Code of Conduct and Associated Rules and Guidance for Members of the Senedd

Published 05/01/2021   |   Last Updated 08/10/2021   |   Reading Time minutes

A new Code of Conduct on the Standards of Conduct of Members of the Senedd and associated guidance has taken effect for the beginning of the Sixth Senedd, which was agreed by the Senedd on 24 March 2021. Further information about the development of the new Code is set out in a news article, and a report published by the Standards of Conduct Committee.

The essential purpose of the Code of Conduct is to uphold the reputation of the Senedd and to provide the openness and accountability necessary to reinforce public confidence in the integrity of Members of the Senedd in the way in which they discharge their important public duties and responsibilities.

This Code applies to all Members of the Senedd. Members must comply with it. Further rules on the conduct of Senedd business, including Standing Orders and the Presiding Officer's guidance, can be found here.

The Senedd is committed to dealing effectively with any concerns or complaints. Should you have any concerns about a Member's conduct or wish to make a complaint, please contact the Standards Commissioner. Should you have any concerns relating to the Senedd Commission or wish to make a complaint, please visit our Complaints page.

 

Code of Conduct

Code of Conduct on the Standards of Conduct of Members of the Senedd
  • Last updated: May 2021
  • Owner: Committee responsible for Standards of Conduct
  • Contact: Clerk to the Committee responsible for Standards of Conduct
  • PDF Files

The Code consists of the following three sections and should be considered in its entirety:

 

Part 1 - Introduction and Status of the Code

1. This Code of Conduct (“Code”) comprises:

  • Part 1 Introduction and status of the Code
  • Part 2 Interpretation and Overarching Principles
  • Part 3 Members’ Standards of Personal Conduct

2. The Code establishes the standards of conduct required of Members of the Senedd, and is a Code relating to the conduct of Members of the Senedd for the purposes of the National Assembly for Wales Commissioner for Standards Measure 2009. The Code was adopted by resolution of the Senedd dated 24 March 2021.

3. The conduct of Members during plenary sessions of the Senedd and in committees is normally dealt with by the Llywydd and the chairs of committees through application of the Senedd’s Standing Orders relating to maintaining order during proceedings. If, in the course of dealing with such a matter, the Llywydd or committee chair considers that the conduct requires further or fuller investigation, they may refer the matter to the Senedd Commissioner for Standards.

4. In addition to this Code, Members must comply with the Standing Orders of the Senedd, including its Standing Orders relating to the declaration and registration of financial and other interests and membership of societies. Alleged breaches of these Standing Orders can be referred to the Senedd Commissioner for Standards for investigation. For this reason, the Code does not include a specific Rule on the declaration and registration of such interests.

5. The Senedd Commission may publish from time to time guidance for the assistance of Members and their staff in complying with the Code, and the Senedd Commissioner for Standards may have regard to such guidance in considering any complaint of a failure to comply with the provisions of the Code.

6. The Code applies to Members holding the public office of a Member of the Senedd at all times, including in Members’ personal and private lives.

7. The Code does not apply:

(i) to the Presiding Officer or a committee chair in respect of the exercise of functions conferred by an enactment, the Senedd or by Standing Orders.

(ii) when a Member is acting exclusively in their capacity as First Minister, a Welsh Minister or as Counsel General and their conduct is governed by the Welsh Ministerial Code as defined in section 8(2)(a) of the Measure.

(iii) in relation to the standard of service and outcomes received from a Member.

 

Part 1: Guidance

1. The Code of Conduct for Members of the Senedd (the Code) sets out the Rules and Principles which Members of the Senedd must abide by. It was agreed by the Senedd on 24 March 2021. It is a Member’s personal responsibility to understand their obligations under the Code and act in a way which meets the high standards of conduct required of Members of the Senedd.

2. The Code’s primary purpose is to help and guide Members in maintaining appropriate standards of conduct when performing their role, rather than to restrict Members in the way in which they act. A key feature in the application and enforcement of the Code is to build and maintain public trust and confidence in their elected representatives.

3. Members are responsible for making themselves and their staff aware of the content of the Code and all related guidance and additional information. Members are also expected to take advantage of training- including refresher courses. Ignorance of the Code’s provisions is not a valid reason for breaching them.

4. This guidance (published on 24 March 2021) aims to provide clarity and explanation of the Code for Members, their staff and the public. It has been agreed by the Standards of Conduct Committee and published under paragraph 5 of the Code. Accordingly, it is not enforceable, but the Senedd Commissioner for Standards (‘the Commissioner’) may have regard to this guidance in considering complaints. It applies only to complaints governed by the Code as agreed by the Senedd on 24 March 2021, which came into effect at the commencement of the Sixth Senedd.

5. The purpose of the guidance is to help Members and their staff in understanding their respective obligations and responsibilities under the Code. However, it cannot cover every conceivable circumstance.

6. Members can refer to the Senedd Commissioner for Standards their own failure to comply with the Code (or other relevant provision) but only if the failure to comply is admitted by the Member when the reference is made. It is then for the Senedd Commissioner for Standards to make a formal finding that the matters admitted amount to a failure to comply with the Code.

7. This guidance also aims to help those who may wish to make a complaint about a Member understand whether or not a breach of the Code may have taken place.

The Code’s application to Members’ conduct in plenary and committee meetings

8. The Code states that:

“the conduct of Members during plenary sessions of the Senedd and in committees is normally dealt with by the Llywydd and the chairs of committees through application of the Senedd’s Standing Orders relating to maintaining order during proceedings.”

9. This reflects that while Members must still comply with the Code in such settings, it will normally be for the Llywydd and committee chairs to address any conduct issues arising immediately. However, if in the course of dealing with such a matter, the Llywydd or a committee chair considers that the conduct of a Member requires further or fuller investigation, they may conclude that the Senedd Commissioner for Standards is likely to be better equipped to conduct such an investigation and refer the matter to the Commissioner accordingly. If a person wishes to make a complaint about a Member’s behaviour during a plenary session or in a committee meeting they should direct this (respectively) to the Llywydd or relevant Committee Chair.

The Code’s application to Members’ private lives.

10. The Code states that it:

“applies to Members holding the public office of a Member of the Senedd at all times, including in Members’ personal and private lives.”

11. This provides that the Code applies — and a complaint can be made — in relation to Members’ conduct in any context, regardless of whether it relates to a Member’s public or private life. It also applies to the use of social media.

Determinations by the Llywydd or a Committee Chair

12. The Code states that it does not apply:

“to the Presiding Officer or a committee chair in respect of the exercise of functions conferred by an enactment, the Senedd or by Standing Orders.”

13. The Standing Orders of the Senedd provide that determinations made by the Presiding Officer or a committee chair in respect of certain matters regulated by Standing Orders – which include maintaining order during debate in Plenary sessions or in meetings of Committees –are final. Standing Orders also provide mechanisms for the removal from office by the Senedd of the Presiding Officer or a committee chair. As the Commissioner must conduct investigations in accordance with the provisions of Standing Orders, the effect of these provisions is that the Commissioner cannot investigate complaints about the decisions of the Presiding Officer or a committee chair when acting exclusively in that capacity.

The Code’s application to Ministerial roles

14. The Code states that it:

“does not apply: when a Member is acting exclusively in their capacity as First Minister, a Welsh Minister or as Counsel General and their conduct is governed by the Welsh Ministerial Code as defined in section 8(2)9(a) of the Measure.”

15. This reflects that a complaint about the conduct of a Member who is exclusively acting in their capacity as a Minister (as defined in the Code) cannot be considered by the Senedd Commissioner for Standards and would have to be rejected. However, such complaints may be made under a different code of conduct: the Welsh Ministerial Code. The Welsh Ministerial Code states that the First Minister will refer complaints regarding Ministerial conduct to an Independent Adviser for consideration and advice, unless the First Minister is satisfied that the complaints can be responded to more immediately or routinely (for example where there is an undeniable breach, or where there is no plausible case to answer or complaints are deemed vexatious or trivial in nature).

16. If a person has a complaint that a Welsh Government Minister has breached the Welsh Ministerial Code, they should write to the First Minister at:

Welsh Government
5th Floor
Tŷ Hywel
Cardiff Bay
CF99 1SN

Email: PS.FirstMinister@gov.wales

The Code’s application to Members’ performance

17. The Code states that it does not apply:

“in relation to the standard of service or outcomes received from a Member.”

18. This reflects that the Code does not relate to how ‘effective’ a Member is perceived to be in the performance of their role, whether that be in terms of the regularity with which they hold surgeries, their value as an advocate, or their contributions in plenary and committees.

19. However, the Code does still apply in relation to Members’ conduct when delivering their functions. For example, if a Member used abusive language with a member of the public in the course of conducting a surgery, a complaint could be raised as such conduct is a breach of the Code.

20. In extreme instances a Member ignoring wilfully, without reasonable excuse, a request for assistance might engage the Respect Principle and so Rule 1.

The Code’s application to the declaration and registration of interests

21. The Code states that:

“Members must comply with the Standing Orders of the Senedd, including its Standing Orders relating to the declaration and registration of financial and other interests and membership of societies...For this reason, the Code does not include a specific Rule on the declaration and registration of such interests.”

