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Committee publishes Procedural Protocol to accompany MPs Code of Conduct and final proposals for Guide to the Rules

4 July 2022

The Committee on Standards publishes its proposed Procedural Protocol – bringing together in a single document all the processes for how breaches of the MPs’ Code of Conduct are dealt with.

The protocol was one of the recommendations from the Ryder review of fairness in the House’s system. This review by a distinguished former Appeal Court judge, Sir Ernest Ryder, was commissioned by the Committee in December and published in February. The Committee accepted all of Sir Ernest’s recommendations last month, and set out in detail a plan for implementing them.

The aim of the protocol is to allow the House to endorse a single document setting out its standards procedures in an accessible way, including a new appeals process for MPs who have been found to have breached the Code. The draft version published by the Committee today will form part of the package of proposals for reforming the House’s standards system to be voted on in due course.

The Committee has at the same time published a report with some final clarifications to its proposed Guide to the Rules published last month, this included:

  • A proposal to clarify in the lobbying rules that "financial or material benefit" should be interpreted narrowly, such that a Member’s action would not be considered to be seeking to confer, or having the effect of conferring, a benefit on a person or organisation if that benefit was widely distributed, for example, to an entire sector or sectors.
  • Clarifying that a Member who has accepted a visit or hospitality from a foreign government or NGO may initiate and participate in proceedings on more generally related matters, provided that they fully declare their interest and that their action does not seek to confer, or have the effect of conferring, a financial or material benefit on that government or organisation, beyond the improvement of international relations.
  • Given that Government Ministers have an exemption on lobbying rules to ensure they can carry out their duties in the House, the Committee proposes a similar exemption apply to Members who are frontbench spokespersons for the Official Opposition or the second largest opposition party when initiating or participating in proceedings in that capacity.

Now the final recommendations have been published alongside a draft Procedural Protocol, it is a matter for the Government to schedule time for the House to debate and vote on the Committee’s proposals.

Chair's comment

Chair of the Committee on Standards, Chris Bryant MP, said:

“I urge the Government to bring forward a debate on vote on this package of proposals before the summer recess.

“They are a sensible and balanced set of proposals updating, clarifying and strengthening the Code of Conduct and the processes for cases.

“The Committee will implement immediately any changes to its own practices to make sure they are in line with the Protocol, but the appeal process cannot be implemented without the approval of the House. The sooner we can do this, the better."

Further information

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