Standards Committee launches inquiry into Code of Conduct for MPs
22 September 2020
The Committee on Standards has announced that it will carry out a comprehensive and far-reaching inquiry into the operation of the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament. It will do this in liaison with the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards who will carry out an independent review of the Code.
Send us your views
The Committee invites written evidence addressing some or all of the questions in the terms of reference below.
The deadline for written submissions is 22 October 2020.
Review of the Code of Conduct and Guide to the Rules
The most recent review of the Code was completed in 2015. For various reasons it was not possible to complete a review of the Code in the two recent short Parliaments, those of 2015-17 and 2017-19. However, the previous Commissioner, Kathryn Hudson, and subsequently an informal sub-committee of the Standards Committee both carried out valuable work which the present inquiry will take fully into account.
The public-facing inquiry by the Committee, to be held in autumn 2020, will be the first stage in a multi-stage process of preparing a new text of the Code for approval by the House. The Committee will work closely with and seek input from the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards during its inquiry.
The stages of the review process include:
- The public evidence sessions which will contribute to the Committee on Standards report
- When the Committee publishes its report, the Commissioner will take up her own review of the Code
- This process will be followed by a public consultation on a revised text of the Code
- The Committee will then propose a final revised text for recommendation to the House
- The review process will also incorporate consideration of possible changes to the Guide to the Rules which will also need to be put before the House for its approval.
Call for evidence
As an initial contribution to this process, the Committee invites written evidence addressing some or all of the following questions:
- What values, attitudes and behaviours should the Code of Conduct for MPs seek to encourage or discourage?
- How successful is the current Code of Conduct in achieving these aims, and in what ways does it need to be changed to do so more effectively?
- How can the Code be made simpler, clearer, more transparent and more readily understood?
- How can the requirements of the Code be communicated better to MPs and to the wider public?
- How far is the Code of Conduct consistent with other codes that have effect within Parliament, that is, the Parliamentary Behaviour Code and the House of Lords Code of Conduct, and are changes to the Code needed to create greater consistency with the other codes?
- What should be learned from the development of the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS) and what can be done to ensure there is no confusion between the two systems operating side by side?
- In what ways does the Ministerial Code complement or undermine the Code of Conduct?
- How should the House’s commitment to tackle racism and discrimination be incorporated in the Code?
- What changes are necessary to the contents and operation of the Guide to the Rules which accompanies the Code?
- The current Code only authorises the Commissioner to investigate breaches of the Rules of Conduct specified in Paragraphs 10 to 17 of the Code – should she be empowered to investigate alleged breaches of the wider Code including the Seven Principles of Public Life?
- Should the remit of the Commissioner as set out in the Guide to the Rules (Chapter 4, paras 21-23) be extended to include any matters currently excluded?
- How can the Code and Guide be effectively enforced?
- How can Member, staff and public confidence in the Code and Guide and in their operation be improved?
- Would any other changes to the present Code and Guide be desirable?
Send us your views.