Dear House of Commons,

Under FOI I would like to see all the documentation which constitutes 'Parliamentary Protocol'.

I would also like to know how many MPs have breached the Members Code of Conduct in the last 3 years and received reprimand?

Can you also inform me which parliamentary group monitors adherence to the Members Code of Conduct and what, if any, sanctions have been applied by them?

Also, who monitors Parliamentary protocol and what happens if this is breached?

Thank you.

Yours faithfully,

D. Reynolds

FOICOMMONS, House of Commons

Dear D Reynolds

Thank you for your request for information dated 20 August 2013, received by us on the same date.

We will endeavour to respond to your request promptly but in any case within 20 working days i.e. on or before 18 September 2013.

If you have any queries about your request, please use the request number quoted in the subject line of this email.

Yours sincerely

Alistair Duncan | IRIS Support
Information Rights and Information Security (IRIS) Service | House of Commons

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D. Speers left an annotation ()

Will be worth following this FOI!

FOICOMMONS, House of Commons

Dear D Reynolds,
 
 
Freedom of Information Request F13-416
 
Thank you for your request for information copied below. 
 
You asked a number of questions about protocol and Members conduct. We
have sought to answer your queries below.
 

 1. Under FOI I would like to see all the documentation which constitutes
Parliamentary Protocol. 

 
"Parliamentary protocol" can cover a number of matters:

* the Code of Conduct and associated guidance for MPs, which is publicly
available on the Parliamentary Internet at:
[1]http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa...
* the Rules of Procedure, which are contained in the Standing Orders for
Public and Private Business, which can be found respectively at:
[2]http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa... and
[3]http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa....
* Further information can also be found on the Parliamentary website at
[4]http://www.parliament.uk/about/how/ and
[5]http://www.parliament.uk/about/mps-and-l... and in
Erskine May (the authoritative guide to parliamentary procedure) which
is available on request from public libraries.

 

 2. I would also like to know how many MPs have breached the Members Code
of Conduct in the last 3 years and received reprimand? 

and

 3. Can you also inform me which parliamentary group monitors adherence to
the Members Code of Conduct and what, if any, sanctions have been
applied by them?

 
Until January 2013, adherence to the Code of Conduct was investigated by
the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and the Committee on
Standards and Privileges. That Committee has now been split into to the
Committee on Standards, which contains 3 lay members in addition to 10
MPs, and deals with breaches of the Code of Conduct, and the Committee of
Privileges. Each Committee's work is publicly available on the
Parliamentary Internet:
[6]http://www.parliament.uk/business/commit...
or
[7]http://www.parliament.uk/business/commit....
 
Any Member who has breached the Code of Conduct and been reprimanded will
be the subject of a Report from one or other of those Committees. In all
cases, the Committee’s recommendation has been confirmed by the House. The
one exception was the case of Mr Denis MacShane who resigned as an MP
before the Committee Report was debated.
 
In addition, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, who
investigates complaints, may find that minor breaches of the rules have
been committed which are appropriately dealt with by the Member concerned
correcting the matter and apologising; the documentation relating to such
cases is published on the Commissioner's pages here:
[8]http://www.parliament.uk/pcs.
 

 4. Also, who monitors Parliamentary protocol and what happens if this is
breached?

 
Some Parliamentary protocol goes wider than adherence to the Code of
Conduct. Speaking extremely broadly, these rules are about helping
procedures run smoothly and promoting, in so far as possible, respect and
moderation in debate. The Speaker of the House or the occupant of the
Chair is responsible for behaviour in the House or in Committee.  Their
powers to enforce order vary but not only may they reprimand those who do
not adhere to the rules, in extreme cases the Speaker may exclude Members
from the Chamber.
 
While the House is ultimately responsible for its rules, some matters will
be dedicated to officials acting under its authority; for example the
Table Office monitors Parliamentary Questions to ensure that they conform
to the rules set by the House.
 
