuesday, 1 May, 2001, 14:01 GMT 15:01 UK
Compulsory anti-sleaze code for Lords
House of Lords
Declaring interests is currently voluntary in the Lords
Members of the House of Lords could be forced to reveal their full financial interests under proposals agreed by a cross-party committee of peers.

A code of conduct and compulsory declaration of paid interests would police the Lords in a similar way to the system already operating in the Commons.


Never accept any financial inducement as an incentive or reward for exercising parliamentary influence

New Lords' code
The plans follow recommendations from the Neill Committee on Standards in Public Life last year.

Bishops and law lords would also be covered by the code, which will now be considerd by the full house.

Tories on the committee have voiced opposition to opening all financial details to public scrutiny - suggesting it would cast suspicion on all outside interests.

Tougher proposals

At present, registration of interests other than parliamentary consultancies and lobbying work is voluntary.

Although the proposals under consideration would be much tougher, penalties for those failing to comply would be limited to a censure.

In the Commons MPs can be suspended without pay.

Lord Neill
Lord Neill's committee recommended the code
Leader of the Lords, Lady Jay, said the new code would bring the upper house into line with the House of Commons and local councils, which already have codes on the declaration of financial interests.

The code of conduct will stipulate that members of the Lords must "never accept any financial inducement as an incentive or reward for exercising parliamentary influence" and must not vote or ask a question in return for "payment or any other material benefit".

The Lords committee was split over whether to introduce even more extensive rules.

These covered the declaration of:

  • remuneration from consultancies for parliamentary matters

  • shareholdings which amount to a controlling interest

  • landholdings

  • financial interests of a friend as well as a spouse or relative.

    Opposition

    The Tory peers who opposed these measures, Lord Elton and Lord Kingsland, said the Commons' code and register had encouraged the habit of "mutual denunciation" and had cast suspicion on all outside interests.

    The Attorney General, Lord Williams, rejected suggestions that the register and sub-committee which would police the code would become "an informal Gestapo".

    He pointed out that peers could exercise considerable influence and had access to ministers.

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    See also:

    16 Nov 00 | UK Politics
    Peers face code of conduct
    26 Jun 00 | UK Politics
    Lords should 'expect public scrutiny'
    04 Apr 00 | UK Politics
    Peers face standards watchdog
    13 Mar 00 | UK Politics
    Lords under anti-sleaze microscope
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