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Members' Interests

Volume 887: debated on Monday 3 March 1975

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asked the Lord President of the Council when he intends to publish Her Majesty's Government's proposals on the compulsory declaration of Members' outside financial interests.

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
(Mr. Edward Short)

The Government's views on the proposals made last month in the report by the Select Committee on Members' Interests (Declaration) will be made known as soon as possible. If at all possible I shall arrange for a debate on this report before Easter.

Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that when the Government put forward their proposals they will include proposals to make compulsory the declaration of specific amounts of cash that are paid to Members of Parliament in pursuance of outside interests? Will he further extend the provisions to include Lobby correspondents and also the Chamber of Parliament? Unless that is done the proposal will be meaningless.

On the first point, I do not propose to recommend the House to go any further than the Select Committee has proposed. On the second point, the Select Committee is quite free now to consider Lobby journalists or anybody else if it wishes to do so.

Does not the Lord President agree that it would be desirable to discuss the whole question of Members' interests alongside, if not at the same time as, the consideration of the report of the Boyle Committee into Members' remuneration? The two are linked and it would be desirable to consider them as one subject and not completely separately.

That is a point of view that had not occurred to me. I shall consider it. Probably the majority of Members will wish the report on Members' interests to be taken before the report of the Boyle Committee is likely to be available. It may be some months before the Boyle Committee reports, because the committee is carrying out a major review.