22. For reference, Standing Orders require that Members must register in the Register of Members’ Interests all relevant interests (as defined in the Annex to Standing Order 2). This is in order to make publicly available what interests might reasonably be thought to influence their actions. Standing Orders also provide for the Recording of the Employment of Family Members with the Support of Commission Funds, Recording Time Involved in Registrable Activities and Recording of Membership of Societies.

23. Detailed guidance on the requirements of such Standing Orders is set out in:

Part 2 - Interpretation and Overarching Principles

8. Members must conduct themselves in accordance with the following Principles (referred to in the Code as “the Overarching Principles”).

Selflessness

Members must take decisions solely in the public interest. They must not do so in order to gain impermissible or improper financial or other material benefits for themselves, or any other person.

Integrity

Members must not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might influence them in the performance of their official duties. Members must at all times conduct themselves in a manner which will not undermine the public's trust and confidence in the integrity of the Senedd and refrain from any action which would bring the Senedd, or its Members generally, into disrepute.

Objectivity

In carrying out their business, Members must make decisions on merit.

Accountability

Members are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions, and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to the public office of Member of the Senedd.

Openness

Members must be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that they take. They must give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only in accordance with statutory requirements, Senedd Standing Orders and Rules binding Members of the Senedd and their staff, or when the wider public interest clearly demands.

Honesty

Members must be truthful, must declare any private interests relating to their public duties and must take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.

Respect

Members must not behave in ways that reduce equality of opportunity, must always respect the dignity of other persons and must not engage in discriminatory or unwanted behaviour.

Leadership

Members must promote and support these Principles by leadership and example, and be willing to challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs.

9. The Standards of Personal Conduct set out in Part 3 of this Code are to be interpreted in accordance with the Overarching Principles and a breach of the Code means a breach of any of the standards set out in part 3 of this Code.

10. In this Code:

(1) “bullying” means offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour; or an abuse or misuse of power in a way that intends to undermine, humiliate, criticise unfairly or injure someone, whether through persistent behaviour or a single grossly unacceptable act;

(2) “discrimination” includes behaviour that discriminates against any person on grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, political opinion and language preference;

(3) “harassment” means unwanted conduct which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for an individual and includes sexual harassment;

(4) “unwanted behaviour” means behaviour which is not encouraged or reciprocated by the recipient, regardless of whether it was meant to cause offence, and whether it is repeated or an isolated incident; and

(5) “the Measure” means the National Assembly for Wales Commissioner for Standards Measure 2009 (nawm 4).

11. In interpreting and applying the definitions of "bullying", harassment", “discrimination" and "unwanted behaviour":

(1) the intention of the person complained about is irrelevant.

(2) the test is whether a reasonable and impartial person would consider the conduct would fall within one of the definitions having regard to the context of the behaviour complained about.

(3) the respective rights under the Human Rights Act 1998 of both the person complained about and the person subject to the conduct in question must be respected.

 

Part 2: Guidance

The relationship of the Code’s Principles and Rules

24. The Code sets out a number of Overarching Principles which express in general terms how Members must behave. Each Principle (Selflessness, Integrity, Objectivity, Accountability, Openness, Honesty, Respect, Leadership) is accompanied by text, which illustrates conduct which that Principle entails. This guidance provides additional commentary on the interpretation and application of the Principles.

25. The Principles inform the specific Rules of conduct set out in Part 3. For example, a failure to uphold the Principle of Respect is likely to be synonymous with a Member breaching one or more of the following Rules:

  • Rule 3: Members must not act or behave in a manner that brings the Senedd or its Members generally, into disrepute.
  • Rule 4: Members must not engage in unwanted behaviour, harassment, bullying, or discrimination.
  • Rule 5: Members must uphold the criminal law. A Member will be regarded as having failed to uphold the criminal law only if they are convicted of, or admit formally, an offence.
  • Rule 6: Members must not subject anyone to personal attack — in any communication (whether verbal, in writing or any form of electronic or other medium) — in a manner that would be considered excessive or abusive by a reasonable and impartial person, having regard to the context in which the remarks were made.

26. In addition, Rule 1 requires Members to uphold the Principles, so it is possible that conduct that does not breach one of the other Rules may still be found to breach one or more of the Overarching Principles, and for this to be in breach of Rule 1.

The Principle of Selflessness

27. The Code states that Members:

“must take decisions solely in the public interest. They must not do so in order to gain impermissible or improper financial or other material benefits for themselves, or any other person.”

28. The Senedd’s Standing Orders set out rules on declaring relevant and registerable interests, and that Members are barred from voting in relation to any interest which is required to be registered or declared where the decision is likely to give rise to a direct financial advantage to the Member which is greater than that accruing to the electorate generally (except in terms of a committee chair utilising a casting vote ).

29. This approach may usefully be applied in relation to any other decisions taken by Members in the course of their public duties, or in the interaction of their public and private lives. Further information can be found at Guidance for Members of the Senedd on the registration, declaration and recording of financial and other interests.

The Principle of Integrity

30. The Code states that:

“Members must not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might influence them in the performance of their official duties.”

31. The interpretation of Members’ official duties is wide-ranging and means any activity in relation to business in the Senedd and constituency or regional business arising from their election as a Member. It includes, for example, undertaking casework, voting, deliberating on the content of committee reports, raising questions, promoting matters (including on social media), etc. Such decisions must not be taken in return for payment or other material benefit.

32. The Code also states that:

“Members must at all times conduct themselves in a manner which will not undermine the public's trust and confidence in the integrity of the Senedd and refrain from any action which would bring the Senedd, or its Members generally, into disrepute.”

33. The issue of bringing the Senedd into disrepute is also addressed in the Code specifically by Rule 3:

“Members must not act or behave in a manner that brings the Senedd or its Members generally, into disrepute.”

The Principle of Objectivity

34. The Code states that:

“In carrying out their business, Members should make decisions on merit.”

35. This includes, for example, decisions in relation to making public appointments, or in relation to recommending individuals for awards, honours, or other benefits.

The Principle of Accountability

36. The Code states that:

“Members are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions, and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to the public office of Member of the Senedd.”

37. The nature of such scrutiny is potentially wide-ranging and may vary in relation to different circumstances. It would, for example, include enabling the publication of expense claims and keeping appropriate records as required by any rules. It may also include co-operation with any investigations that relate to Members’ decisions and actions (for example by the Senedd Commissioner for Standards, Senedd Committees, Senedd Commission, etc.).

The Principle of Openness

38. The Code states that:

“Members must be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only in accordance with statutory requirements, Senedd Standing Orders and Rules binding Members of the Senedd and their staff, or when the wider public interest clearly demands.”

39. The Principle of Openness does not provide for unjustified disclosure of confidential and/or protectively marked information. Members must follow Rules 14 and 15 in relation to requests for information and disclosure of information.

The Principle of Honesty

40. The Code states that:

“Members must be truthful, must declare any private interests relating to their public duties and must take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.”

41. Members must not make statements which they know — or ought to have known — to be false. Members may be held to account through the standards procedure for making false statements, for not taking reasonable and prudent steps to check the correctness of statements and assertions and for not taking timely and appropriate steps to rectify inaccuracies or mistakes. Guidance on the requirement that Members declare any private interests relating to their public duties and take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest is set out at Guidance for Members on the registration, declaration and recording of financial and other interests.

The Principle of Respect

42. The Code states that:

“Members must not behave in ways that reduce equality of opportunity, must always respect the dignity of other persons and must not engage in discriminatory or unwanted behaviour.”

43. The Code defines discrimination as including:

“behaviour that discriminates against any person on grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, political opinion and language preference.”

44. This requirement relates to all forms of unlawful discrimination, including:

  • direct discrimination: treating people differently on the grounds set out in the definition;
  • indirect discrimination: treatment which does not appear to differentiate between people (on the grounds set out in the definition), but which disproportionately disadvantages them; and
  • victimisation: treating a person less favourably because they have complained of discrimination, brought proceedings for discrimination, or been involved in complaining about or bringing proceedings for discrimination.

45. The Code’s requirement that Members must respect the dignity of other persons, is nuanced by the right to freedom of expression, which is enshrined in Article 10.1 of the European Convention on Human Rights (‘the Convention’). Case law on freedom of expression under Article 10 in the context of statements by elected representatives has previously been summarised in Heesom v Public Service Ombudsman for Wales:

ii) Article 10 protects not only the substance of what is said, but also the form in which it is conveyed. Therefore, in the political context, a degree of the immoderate, offensive, shocking, disturbing, exaggerated, provocative, polemical, colourful, emotive, non-rational and aggressive, that would not be acceptable outside that context, is tolerated… Whilst, in a political context, article 10 protects the right to make incorrect but honestly made statements, it does not protect statements which the publisher knows to be false.

iii) Politicians have enhanced protection as to what they say in the political arena; but Strasbourg also recognises that, because they are public servants engaged in politics, who voluntarily enter that arena and have the right and ability to respond to commentators (any response, too, having the advantage of enhanced protection), politicians are subject to "wider limits of acceptable criticism". They are expected and required to have thicker skins and have more tolerance to comment that ordinary citizens.

iv) Enhanced protection therefore applies, not only to politicians, but also to those who comment upon politics and politicians, notably the press; because the right protects, more broadly, the public interest in a democracy of open discussion of matters of public concern. Thus, so far as freedom of speech is concerned, many of the cases concern the protection of, not a politician's right, but the right of those who criticise politicians.

