Code of Practice
Code of Practice and Register of Interests
Section 1: Public Service Values
1.1. Members of the House of Lords Appointments Commission will at all times observe the highest standards of impartiality, integrity and objectivity in their consideration of all those nominated for life peerages and in their recommendations for non–party political peerages.
1.2. The Commission is committed to an open and transparent nomination and assessment process whilst treating information provided by nominees in confidence except where consent has been given for this to be released.
Standards in Public Life
1.3. All Commission members will
- follow the Seven Principles of Public Life set out by the Committee on Standards in Public Life
- comply with the Commission’s Code of Practice and ensure they understand their duties, rights and responsibilities, and are familiar with the functions and role of the Commission and any relevant statements of Government policy
- not misuse information gained in the course of their public service for personal gain or for political purpose, nor seek to use the opportunity of public service to promote their private interests or those of closely connected persons, firms, businesses or other organisations
Section 2: Role of Commission Members
2.1. Commission members have collective responsibility and will
- engage fully in the collective discharge of their functions and responsibilities, taking into account all relevant factors and information
- operate processes that are open and transparent, regularly placing in the public domain information about the Commission’s activities, and agree an Annual Report, which will be published
- respond appropriately to complaints
2.2. As the independent members of the Commission are required to be politically impartial in their role, they will declare any party political activity they undertake whilst serving on the Commission. Such activity will be made public.
2.3. All Commission members will discuss with the Chairman any offers of other appointments which they receive whilst serving on the Commission or shortly after stepping down which might raise a question about their independence or impartiality as a member of the Commission. The Chairman will consult with Commission members about similar offers of appointment he may receive.
2.4. The Chairman and independent Commission members will be excluded from being nominated as potential life peers, whilst serving on the Commission and for a period of time after stepping down from office – a period perceived to be sufficient to distance the decision regarding their nomination from being related to their contribution or influence as Commission Members.
Role of the Commission Chairman
2.5. The Chairman has a particular responsibility for providing effective leadership and is responsible for
- ensuring that the Commission meets at appropriate intervals and that the minutes of meetings accurately record the decisions taken and, where appropriate, the views of individual Commission members
- representing the views of the Commission to the general public and others
Section 3: Members' Interests
3.1. The Appointments Commission is aware that public scrutiny will rightly focus on members’ direct or indirect interests that may or could be perceived to influence their judgement. It is committed to arrangements that will make clear such interests to the public and which set out how the Commission will ensure fairness in making its recommendations for life peers. The Commission will undertake to do this through two mechanisms, which may be amended in the light of the Commission’s experience.
Register of Interests
3.2. Members will register relevant interests in the Commission’s Register of Interests. These are
- remunerated interests
- unremunerated interest
- registered shareholdings (where these are 1 per cent or more of a company or have a value in excess of £25,000)
- ownership of land and property
- party-political activity
3.3. In addition, the Commission has judged it right to include in their Register of Interests those past interests that may be considered to be relevant, because of personal associations and friendships, and the remunerated and unremunerated interests of close members of their families. In this paragraph, a “relevant” interest (whether direct or indirect, pecuniary or non-pecuniary) means any such interest that might influence the judgement of a Commission member or might be perceived by others to influence his or her judgement in the exercise of his or her public duties.
3.4. A copy of the Register of Interests may be obtained from the Commission’s office at Room G/40, 1 Horse Guards Road, London, SW1A 2HQ, tel: 020 7276 6794.
Declaration of Interests
3.5. In addition, any direct or indirect personal interest in relation to an individual nominee will be declared by the Commission member concerned and formally recorded in the minutes. Direct or indirect personal interests in relation to nominees may include where a Commission member knows a nominee
- as someone with whom the member has, or has had – or in his/her judgement could conceivably have – business or professional dealings
- as a friend or relation
- as an acquaintance, whether through their personal, business or professional life. It will be for the Commission member concerned to judge the degree of the relationship with the nominee. Where there is any doubt, the Commission member will set out in his/her declaration the terms or circumstances of the relationship
3.6. Where a Commission member can reasonably be expected to be aware of similar relationships held by close family members, he or she will declare these.
3.7. A declaration will include a statement as to any gifts or hospitality received by the member concerned from the nominee.
3.8. Following the declaration of a personal interest in relation to a nominee, the Commission will decide, in the light of the nature of the relationship, if the member concerned is to be asked to withdraw from any decision about the nominee. Withdrawal of a member will be recorded in the minutes.
3.9. The Commission’s secretariat and any agents acting on behalf of the Commission will follow the same practice.
Section 4: Personal Liability of Commission Members
4.1. Legal proceedings against individual members of advisory bodies are very exceptional. However, a Commission member may be personally liable if he or she makes a fraudulent or negligent statement that results in a loss to a third party or if he or she misuses information gained through their position. The Government has indicated that individual Commission members who have acted honestly, reasonably, and in good faith and without negligence will not have to meet, out of their own personal resources, any personal civil liability which is incurred in execution or purported execution of the Commission’s functions.