The Committee on Standards, advised by the Parliamentary Commissioner for
Standards, monitors the rules relating to the Code of Conduct. The
Procedure Committee looks at the rules as it sees fit. Its publications
are publicly available on the Parliamentary web pages here:
[9]http://www.parliament.uk/business/commit....
 
 
You may, if dissatisfied with the handling of your request, complain to
the House of Commons.  Any such complaints should be addressed to: Freedom
of Information Officer, Department of HR and Change, House of Commons
London SW1 0AA or [10][House of Commons request email]. Please ensure that you
specify the nature of your complaint and any arguments or points that you
wish to make.
 
If you remain dissatisfied, you may appeal to the Information Commissioner
at Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF,
[11]www.ico.gov.uk.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
 
 
          
IRIS Officer
Information Rights and Information Security (IRIS) Service | House of
Commons
 
 
 

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Dear FOICOMMONS,

Thank you for your response to my FOI request concerning parliamentary protocol and breaches in the code of conduct. Although you were thorough in the number of links provided, I found none of them to be useful in relation to answering my question.

Are you able to provide a simple list of MPs who have breached the code of conduct and sanctions which have been applied?

I would also be grateful if you could find for me the statement in parliamentary protocol which forbids an MP from entering into correspondence with a member of the public who is not in their constituency.

Many thanks for your continued assistance.

Yours sincerely,

D. Reynolds

FOICOMMONS, House of Commons

Dear D Reynolds,
 
 
Thank you for your email asking for clarification on our response to your
Freedom of Information Request reference F13-416.
 
You asked for a list of MPs who have breached the code of conduct and
sanctions which have been applied.  This information was supplied to you
in our original response which referred to the Commissioner's pages
([1]http://www.parliament.uk/pcs).  For your convenience the following
sub-link is here:
[2]http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-o...
As the information you request is reasonably accessible to you otherwise
than under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 your FOI request is
refused. In refusing your request the House is applying the exemption set
out in section 21 (1) and (2)(a) of the FOI Act.  This is an absolute
exemption and the public interest test does not apply.
 
You also asked for the statement in Parliamentary protocol which forbids
an MP from entering into correspondence with a member of the public who is
not in their constituency.  This narrower question is not one you asked in
your previous request but on this occasion we can advise you that this
information is not held by the House of Commons.  However, related
information is already publicly available on the Parliamentary website
here: [3]http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers...
 
You may, if dissatisfied with the handling of your request, complain to
the House of Commons.  Any such complaints should be addressed to: Freedom
of Information Officer, Department of HR and Change, House of Commons
London SW1 0AA or [4][House of Commons request email]. Please ensure that you
specify the nature of your complaint and any arguments or points that you
wish to make.
 
If you remain dissatisfied, you may appeal to the Information Commissioner
at Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF,
[5]www.ico.gov.uk.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
 
          
IRIS Officer
Information Rights and Information Security (IRIS) Service | House of
Commons
 
 
 

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Dear FOICOMMONS,

Thank you for your helpful reply. The short cut links made it much easier to find the information I had originally requested.

The information on the Commissioner for Standards link raises one or two further questions which I hope you will be able to answer.

In 2011 - 2012, 109 formal complaints were received. Of these only 8 were investigated.

In 2012 - 2013, 117 formal complaints were received. Of these only 8 were investigated/resolved.

The vast majority of complaints not investigated fell into the 'outside remit' category. 81 and 89 respectively.

My question is, if these cases were beyond the remit of the Commissioner for standards, then who did deal with these complaints?

Are there any records of the nature of these 'outside remit' complaints and who they involved? I can find none.

Of the 4 rectified cases from 2011 - 2012 and the 5 rectified cases from 2012 - 2013 which were recorded, none of the MPs received any sanctions apart from the need to apologise and put the record straight.

Is it ever the case that MPs are given stronger sanctions than this?

Where would these cases be recorded?

On the issue of parliamentary protocol preventing an MP from engaging with a member of the public who was not in their constituency, it would appear from the information linked that this is more a 'convention' rather than a strict policy and in fact is not specifically stated in any documents relating to protocol. Indeed one of the comments made by the Commissioner for standards stated that it was permissible for members of the house to use stationery to contact members of the public outside their constituency. It would therefore be more of a 'choice' than a 'requirement' and it would be useful if this could be made clear on the parliamentary website.