v) The protection goes to "political expression"; but that is a broad concept in this context. It is not limited to expressions of or critiques of political views, but rather extends to all matters of public administration and public concern including comments about the adequacy or inadequacy of performance of public duties by others. The cases are careful not unduly to restrict the concept; although gratuitous personal comments do not fall within it. (emphasis added)

vi) The cases draw a distinction between fact on the one hand, and comment on matters of public interest involving value judgment on the other. As the latter is unsusceptible of proof, comments in the political context amounting to value judgments are tolerated even if untrue, so long as they have some – any – factual basis. What amounts to a value judgment as opposed to fact will be generously construed in favour of the former; and, even where something expressed is not a value judgment but a statement of fact (e.g. that a council has not consulted on a project), that will be tolerated if what is expressed is said in good faith and there is some reasonable (even if incorrect) factual basis for saying it, "reasonableness" here taking account of the political context in which the thing was said.

vii) As article 10(2) expressly recognises, the right to freedom of speech brings with it duties and responsibilities. In most instances, where the State seeks to impose a restriction on the right under article 10(2), the determinative question is whether the restriction is "necessary in a democratic society". This requires the restriction to respond to a "pressing social need", for relevant and sufficient reasons; and to be proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued by the State.

viii) As with all Convention rights that are not absolute, the State has a margin of appreciation in how protects the right of freedom of expression and how it restricts that right. However, that margin must be construed narrowly in this context: "There is little scope under article 10(2) of the Convention for restrictions on political speech or on debate on questions of public interest.

ix) Similarly, because of the importance of freedom of expression in the political arena, any interference with that right (either of politicians or in criticism of them) calls for the closest scrutiny by the court.

46. As such, the Principle of Respect does not mean Members cannot participate in robust debate with political opponents or others. Criticism of opposing ideas and opinions is part of democratic debate, but this should not transcend into personal abuse.

47. This nuance is reflected in Rule 6, which requires that:

“Members must not subject anyone to personal attack — in any communication (whether verbal, in writing or any form of electronic or other medium) — in a manner that would be considered excessive or abusive by a reasonable and impartial person, having regard to the context in which the remarks were made.”

48. It may be noted that the Code defines bullying as:

“offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour; or an abuse or misuse of power in a way that intends to undermine, humiliate, criticise unfairly or injure someone, whether through persistent behaviour or a single grossly unacceptable act.”

49. This would not include actions such as a Member robustly challenging or questioning policy, scrutinising performance, or otherwise performing their role of holding the Welsh Government to account.

50. Bullying can take place both ‘face to face’ and through print and electronic media. The standards of behaviour expected are the same, regardless of how a Member is expressing themselves.

The Principle of Leadership

51. The Code states that:

“Members must promote and support these Principles by leadership and example, and be willing to challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs.”

52. Members must uphold the Principles and comply with the Code when challenging poor behaviour.

53. Circumstances and context may be particularly important in considering the requirement to challenge poor behaviour. For example, if a Member were present while another Member made attacks that were personal, racist, sexist (etc.), towards a member of staff or the public, it would normally be anticipated that the Member would directly challenge such behaviour. However, if the Member had cause to be concerned that directly intervening in a particular situation would compromise their personal safety, a reasonable response might be to bring it to another person’s attention, in order to address the situation.

Part 3 - Members’ Standards of Personal Conduct

12. Members must abide by the following Rules of conduct:

Rule 1

Members must uphold the Overarching Principles.

Rule 2

Members must act truthfully.

Rule 3

Members must not act or behave in a manner that brings the Senedd or its Members generally, into disrepute.

Rule 4

Members must not engage in unwanted behaviour, harassment, bullying, or discrimination.

Rule 5

Members must uphold the criminal law. A Member will be regarded as having failed to uphold the criminal law only if they are convicted of, or admit formally, an offence.

Rule 6

Members must not subject anyone to personal attack — in any communication (whether verbal, in writing or any form of electronic or other medium) — in a manner that would be considered excessive or abusive by a reasonable and impartial person, having regard to the context in which the remarks were made.

Rule 7

Members must resolve any conflict that arises between their private interests and the public interest at once, and in favour of the public interest.

Rule 8

Members must comply with the rules made from time to time by the Clerk and Chief Executive of the Senedd as Principal Accounting Officer of the Senedd Commission on the use of resources provided to Members by the Senedd Commission.

Rule 9

Members must not misuse payments, allowances or resources made available to them under a determination of the Independent Remuneration Board of the Senedd.

Rule 10

Members must not accept any financial inducement, gift, hospitality or other benefit as an incentive or reward for carrying out their functions as a Member of the Senedd, for influencing proceedings in the Senedd, or which might otherwise appear to a reasonable and impartial person to influence, or potentially influence, their actions as a Member, save to the extent that acceptance is in accordance with provision made in Standing Orders.

Rule 11

Members must not use or attempt to use their position as a Member to confer an advantage or preferential treatment for either themselves or any other person, or to avoid disadvantage or create disadvantage for someone else.

Rule 12

Members must be open and transparent with other Members, officials of the Senedd Commission and officials of any other public body or authority, in disclosing any activities undertaken in relation to, or undertaken on behalf of, an individual or organisation with which a Member has a financial relationship, including activities which may not be a matter of public record such as informal meetings and functions.

Rule 13

Members must not act in a way which improperly interferes, or is intended or is likely to improperly interfere, with the performance by the Senedd or a Senedd committee of its functions, or the performance of their duties by a Member, any Member’s staff or officials and staff of the Senedd Commission, or the duties of the Senedd Commissioner for Standards.

Rule 14

Members must not engage in behaviour that could reasonably be perceived as applying pressure to individuals to:

(i) compromise the political impartiality of the Senedd Commission or Civil Service;

(ii) breach the Senedd Commission Staff Code of Conduct;

(iii) breach the Civil Service Code;

(iv) breach the Support Staff Code of Conduct; nor

(v) handle requests for information other than as indicated by the Senedd Code of Practice on Public Access to Information.

Rule 15

Members must, in relation to the disclosure of information:

(i) that is confidential or otherwise protectively marked, only disclose it when authorised to do so by the person or authority controlling the information or when disclosure is required or permitted by law;

(ii) only use information received in confidence in their capacity as a Member of the Senedd and not use, or attempt to use, such information for any malicious purpose or the purposes of financial or any other personal advantage; and

(iii) not prevent any person from gaining access to information as permitted by law.

Rule 16

Members must not encourage another Member to contravene any of these Standards of Personal Conduct, including the Rules in relation to standards complaints and investigations.

Rule 17

Members must co-operate at all times with the Senedd Commissioner for Standards in the conduct of any investigation and any subsequent consideration of the complaint by the Senedd Standards of Conduct Committee.

Rule 18

Members must comply with the procedures for the investigation of complaints against Members.

Rule 19

Members must not disclose details in relation to:

(i) any investigation by the Senedd Commissioner for Standards except when authorised by law to do so, or by the Senedd Commissioner for Standards or other investigatory authority; nor

(ii) the proceedings of the Senedd’s Standards of Conduct Committee in relation to a complaint unless authorised by law to do so, or by the Committee.

Rule 20

Members must not lobby a member of the Senedd Standards of Conduct Committee, or the Senedd Commissioner for Standards, or their staff, in a manner calculated or intended to improperly influence their consideration of whether a breach of the Code of Conduct has occurred, or in relation to the imposition of a sanction.

Rule 21

Members must not seek to influence, encourage, induce or attempt to induce, a person making a complaint in an investigation to withdraw or amend their complaint, or any witness or other person participating in a complaint to withdraw or alter their evidence.

Rule 22

Members must not misrepresent any recommendation made by the Senedd Standards of Conduct Committee in relation to any complaint it has considered, or any findings or report of the Senedd Commissioner for Standards.

Rule 23

Members must not make frivolous, vexatious or manifestly unfounded complaints to the Senedd Commissioner for Standards.

Rule 24

Members must take reasonable measures to ensure that their staff, when acting on their behalf, also uphold and act in accordance with these Rules and the Overarching Principles.

 

Part 3: Guidance

Rule 1

54. The Code states at Rule 1 that:

“Members must uphold the Overarching Principles.”

55. Rule 1 should be relied upon in making a complaint only where there is no more appropriate rule. In making a complaint about the conduct of a Member the other specific rules should be considered in the first instance.

56. If the complaint is nevertheless framed under Rule 1 then it should, like all complaints, set out the specific conduct complained of, and should be supported by evidence of the alleged contravention.

57. Complaints that are frivolous, vexatious or non-specific are likely to be held to be inadmissible.

Rule 2

58. The Code states at Rule 2 that:

“Members must act truthfully.”

59. A white lie (e.g. claiming to be ’fine’ when a Member is actually tired) or some other minor lack of truthfulness, would not be regarded as a breach of this Rule. Equally, while Members are expected to reasonably fact-check and verify their assertions, it is inevitable that sometimes ‘incorrect, but honestly-made,’ statements will occur. For instance, a Member might inadvertently misquote a financial figure (“£60,000” rather than “£600,000”). Provided the Member has corrected the error at the earliest opportunity, complaints of such nature are likely to be considered frivolous or vexatious.

60. A complaint would normally be based upon an alleged lie. Amongst other things, the substantiveness of the consequences of a lie are likely to be a factor in the determination of a sanction for such behaviour.

