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Members' Interests

Volume 885: debated on Monday 27 January 1975

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39.

asked the Lord President of the Council whether he will introduce legislation to make it obligatory for Members of Parliament when elected to give up all other forms of paid employment.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that if we get legislation dealing with the publication of a register of Members' interests it will disclose, one assumes, a large number of Members of Parliament, mainly on the Tory side of the House, who have accrued a number of directorships of one kind or another? Does he not feel that the public at large would look more favourably upon the demands of Members of Parliament for increased pay if it were not for the fact that they see from time to time, as instanced in the Stonehouse case, that some Members of Parliament are able to pick up all these sundry directorships after they have been elected to Parliament?

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it in order to refer to a right hon. Member of this House as "Stone-house"? Should the hon. Member not say "the right hon. Member for Walsall, North"?

I think it would be better not to refer to the right hon. Member by name. The hon. Member did say "the Stonehouse case".

Will the Lord President answer the most intriguing question, namely, why it is that 100 Members of a Government, no matter which political party is in power, have to get rid of all these so-called other forms of paid employment—or they are supposed to—while for some unknown reason that ruling does not apply to back-bench Members?

The Select Committee considering the registration of Members' interests reported on 8th January. The Government are still considering the report. I very much hope to bring our proposals to the House before too long. On the second point, when a Member is elected and becomes a Minister there is a clear need to ensure that any decisions he takes will not conflict with any interests he may have outside.

Would not the suggestion of the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) carry more weight if hon. Members enjoyed security of tenure?