I thank you for your help so far and look forward to hearing from you in the near future.

Yours sincerely,

D. Reynolds.

D. Speers left an annotation ()

Thank you for this information Della....its really helpful to have Parliamentary protocol defined for us!

FOICOMMONS, House of Commons

Dear D Reynolds

Thank you for your request for information dated 23rd September 2013, received by us on the same date.

We will endeavour to respond to your request promptly but in any case within 20 working days i.e. on or before 21st October 2013.

If you have any queries about your request, please use the request number quoted in the subject line of this email.

Yours sincerely

Sarah Price
IRIS Support Officer

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FOICOMMONS, House of Commons

Dear D Reynolds,
 
 
Freedom of Information Request F13-465
 
Thank you for your request for further information as copied below.
 
You asked us for details of how formal complaints about Members of
Parliament were dealt with by the Parliamentary Commissioner for
Standards.  We have sought to answer your queries below.
 

 1. If these cases were beyond the remit of the Commissioner for
Standards, then who did deal with these complaints?

 
This information is not held by the House of Commons.  The Commissioner
does not have information about whether the complaints are dealt with
elsewhere. 
 
The leaflet on how to complain about a Member -
[1]http://www.parliament.uk/documents/pcfs/...
- lists the matters which the Commissioner may not investigate and you may
find further helpful information in our annual report for 2012-13 -
[2]http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa....
  She does not publish any other information concerning these complaints. 
The leaflet also makes suggestions as to bodies which may be able to
assist the complainant, or depending on the nature of the complaint, the
Commissioner’s response may include an individual suggestion.  She does
not have information about whether the complaints are dealt with
elsewhere. 
 
When the Commissioner investigates an allegation, the outcome is
published, along with the evidence received. In the past, when the
Commissioner submitted a formal memorandum to the Committee on Standards
and Privileges, that Committee then published its own report on that
complaint, to which the Commissioner’s memorandum was appended. We would
expect the same practice to be followed by the Committee on Standards,
which has taken over this role from the Committee on Standards and
Privileges. You can find past reports of the Committee on Standards and
Privileges via the following webpage:
 [3]http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-o....
 The same page provides links to the Commissioner’s web pages where she
publishes information about other complaints she has investigated,
including those she has resolved informally through the rectification
procedure, and those which she has not upheld.
 

 2. Is it ever the case that MPs are given stronger sanctions than this?

and

 3. Where would these cases be recorded?

 
Stronger sanctions than those used as part of the rectification process
are included in the individual reports of the Committee on Standards -
[4]http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-o...
 
 
You may, if dissatisfied with the handling of your request, complain to
the House of Commons.  Any such complaints should be addressed to: Freedom
of Information Officer, Department of HR and Change, House of Commons
London SW1 0AA or [5][House of Commons request email]. Please ensure that you
specify the nature of your complaint and any arguments or points that you
wish to make.
 
If you remain dissatisfied, you may appeal to the Information Commissioner
at Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF,
[6]www.ico.gov.uk.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
 
          
IRIS Officer
Information Rights and Information Security (IRIS) Service | House of
Commons
 
 

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Dear FOICOMMONS,

Money, money, money. It would appear that the only thing which is ever investigated is how an MP procures money. The leaflet on 'advice for complaining' clearly states that the Commissioner does not investigate complaints regarding the way an MP has handled an individual case presented by a constituent. Presumably all these cases fall into 'out of remit' and then disappear into a black hole.

Your correspondence with me has confirmed what a comfy world MPs live in. They only have to say sorry to put everything right and any serious wrong doing is apparently not investigated at all. Well, it stops all the dirt leaking out into the public domain doesn't it. You must have very deep carpets at the House of Commons with all the muck that has been buried under there.

I will not trouble you further. It is clear for all to see that MPs are basically unaccountable.

Yours sincerely,

D. Reynolds.

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