Rule 3

61. The Code states at Rule 3 that:

“Members must not act or behave in a manner that brings the Senedd, or its Members generally, into disrepute.”

62. This gives particular effect to the Principle of Integrity. The interpretation of matters that may bring the Senedd into disrepute, in the mind of a reasonable and impartial person, is potentially wide-ranging. Previous examples have included uses of inappropriate and/or abusive language and/or imagery, physical and verbal aggression, criminal conviction and a lack of adequate care and oversight in the use of Senedd resources.

Rule 4

63. The Code states at Rule 4 that:

“Members must not engage in unwanted behaviour, harassment, bullying, or discrimination.”

64. Definitions of unwanted behaviour, harassment, bullying, and discrimination are set out in paragraph 8 of the Code. This Rule gives particular effect to the Principle of Respect.

Rule 5

65. The Code states at Rule 5 that:

“Members must uphold the criminal law. A Member will be regarded as having failed to uphold the criminal law only if they are convicted of, or admit formally, an offence.”

66. It may be noted that findings of inappropriate behaviour can in themselves also constitute criminal offences, such as criminal harassment, common assault, or sexual assault.

67. This Rule also covers other instances where criminal law has been breached: for example, if a Member is convicted or cautioned for a public order offence. In the event that there is insufficient evidence for a charge or caution, then a Member will not be considered to have breached this Rule.

Rule 6

68. The Code states at Rule 6 that Members:

“must not subject anyone to personal attack — in any communication (whether verbal, in writing or any form of electronic or other medium) — in a manner that would be considered excessive or abusive by a reasonable and impartial person, having regard to the context in which the remarks were made.”

69. As previously noted, in relation to the Principle of Respect, there are circumstances in which a ‘personal attack’ will not be considered to be a breach of the Code, because it is not considered excessive or abusive within a political context. However, political context is not ‘carte blanche’ for any form of personal attack.

70. The purpose of this Rule is to address cases of egregious attack, and gives effect to the Principle of Respect. The application of the Rule has to be balanced against the strong protection of the right to freedom of expression under article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

71. The application of the Rule takes account of the approach adopted in the case of Calver, R (On the Application Of) v Adjudication Panel for Wales, where it was stated that:

“the more egregious the conduct, the easier it is likely to be for the panel, and for the court, to undertake the balancing that is required and justifiably to conclude that what was said or done falls within one of the exceptions to freedom of expression under common law, statute or the Convention. If the conduct is less egregious, it is likely to be more difficult to do this.”

Rule 7

72. The Code states at Rule 7 that Members:

“must resolve any conflict that arises between their private interests and the public interest at once, and in favour of the public interest.”

73. Detailed guidance for Members of the Senedd on the registration, declaration and recording of financial and other interests is accessible at Guidance for Members on the registration, declaration and recording of financial and other interests.

Rule 8

74. The Code states at Rule 8 that:

“Members must comply with the rules made from time to time by the Clerk and Chief Executive of the Senedd as Principal Accounting Officer of the Senedd Commission on the use of resources provided to Members by the Senedd Commission.”

75. These are currently set out at Rules and Guidance on the Use of Senedd Resources.

76. In particular, it may be noted that Members are accountable for the use of any resources made available to them, including use by any persons they allow to access such resources.

Rule 9

77. The Code states at Rule 9 that Members must:

“not misuse payments, allowances or resources made available to them under a determination of the Independent Remuneration Board of the Senedd.”

78. Members are entitled to resources to employ staff and run offices in their constituencies so that they can deal with issues and cases raised by the people they represent. They are also entitled to be reimbursed for expenses incurred when it has been necessary to stay away from their main home overnight when carrying out official Senedd duties.

79. The rules surrounding what Members are entitled to claim for are contained within the Independent Remuneration Board of the Senedd’s Determination on Members' Pay and Allowances, accessible at Members' Pay and Expenses.

80. From 1 April 2019, Members have not been able to claim an allowance for funding the salaries of family members. Any family members who were employed before this date may continue to be employed until the end of the Sixth Senedd. During this period, the contracts of existing family members may not be enhanced by the employing Member (i.e. no increase in hours or promotion). Further information can be found at Guidance for Members of the Senedd on the recording of the employment of family members with the support of commission funds.

Rule 10

81. The Code states at Rule 10 that Members must:

“not accept any financial inducement, gift, hospitality or other benefit as an incentive or reward for carrying out their functions as a Member of the Senedd, for influencing proceedings in the Senedd, or which might otherwise appear to a reasonable and impartial person to influence, or potentially influence, their actions as a Member, save to the extent that acceptance is in accordance with provision made in Standing Orders.”

82. This is the ‘no paid advocacy rule’ and also includes ‘payment in kind,’ whereby a person might offer the Member a non-financial favour in return for influencing proceedings in the Senedd, or otherwise carrying out their functions as a Member of the Senedd (e.g. meeting with a Minister to discuss a particular issue). Proceedings in the Senedd include voting on any piece of legislation, raising any question in committee or plenary, or otherwise promoting any matter. Detailed guidance for Members of the Senedd on the registration, declaration and recording of financial and other interests is accessible at Guidance for Members on the registration, declaration and recording of financial and other interests.

Rule 11

83. The Code states at Rule 11 that:

“Members must not use or attempt to use their position as a Member to confer an advantage or preferential treatment for either themselves or any other person, or to avoid disadvantage or create disadvantage for someone else.”

84. This does not mean that a Member cannot highlight the particular situation of an individual, as a means to illustrate a wider issue of public policy. A comparison may be drawn between this Rule and the threshold of the bar on voting set out in Standing Orders, which provides that a Member cannot vote:

“if a particular decision in those proceedings might result in a direct financial advantage to the Member, or, to the Member’s knowledge, the Member’s partner or any dependent child of the Member, greater than that which might accrue to the electorate generally.”

85. This requirement in Standing Orders does not prevent a Member who is- for example- an arable farmer, from voting on matters related to arable farming (provided they have declared that relevant interest before participating in the proceedings or voting). Rather, it prevents the Member from voting on matters related to arable farming where the results of the decision would have specific benefits for that Member compared to other arable farmers. In the same fashion, a Member could highlight the situation of a constituent awaiting a particular form of medical surgery, as a means to press a Minister on a wider issue of waiting times. In doing so the Member would not be seeking to gain preferential treatment for their constituent, but rather highlighting the needs of all such persons awaiting that treatment and ensuring their constituent has not been unfairly treated.

Rule 13

86. The Code states at Rule 13 that:

“Members must not act in a way which improperly interferes, or is intended or is likely to improperly interfere, with the performance by the Senedd or a Senedd committee of its functions, or the performance of their duties by a Member, any Member’s staff or officials and staff of the Senedd Commission, or the duties of the Senedd Commissioner for Standards.”

87. For example, this would include leaking confidential briefing notes from a committee or a draft committee report (which would also engage Rule 15, as such documents are protectively marked).

Rule 14

88. The Code states at Rule 14 that:

“Members must not engage in behaviour that could reasonably be perceived as applying pressure to individuals to:

(i) compromise the political impartiality of the Senedd Commission or Civil Service;

(ii) breach the Senedd Commission Staff Code of Conduct;

(iii) breach the Civil Service Code;

(iv) breach the Support Staff Code of Conduct; nor

(v) handle requests for information other than as indicated by the Senedd Code of Practice on Public Access to Information.”

89. It is not anticipated that Members will be familiar with these Codes in detail, and officials will ultimately have responsibility for determining whether a particular request or behaviour from a Member could compromise their political impartiality. However, where an official has indicated that a relevant Code or their political impartiality would prevent them from doing something (or require them to do something), a Member must not apply pressure to influence their decision or otherwise induce a change of position.

Rule 15

90. The Code states at Rule 15 that:

“Members must, in relation to the disclosure of information:

(i) that is confidential or otherwise protectively marked, only disclose it when authorised to do so by the person or authority controlling the information or when disclosure is required or permitted by law;

(ii) only use information received in confidence in their capacity as a Member of the Senedd and not use, or attempt to use, such information for the purposes of financial or any other personal advantage; and

(iii) not prevent any person from gaining access to information as permitted by law.”

91. Members should be aware that any information that they process may be released to individuals or into the wider public domain in accordance with legislation and the Senedd Code of Practice on Public Access to Information.

92. The requirements set out in Rule 15 also apply after a Member ceases to be a Member of the Senedd.

Rule 16

93. The Code states at Rule 16 that:

“Members must not encourage another Member to contravene any of these Standards of Personal Conduct, including the Rules in relation to standards complaints and investigations.”

94. The determination of whether a Member encouraged another will be based upon whether an impartial and reasonable person would perceive their behaviour as directly encouraging a contravention, regardless of whether the Code is specifically referenced. Subject to context and circumstances, indirect encouragement is less likely to be considered a breach of the Code.

Rules associated with the Senedd’s Standards regime (Rules 17-24)

95. Any allegations of non-compliance with the Code will follow the process set out in the Procedure for dealing with complaints against Members, as approved by the Senedd’s Committee on Standards of Conduct.

96. Information on the role of the Senedd Commissioner for Standards, including contact details can be found at The Senedd Commissioner for Standards.

97. Rules 17-24 cover the conduct of Members in relation to the code and the Standards process. Members must engage with the process and cannot seek to delay or undermine it. These Rules have a key role in upholding public trust in the process, and a failure to uphold them may aggravate any sanctions applied in relation to particular complaints.

