Parliamentary Standards

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Owen Patterson How effective are Parliamentary standards?


Case study Revolving door UK Greensill and David Cameron 

Revolving-door syndrome 

House of Commons Reform 

Lobbying the House 

Case Study Policy Networks, professional lobbyists and politicians 

Recall of MPs Act 2015 

The days when MPs were  expected to behave honorably and enforce standards themselves ended in the 1990s with the era of 'Sleaze'. In particular the: Cash for Questions and Expenses scandals led to reforms.

The Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) is an advisory non-departmental public body of the United Kingdom Government, established in 1994 to advise the Prime Minister on ethical standards of public life. It promotes a code of conduct called the Seven Principles of Public Life, also known as the Nolan principles after the first chairman of the committee, Lord Nolan. 

In the House of Commons the Code of Conduct is backed up by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and the Committee on Standards and Privileges. The Commons Select Committee on Standards is appointed by the House of Commons to oversee the work of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. It consists of seven MPs and seven lay members. Lay members, who cannot ever have been members of either house of Parliament, serve a term of six years, which is not ended by a dissolution, and cannot serve a second term. 

The House of Commons may suspend an MP following a report by the Committee. Under the Recall of MPs Act 2015, if the period of suspension is at least 14 calendar days or 10 sitting days, the Speaker informs the constituency's petitions officer, who then orders a recall petition, which may result in the MP losing their seat

 MPs are required to register a wide range of financial interests they may have which are relevant to their parliamentary work. 

The Commissioner oversees the maintenance and monitors the operation of the Register of Members' Interests. The Commissioner receives and investigates complaints about Members who are allegedly in breach of the Code of Conduct and Guide to the Rules and reports the findings to the Committee. 

The work of the Commons Committee on Standards includes deciding on complaints against individual MPs reported to them by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, and oversight of the work of the Commissioner. 

The post was established in 1995  serving the newly formed Committee for Standards and Privileges. Following the cash-for-questions affair.

The second commissioner was Elizabeth Filkin (1999–2002), Her departure was controversial and she was seen to have been forced out. Her term ended but unlike her predecessors and successors she was not offer the opportunity to continue in the role. She had made enemies by investigating MPs and ministers.

The current commissioner, Kathryn Stone OBE, began her tenure on 1 January 2018. The second woman to hold the post and the second commissioner to be openly criticised and pressured to resign.

Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary openly criticised Katheryn Stone following the vote in the Commons to change the process for investigating MPs behaviour. Kwarteng said on TV “It’s difficult to see what the future of the commissioner is, given that we’re reviewing the process, but it’s up to the commissioner.” However, the government then did a U-turn.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) was created by the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009, largely as a response to the parliamentary expenses scandal of 2009. It establishes and monitors the expenses scheme for Members of the House of Commons, and is responsible for paying their salaries and expenses. Following revisions to the Parliamentary Standards Act in April 2010 (via the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010), IPSA was also given responsibility for setting the level of MPs' salaries.