98. The Code states at Rule 17 that:

“Members must co-operate at all times with the Senedd Commissioner for Standards in the conduct of any investigation and any subsequent consideration of a complaint by the Senedd Standards of Conduct Committee.”

99. It is not permissible, for example, for a Member to refuse an informal request for interview with the Senedd Commissioner for Standards, ask other persons to not co-operate with an investigation, destroy or otherwise refuse to provide papers, e-mails, or any other documentation which the Commissioner asks the Member to provide.

100. Notably, sections 11, 12 and 15 of the National Assembly for Wales Commissioner for Standards measure 2009 give the Senedd Commissioner for Standards powers to require any person to attend before the Commissioner to give evidence, or to produce documents (in any form) relevant to an investigation. The Senedd Commissioner for Standards can enforce these powers by formal notice (including notice to a Member). Failure to obey such a notice without reasonable excuse constitutes a criminal offence punishable by up to six months imprisonment, or a level 5 fine (unlimited), or both.

101. The Code states at Rule 19 that:

“Members must not disclose details in relation to: any investigation by the Senedd Commissioner for Standards except when authorised by law to do so, or by the Senedd Commissioner for Standards or other investigatory authority.”

102. This would include, for example, any account of interviews that they may have had with the Senedd Commissioner for Standards, any detail of the Commissioner’s report, any account of giving evidence to the Senedd Standards of Conduct Committee, etc.

103. The Code states at Rule 20 that:

“Members must not lobby a member of the Senedd Standards of Conduct Committee, or the Senedd Commissioner for Standards, or their staff, in a manner calculated or intended to improperly influence their consideration of whether a breach of the Code of Conduct has occurred, or in relation to the imposition of a sanction.”

104. This includes direct lobbying through conversations, e-mails, etc. It could potentially also include indirect lobbying- for example, making comments on social or mainstream media that were calculated to influence such consideration.

105. The Code states at Rule 21 that:

“Members must not seek to influence, encourage, induce or attempt to induce, a person making a complaint in an investigation to withdraw or amend their complaint, or any witness or other person participating in a complaint to withdraw or alter their evidence.”

106. In combination with Rule 24, this also precludes a Member seeking such via their staff.

107. Finally, the Code states at Rule 24 that:

“Members must take reasonable measures to ensure that their staff, when acting on their behalf, also uphold and act in accordance with these Rules and the Overarching Principles.”

108. To achieve this, it is anticipated that Members will encourage, or require, their staff to undertake training — including refresher courses. However, Members are ultimately responsible for making themselves and their staff aware of the content of the Code and all related guidance and additional information. Ignorance of the Code’s provisions is not a valid reason for breaching them.

109. It is not permissible for a Member to seek to bypass the Code, by asking their staff to undertake actions that the Code would prevent them from undertaking themselves.

 

Rules and Guidance

Guidance for Members of the Senedd on the registration, declaration and recording of financial and other interests
  • Last updated: March 2021
  • Owner: Committee responsible for Standards of Conduct
  • Contact: Head of the Table Office
  • PDF Files

This Guidance consists of the following nine sections and should be considered in its entirety:

 

1. Introduction

1. The purpose of this guidance is to assist Members of the Senedd to fulfil their duties and obligations in relation to the registration, declaration and recording of financial and other interests, as set out under Section 36 of the Government of Wales Act 2006 ('the 2006 Act') and the Standing Orders of the Welsh Parliament. It also includes details of interests that must be reported separately by Members to the Electoral Commission.

2. This guidance is not, however, a substitute for the 2006 Act or the Standing Orders of the Welsh Parliament, which Members must comply with when first registering and subsequently reviewing their interests and memberships and declaring and recording them. Please note also that no written guidance can provide for all circumstances, and the examples included in this guidance should not be regarded as constituting an exhaustive list.

3. This guidance does not cover the rules relating to the employment of family members or the rules on the involvement of Members in lobbying for reward or consideration. These are available separately in the Guidance for Members of the Senedd on the Recording of the Employment of Family Members with the Support of Commission Funds and the Guidance on Lobbying and Access to Member of the Senedd.

4. References in this guidance to Senedd proceedings means any proceedings of the Senedd, any committee of the Senedd or a sub-committee of such a committee.

2. Background and Statutory Framework

5. Section 36 of the 2006 Act requires the Standing Orders of the Welsh Parliament to include provision for a Register of Members' Interests and for that register to be published and made available to the public. The Act also specifies the particular categories of interests which must be dealt with by the Standing Orders of the Welsh Parliament. The 2006 Act in addition requires Members to orally declare financial and other interests (which must be set out in the Standing Orders) before taking part in Senedd proceedings relating to that matter. These provisions are currently set out in Standing Order 2, the Annex to Standing Order 2 and Standing Orders 13.8A and 17.24A, the main elements of which are:

  • 2.1 - registration of interests in a register which is open for public inspection;
  • 2.6 - declaration of registrable interests before a Member takes part in any Senedd proceedings;
  • 2.9 - a bar on voting in relation to any interest which is required to be registered or declared where the decision is likely to give rise to a direct financial advantage to the Member which is greater than that accruing to the electorate generally;
  • 13.8A and 17.24A – declaration of relevant interests at the appropriate time during any Senedd proceedings.

6. These provisions are explored in detail in Chapter 5.

7. In addition to the requirements set out under Standing Order 2, Members must also record certain other interests as specified in Standing Orders 3, 4, and 5. Further information about these requirements are included in Chapter 8 of this guidance.

8. In accordance with Standing Order 22.2, supervisory responsibility for compiling, maintaining and ensuring the accessibility of the Register and any associated guidance rests with a responsible committee (currently the Senedd's Standards of Conduct Committee). Further information about the role of the Responsible Committee is included in Section 3.2.

9. In addition to the duties set out in the 2006 Act and in the Senedd's Standing Orders, Members also have statutory obligations to check, record and report certain interests directly to the Electoral Commission, as set out in the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 ('the PPERA 2000') and, if they are constituency candidates, to report donations towards their election campaign spending under the National Assembly for Wales (Representation of the People) Order 2007 ('the 2007 Order'). Further information about these requirements is set out in Chapter 6.

3. Failure to comply and complaints procedure

10. The responsibility for ensuring compliance with Standing Orders 2 to 5 rests with individual Members of the Senedd alone, although advice may be sought from the Presiding Officer, the Chief Executive and Clerk to the Senedd or the Registrar of Members' Interests (through the Senedd's Table Office). It is, therefore, appropriate for this guidance to outline the arrangements for enforcement and penalty in cases of non-compliance.

3.1. What happens if you don't comply with the rules?

11. Section 36(7) of the 2006 Act makes it an offence for a Member to take part in any proceedings without having complied with the requirements set out in Standing Order 2.

12. A Member who is guilty of such an offence is liable on summary conviction to a fine of up to level 5 on the standard scale. Prosecutions relating to non-compliance with Standing Orders may only be instituted by, or with the consent of, the Director of Public Prosecutions.

13. A protocol for dealing with complaints about a contravention of section 36(7) of the Act has been agreed between the Senedd, the Commissioner for Standards and the Director of Public Prosecutions. The protocol forms part of the Code of Conduct for Members of the Senedd and Associated Documents.

3.2. Role of the 'Responsible Committee'

14. Standing Order 22 sets out the role of the Responsible Committee (currently the Senedd's Standards of Conduct Committee) in relation to the matters dealt within this guidance. The primary role of the Committee is to investigate, report on and, if appropriate, recommend action in respect of any complaint referred to it by the Commissioner for Standards. Following the submission of a report to the Responsible Committee in relation to a failure to comply with the relevant Standing Orders of the Welsh Parliament or any Senedd resolution relating to the financial or other interests of Members, the Senedd may resolve to exclude a Member for a specified period, withdraw any rights and privileges from a Member, or to censure him or her.

15. During the period for which the Member is excluded the Member is not entitled to receive any salary from the Senedd and is not permitted to attend the Senedd or any of its committees or sub-committees. Under Standing Order 22.10(ii) the Responsible Committee may choose to remove any other rights and privileges of Membership of the Senedd, as set out in the procedures for the investigation of complaints established under Standing Order 22.2(iv). These sanctions are in addition to the possibility of prosecution under section 36(7) of the 2006 Act.

3.3. Complaint procedures

16. The arrangements for complaints against Members of the Senedd are set out in the Senedd Procedure for Dealing with Complaints Against Members of the Senedd, which is available on the Senedd and Commissioner for Standards' website.

17. The Senedd's Commissioner for Standards must carry out a preliminary investigation of any complaint about the conduct of Members of the Senedd. Complaints, whether from Members of the Senedd or from members of the public, should be addressed in writing to the Commissioner for Standards by using the following contact details. The acknowledgement of receipt of a complaint by the Commissioner for Standards is not an indication that the complaint is admissible.

Commissioner for Standards
Welsh Parliament
Cardiff Bay
CF99 1SN

Email: standards.commissioner@senedd.wales

Tel: 0300 200 6542

18. Members should be aware that Section 9 of the Commissioner for Standards Measure 2009 also places a duty on the Chief Executive and Clerk of the Senedd to refer a matter to the Commissioner, if the Clerk has reasonable grounds for suspecting:

  • that the conduct of a Member of the Senedd has, at a relevant time, failed to comply with a requirement of a relevant provision, and
  • that the conduct in question is relevant to the Clerk's functions under section 138 of the 2006 Act (Clerk to be the principal accounting officer for the Commission).
4. Register of Members' Interests: General information

4.1. The purpose of the Register of Members' Interests

19. The purpose of the Register of Members' Interests ('the register') is to give notification on a continuous basis to Members of the Senedd and to the public of those financial and other interests which might reasonably be thought to influence the conduct or actions of Members in the Senedd.

20. These requirements are neither optional nor voluntary. As outlined in Chapter 3, participation in proceedings, having failed to register the interests specified in paragraph 5 of the Annex to Standing Order 2, is a criminal offence under Section 36(7)(a) of the 2006 Act.

4.2. How do you register an interest?

21. Members may register an interest by completing and signing a Registration and Recording Interest form, which is available on the Senedd's website.

22. Registrations relating to the employment of family members with the support of Senedd Commission funds are made by completing a separate Record of the Employment of Family Members form. Further information about the rules relating to the employment of family members is set out in section 8.1 of this document and in the Guidance for Members of the Senedd on the Recording of the Employment of Family Members with the Support of Commission Funds.

4.3. When should you send your form?

23. Under Standing Orders 2.3 and 5.5, Members must complete, sign and submit a Registration and Recording Form within eight weeks of taking the oath or the making of the affirmation.

24. It is then the responsibility of Members to notify changes in their registrable and recordable interests within four weeks of any such change occurring. Because of this, Members are advised to review their interests regularly.

25. Non-compliance with these timescales in relation to the requirements under Standing Order 2, may constitute a criminal offence under Section 36 of the 2006 Act.

4.4. Where should your form be sent?

26. Completed and signed forms should be either delivered in person by the Member or an authorised member of staff or sent in hard copy to the Senedd's Table Office using the following address, or sent electronically to tableoffice@senedd.wales:

27.
Table Office
Third Floor, Ty Hywel
Welsh Parliament
Cardiff Bay
CF99 1SN

4.5. What happens to the form?

28. Once the Registration and Recording Interest Form has been received, its details will be published on the online register as soon as possible and placed in hard copy on the register by Table Office Clerks.

29. The contents of the register is available for public inspection. An updated online version is placed on the Senedd's website as soon as possible after a register entry is received and a hard copy can be made available through the Table Office on request.

30. The online version of the register also includes details of the employment of family members (Standing Order 3), the time involved by member in 'registrable activities' (Standing Order 4) and membership of societies (Standing Order 5).

4.6. Who can help you?

31. The Table Office is on hand to assist with any queries Members have in relation to these rules, however, the responsibility for complying with requirements relating to the registration and recording of interests rests solely with individual Members. Members should also note that this guidance and any subsequent advice given cannot be a definitive interpretation of the requirements arising out of the 2006 Act and Standing Orders, as legal interpretation rests finally with the Courts.

32. Contact details for the Table Office are included below:

Table Office
Third Floor, Ty Hywel
Welsh Parliament
Cardiff Bay
CF99 1SN

Email: tableoffice@senedd.wales

Tel: 0300 200 6542

5. What should be registered?

33. The Annex to Standing Order 2 requires Members of the Senedd to register their interests in the following categories (known as the 'registrable interests').

34. Before considering the detail, Members should take note of the two general requirements set out in the Annex to Standing Order 2:

  • Remunerated activity in the areas of public relations, and political advice and consultancy relating to the functions of the Senedd shall be included in category.
  • The majority of the interests specified in the categories below include a reference to interests independently possessed by or given to the partner or any dependent child of the Member, and these must also be registered if such interests are known to the Member.

35. In addition to the statutory requirements to register interests under Standing Order 2, Member must also record interests in relation to Standing Order 3 (Recording of the Employment of Family Members with the Support of Commission Funds), Standing Order 4 (Recording Time Involved in Registrable Activities), and Standing Order 5 (Recording of Membership of Societies). Further information about these requirements are included in Chapter 8.

36. Definitions of 'partner' and 'dependent children' are included in the Glossary at the end of this guidance.

5.1. Category 1: Directorships

Remunerated directorships held by the Member or, to the Member's knowledge, the Member's partner or any dependent child of the Member, in public and private companies including directorships which are individually unremunerated but where remuneration is paid through another company in the same group.

37. In this category, and in other relevant categories, Members are advised to include as 'remuneration' not only salaries and fees, but also the receipt of any taxable expenses, allowances, or benefits, such as the provision of a company car.

38. Members should state the name of the company in which the directorship is held and give a broad indication of the company's business where it is not self-evident from its name.

39. In addition to any remunerated directorships, Members are also required to register any directorships which are held and which are themselves unremunerated but where the companies in question are associated with, or subsidiaries of, a company in which he or she holds a remunerated directorship.

40. Interests registered under Category 1 are considered to be 'registrable activities'. Therefore Members must also make a notification under Standing Order 4. Notification under Standing Order 4 relating to recording time involved in registrable interests, must be made at the same time as a registration under Category 1. Further information about the requirements set out in Standing Order 4 is included in Chapter 8 of this guidance.

5.2. Category 2: Remunerated Employment, Office, Profession etc.

Employment, office, trade, profession or vocation (apart from membership of the Senedd), for which the Member or, to the Member's knowledge, the Member's partner, is remunerated or in which the Member or, to the Member's knowledge, the Member's partner or any dependent child of the Member over the age of sixteen, has any pecuniary interest.

41. Details of all employment outside the Senedd and any sources of remuneration which do not fall clearly within any other category should be provided in this category.

42. For employment, Members should state the employer or company, the nature of the business, and indicate the nature of the post which they hold in the company or the services for which the company remunerates them. Members who have paid posts as consultants or advisers should indicate the nature of the consultancy, for example "management consultant", "legal adviser", "parliamentary and public affairs consultant".

43. If the Member, or the Member's partner, is in receipt of public funds then this should also be stated, along with the source of those funds (e.g. farming or arts grants etc.), but it is not necessary to include the amount received. 'Public funds', for the purpose of this category, does not include public sector salaries and therefore it is not necessary for Members to additionally state that a person employed in the public sector (e.g. teachers, nurses etc.) is in receipt of public funds. However, any public funds received by those employed in such professions, other than salary (e.g. through additional contractual work), should be included.

44. Any remunerated activity in the areas of public relations and political advice and consultancy relating to the functions of the Senedd must be included in this category. This includes any remunerated activity connected with any proceedings in the Senedd a committee or sub-committee, the sponsoring of functions in the Senedd buildings and making representations to the Senedd Cabinet or any of its members. Members of the Senedd must ensure that such remunerated activity does not breach the prohibition on lobbying for reward or consideration (further information about the Senedd's rules in relation to lobbying is available in the Guidance on Lobbying and Access to Members of the Senedd.)

45. Details of agreements involving the paid provision of services in the Member's capacity as a Member of the Senedd also need to be registered under this category.

46. Interests registered under Category 2 are considered to be 'registrable activities'. Therefore Members must also make a notification under Standing Order 4. Notification under Standing Order 4 must be made at the same time as a registration under Category 2. Further information about the requirements set out in Standing Order 4 is included in Chapter 8 of this guidance.

5.3. Category 3: The Names of Clients (Services)

In relation to Categories 1 (Directorships) and 2 (Remunerated Employment, Office, Profession etc.), Members are also required to register the names of clients when the interests referred to above include services by the Member or, to the Member's knowledge, the Member's partner or any dependent child of the Member over the age of sixteen, which arise out of, or are related in any manner to, his or her membership of the Senedd.

47. In respect of any paid employment registered/declared in Category 1 (Directorships) and Category 2 (Remunerated employment, office, profession, etc.), any provision to clients of services which relate to, or arise out of, the Member's position as a Member should be registered under this category.

48. The names of all clients, including companies and partnerships to which services are provided, should be listed together with the nature of the client's business in each case. Where a Member or, to the Member's knowledge, the Member's partner or any dependent child of the Member over the age of sixteen, receives remuneration from a company or partnership engaged in consultancy business which itself has clients, the Members should list any of those clients to whom services or advice are provided, either directly or indirectly.

49. The types of services that are intended to be covered here include those connected with any Senedd proceeding, or other services related to membership. If a Member or, to the Member's knowledge, the Member's partner or any dependent child of the Member over the age of sixteen has clients in a non-Senedd professional capacity (for example as a doctor, solicitor or accountant), the Member is not required to register the names of those clients, provided it is clear beyond doubt that the services which are being provided do not arise out of or relate in any manner to the Member's capacity as a Member of the Senedd.

50. Under this category, if a Member or, to the Member's knowledge the Member's partner or any dependent child of the Member over the age of sixteen, is employed as an Senedd adviser by a firm which is itself a consultancy and therefore is providing such advice and services to its clients, the Member should disclose those of the consultancy's clients with whom he or she has a direct connection for the purpose of providing advice or services related to the Senedd or who benefit from the provision of such advice or services. Where a company or partnership is named as a client, the nature of the company or partnership's business should be indicated.

5.4. Category 4: Gifts, Hospitality, Material Benefits or Advantage

Gifts, hospitality, material benefits or advantage above a value specified in any resolution of the Senedd received by the Member or, to the Member's knowledge the Member's partner or any dependent child of the Member, from any company, organisation or person and relating to or arising out of membership of the Senedd.

The current value of gifts, hospitality or material benefit or advantage that are required to be registered is 0.5 per cent of a Member's basic gross annual salary (currently £320).

Additional requirements under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000:

  • Members should also be aware that in addition to their reporting obligations to the Senedd under this category, they have a statutory duty under the PPERA 2000 to check, record and report the same gift, hospitality, material benefit or advantage separately to the Electoral Commission. Further information on these requirements can be found in Chapter 6.

51. The Senedd resolved on 10 May 2006 [Record of Proceedings] that the specified financial values above which gifts, hospitality and any other benefits must be registered is £338. Apart from gifts and hospitality, other material benefits or advantage might include relief from indebtedness, concessionary loans, provision of services, etc.

52. Any gift, or benefit, which in any way relates to membership of the Senedd and which is given gratis, or at a cost below that generally available to members of the public, should be registered whenever the value of the gift or benefit is greater than the amount specified above. Any similar gift or benefit which is received by any company or organisation in which the Member or, to the Member's knowledge, the Member's partner or any dependent child of the Member, has a controlling interest should also be registered.

53. Gifts and material benefits in this category (and other categories) are exempt from registration/declaration if they do not relate in any way to membership of the Senedd. Consequently, gifts which are received by a Member on behalf of the Senedd as a whole do not need to be registered/declared provided they are handed over to the Senedd and a record is made of the Senedd's ownership of the gift. Whether this exemption applies in any particular case is in the first instance a matter for the individual Member to decide. If there is any doubt it should be registered.

54. Pensions, are not in themselves registrable, however, Members who are concerned about transparency may declare interests relating to pension income under Standing Order 13.8A and 17.24A (where a Member may make an oral declaration of any relevant interest which the Member or a family member has or is expecting to have in any matter arising in those proceedings).

5.5 Category 5: Contracts with the Senedd Commission or Welsh Government

Any remuneration or other material benefit which a Member or, to the Member's knowledge, the Member's partner or any dependent child of the Member, receives from any public or private company or other body which, to the Members' knowledge, has tendered for, is tendering for, or has, a contract with the Senedd Commission or Welsh Government.

55. Members should register/declare the source of all remuneration or material benefits received from any company or other body which, to the Members' knowledge, has tendered or is tendering for contracts with the Senedd. As with Category 4 (Gifts, Hospitality, Material Benefit or Advantage), Members are not required to register pension income under this, or any other, category.

56. It is for the Member to decide what constitutes a material benefit, but clearly any gifts or hospitality which are not registrable under Category 4 above but given by a company with contractual links with the Senedd would need to be identified in this category.

5.6. Category 6: Financial Sponsorships

Financial sponsorship in relation to the following:

(a) as a candidate for election to the Senedd, where, to the knowledge of the Member, the sponsorship in any case exceeds 25 per cent of the candidate's election expenses; or

(b) as a Member of the Senedd, by any person or organisation, stating whether any such sponsorship includes any payment to the Member or any material benefit or advantage.

Additional requirements under the National Assembly for Wales (Representation of the People) Order 2007:

  • Members should be aware that any donations over £50 given to them as a constituency candidate for the purpose of meeting their candidate campaign spending under the 2007 Order must be from a permissible source and be reported in their candidate's spending return after the election.

Additional requirements under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000:

  • Members should be aware that in addition to their reporting obligations to the Senedd under this category, they also have a statutory duty under the PPERA 2000 to check, record and report the same financial sponsorship separately to the Electoral Commission. Further information is available in Chapter 6.

57. This category deals with sponsorship by companies, trade unions, professional bodies, trade associations and other organisations. Under this category and paragraph 1 of the general heading of the annex to Standing Order 2, the Member is required to register the source of any contribution to his or her election expenses in excess of 25 per cent of the total of such expenses.

58. Members should also be aware, however, that their allowances and remuneration as a Member of the Senedd cannot be used for election purposes. In practice, this means that Members cannot make a claim to the Senedd for any costs associated with election material and other election expenses.

59. Under this category, constituency Members are required to register the source of any contribution to his or her election expenses in excess of 25 per cent of the total of such expenses as included in the campaign spending return required under the National Assembly for Wales (Representation of the People) Order 2007. Regional candidates expenditure is not required to be registered, as their expenditure is treated by the PPERA 2000 as being incurred by the party.

60. Further guidance for candidates and agents on spending and donations is available on the Electoral Commission's website and in the Candidate Election Expenses (Senedd Elections) Code of Practice 2021

61. Subsection (b) of this category relates to other forms of financial sponsorship. This is intended to cover any regular or continuing support from persons including companies or organisations from which the Member receives any financial or material benefit in support of his or her role as a Member of the Senedd.

62. If a company is the sponsor, the nature of its business should be indicated. Members should register any financial sponsorship arrangement in which they are personally involved, irrespective of whether they receive personal payment.

63. It is considered that the provision of services of a research assistant or secretary whose salary, in whole or in part, is met by an external organisation, and the provision of free or subsidised accommodation for the Member's use, other than accommodation provided solely by the constituency party, should be registered, as appropriate, either in this section or under category 4 "Gifts, hospitality, material benefits or advantage".

64. The Assembly resolved on 19th May 1999 [Record of Proceedings] that accommodation provided by a local authority or other body at no cost, or at a subsided cost, to a Member for the sole purpose of holding constituency surgeries is exempt from registration.

65. Members should also register and declare any substantial donations which are made by an organisation or company on a regular basis to their constituency party when such donations are linked directly to their own candidacy or membership of the Senedd.

66. The Senedd resolved on 19th May 1999 that "donations are to be regarded as financial sponsorship if such donations in any year are directly linked to a person's candidacy for election to, or membership of, the Senedd and amount to at least £500 in value (and references above to donations include a single donation)". However, donations made directly to a constituency party as an expression of general political support, not linked to the Member's candidacy or membership of the Senedd, do not come within the Senedd's resolution.

67. Similarly it is not necessary to register a trade union donation to a constituency party which is not linked to the promotion of a particular Senedd candidate or Member. However, financial support of a Member by a trade union should be regarded as within category 6 and should be registered (provided of course it exceeds 25 per cent of election expenses) even where the trade union is affiliated to the political party in question.

5.7. Category 7: Overseas Visits

With the exceptions specified in any resolution of the Senedd, overseas visits made by the Member or, to the Member's knowledge, the Member's partner or any dependent child of the Member, relating to or in any way arising out of membership of the Senedd where the cost of the visit was not wholly borne by the Member or the Member's partner or dependent child, or by Welsh Government or Senedd Commission public funds

Additional requirements under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000:

  • Members should also be aware that in addition to their reporting obligations to the Senedd under this category, they also have a statutory duty under the PPERA 2000 to check, record and report the same overseas visit separately to the Electoral Commission. Further information is available in Chapter 6.

68. The Member should provide the date, destination, and purpose of the visit, along with the name of the government, organisation, company or individual that met the cost. Where only part of the cost was borne by an outside source (for example, the cost of accommodation but not the cost of travel), those details should be stated briefly. When an overseas visit was arranged by a Cross-Party Senedd Group but not paid for by the Senedd or by a group, it is not sufficient to name the group as the sponsor of the visit: the Government, organisation, company or person ultimately meeting the cost should be specified.

69. The Assembly resolved on 19th May 1999 [Record of Proceedings] that the following categories of visit need not be registered but should be declared when relevant in Senedd proceedings.

  • Visits which are paid for by, or which are undertaken on behalf of the Senedd or which are made on behalf of an international organisation to which the Senedd belongs;
  • Visits abroad with, or on behalf of, a Committee of the Senedd;
  • Visits arranged for, and paid for, wholly by a Member's own political party;
  • Visits paid for wholly by an institution of the European Union or by a political group of the European Parliament.

70. Visits which are entirely unconnected with membership of the Senedd are also exempt from registration but visits combining public duties with private purposes should be registered unless the public duties are undertaken in the course of visits covered by any of the exceptions listed above or unless the whole cost is paid for by the Member or the Member's partner or any dependent child.

5.8. Category 8: Land and Property

Any land or property, other than any home used for the personal residential purposes of the Member or, to the Member's knowledge, the Member's partner or any dependent child of the Member, which has a substantial value as specified in any resolution of the Senedd or from which a substantial income is derived.

71. Members should include on the nature of the property, and general location (e.g. "Woodland in Meirionnydd", "Dairy farm in Vale of Glamorgan", "3 residential rented properties in Llandudno").

72. The Assembly resolved on 19th May 1999 [Record of Proceedings] that "substantial value" means an amount equivalent to the basic gross annual salary for a Member of the Senedd (currently £67,649) and "substantial income" means an amount equivalent to 10 per cent of the basic gross annual salary for a Member of the Senedd (currently £6,794.90). There is no need, however, to register specific amounts.

73. There is no clear-cut definition of a property that is 'used for personal residential purposes'. Members will need to exercise their judgement in deciding whether a property is exempt from registration for this reason. There are a number of factors that Members may wish to take into account and which may give an indication of whether a particular property is exempt - these are listed below. It is important to stress that these factors are not exhaustive or prescriptive and other factors may be important in specific circumstances:

  • Whether a substantial income is derived from the property. Generally, a property from which a Member their partner or dependent children derive an income (particularly if it is a substantial income as defined above) is unlikely to be a property used for 'personal residential purposes'.
  • Whether the property is used exclusively by the Member, their partner and children or other immediate or close family members.
  • Whether the Member or their partner or any dependent children pay council tax or utilities bills in respect of the property.
  • Whether a property, such as a farm, on which the Member or their partner or any dependent children has a residence, should be registered if it has a substantial value aside from the residential use.

74. It is possible for a Member or the Member's partner or dependent child to have more than one home 'used for personal residential purposes of the Member or Member's partner or dependent child'. Such properties do not need to be registered.

5.9. Category 9: Shareholdings

The names of companies or other bodies in which the Member has, either alone, or with or on behalf of his or her partner or dependent children, a beneficial interest or in which, to the Member's knowledge, the Member's partner or any dependent child of the Member has a beneficial interest, in shareholdings:

(a) of a market value greater than one per cent of the issued share capital; or

(b) less than one per cent but more than an amount specified in any resolution of the Senedd.

This requirement includes any option to acquire shares.

Where the Member is, either alone, or with his or her partner or dependent children, the beneficiary of a blind trust, this must also be registered.

The Assembly resolved on 10 May 2006 that "registration is required in respect of shareholdings with a market value less than 1% of the issued share capital where the value of those shareholdings exceeds 50 per cent of the basic gross annual Senedd salary for a Member of the Senedd" at the preceding 5th April.

75. The value of a shareholding is determined by the market price of the share on: the date the Member was elected to the Senedd, or if acquired after the Member was elected to the Senedd, the date of acquisition; or subsequent to initial election or acquisition, the value at 5th April each year.

76. This means that Members must make an annual assessment of their shareholdings and register any shareholding which, although it may previously have been valued below the threshold is, at 5th April, valued above the threshold. Members are required to register shareholdings held within 8 weeks of their election to the Senedd or within 4 weeks of acquiring shares or the 5th of April each year depending on the circumstances.

77. Members may also indicate that a shareholding's value at 5th April has dropped below the threshold. In these circumstances, the Member will not be required to declare the shareholding in relevant Senedd proceedings.

78. If the market price cannot be ascertained (e.g. because the company is unquoted and there is no market in the shares), the nominal value of the shareholding should be used instead.

79. Interests in shareholdings include share options. As it may be difficult to calculate the value of a share option for registration purposes, their value is deemed to be the same as the value of the share at any given time. As with shareholdings, Members are required to make an annual assessment of any share options and register any options which, although it may previously have been valued below the threshold is, at 5th April, valued above the threshold.

80. Interests in shareholdings also include beneficial interests in Blind Trusts. Blind Trusts should be registered along with their value (if known).

81. When determining whether or not shareholdings are registrable under the criteria set out above, Members should include not only holdings in which they themselves have a beneficial interest but also those in which the interest is held together with, or on behalf of, their partner or dependent children. For each shareholding, the entry should state the name of the company or body, briefly indicate the nature of its business and make clear which of the criteria for registration is applicable.

5.10. Category 10: Membership/Chairmanship of bodies in receipt of Senedd Commission or Welsh Government funds

Paid or unpaid membership or chairmanship by the Member or, to the Member's knowledge, the Member's partner or any dependent child of the Member, of any body funded in whole or in part by the Senedd Commission or Welsh Government.

82. The Welsh Government and Senedd have extensive funding powers in relation to public bodies and any formal association that a Member has with such bodies as a member or chair should be registered.

83. Where a Member of the Senedd knows or ought to have known, that the Member's partner or any dependent child of the Member, has an association with a voluntary body or other body as a member or a chair which receives funding from the Senedd or the Welsh Government, that should be registered.

84. The advice of the Presiding Officer, the Clerk, or the Registrar of Members' Interests, can be sought as to whether a body is funded wholly or in part by the Welsh Government.

85. The definition of the term 'membership' in this category includes the following:

  • Any officeholder, for example, chairman, treasurer or president of the organisation, but also includes trustees and directors, patrons and vice presidents;
  • Membership of the governing body or board of the organisation;
  • Any remunerated position, be it executive or administrative within or relating to the organisation.
6. Reporting Interests to the Electoral Commission

86. In addition to the duties set out in the 2006 Act and in the Welsh Parliament Standing Orders, Members also have statutory obligations to check, record and report certain interests directly to the Electoral Commission, as set out in the PPERA 2000 and, if they are constituency candidates, to report donations towards their election campaign spending under the 2007 Order. Members are encouraged to view the Electoral Commission's guidance or contact the Electoral Commission directly if they have any queries relating to these requirements.

87. In reporting interests to the Electoral Commission, Members should also be aware that:

  • any financial sponsorship, gift, hospitality, material benefit or advantage (including any donation or loan) over £500 for their use in connection with their political activities either as a Member or as a member of a political party must be from a permissible source;
  • additional information must be provided to the Electoral Commission in respect of loans they are given for their use in connection with their political activities; and
  • they have 30 days to provide the required report to the Electoral Commission.

6.1. Gifts, Hospitality, Material Benefit or Advantage

88. Members must report any gift, hospitality, material benefit or advantage (including any donation or loan) that is for the Member's use in connection with their political activities either as a Member or as a member of a political party, and it is either:

  • over £1,500 and from a permissible source (either on its own or aggregated with other donations from the same source), or
  • over £500 and from an impermissible or unidentifiable source.

6.2. Financial Sponsorship

89. Members must report certain information to the Electoral Commission if they are given financial sponsorship for their use in connection with their political activities, and it is either:

  • over £1,500 and from a permissible source (either on its own or aggregated with other donations from the same source); or
  • over £500 and from an impermissible or unidentifiable source.

6.3. Overseas Visits

90. Members must report certain information to the Electoral Commission if the cost of an overseas trip exceeds £1500 (either on their own or aggregated with other visits paid for by the same source) and was in connection with the Member's political activities either as a Member or as a member of a political party.

91. Members should be aware, however, that:

  • PPERA 2000 permissibility requirements do not apply to overseas visits; and
  • PPERA 2000 provides no exemption from reporting where the cost of the overseas visit was wholly borne by the Member's partner or dependent child; and
  • PPERA 2000 states that the value of any donation received must not exceed the ‘reasonable costs’ of the overseas visit.

The Electoral Commission
Companies House, Crown Way
Cardiff
CF14 3UZ

Email: infowales@electoralcommission.org.uk

Tel: 02920 346800

Electoral Commission guidance on donations to regulated individuals.

Electoral Commission guidance for candidates and agents at elections to the Senedd.

7. Oral declarations and restrictions on voting

7.1. The purpose of oral declarations

92. The essential purpose of oral declarations is to ensure that the public is made aware of any past, present or future financial interest which might reasonably be thought by others to influence the Member's contribution to a debate or discussion.

7.2. When should Members declare interests?

93. The instances whereby Members are required to declare interests during proceedings are split into two categories, which are subject to criminal and non-criminal sanctions respectively:

Declaration of Registrable Interest (Criminal)

Standing Orders 2.6 and 2.7 states that:

"In the circumstances specified in Standing Order 2, before taking part in any Senedd proceedings, a Member must make an oral declaration of any financial interest which he or she has, or may be expecting to have, or which, to the Member's knowledge, the Member's partner or any dependent child of the Member has, or may be expecting to have in any matter arising in those proceedings.

An oral declaration under Standing Order 2.6 must be made in relation to any interest which is specified in paragraph 5 of the Annex to Standing Order 2 if a particular decision in those proceedings might result in a direct financial advantage to the Member, or, to the Member's knowledge, the Member's partner or any dependent child of the Member, greater than that which might accrue to the electorate generally."

Participation in proceedings without declaring registrable interests under these Standing Orders is a criminal offence under Section 36(7)(a) of the 2006 Act.

Declaration of Relevant Interest (Non-criminal)

Under Standing Orders 13.8A and 17.24A, a Member must, at the appropriate time, make an oral declaration of any 'relevant interest' which the Member or a family member has or is expecting to have in any matter arising in those proceedings.

Standing Orders 13.8A and 17.24A define a 'relevant interest' for these purposes as being an interest which might reasonably be thought by others to influence the Member's contribution to the debate or discussion.

In contrast to the requirements for declaring any current relevant interest under Standing Order 2.6 and 2.7, failure to declare a future interest or a relevant interest under Standing Orders 13.8A and 17.24A is not a criminal offence under the 2006 Act, but may be the subject of a complaint to the Commissioner for Standards.

94. A flowchart diagram explaining how these two categories work alongside each other is included below.

Flowchart – Oral declarations and restrictions on voting (PDF, 44KB)

7.3. Restrictions on voting

95. Under Standing Order 2.9, where a Member has a registrable interest which is required to be declared under Standing Order 2.6 and 2.7, the Member is not allowed to vote if in relation to that interest the decision might result in a direct financial advantage to the Member which is greater than that which might accrue to the electorate generally. Otherwise, Members may vote in the proceedings of the Senedd.

96. As with the requirement to register and declare registrable interests, failure to comply with Standing Order 2.9 on this matter is a criminal offence under Section 36(7)(a) of the 2006 Act.

97. When voting, a Member must consider whether he or she might directly benefit financially from a decision more than the electorate generally. The Member therefore should consider two questions:

  • The first is whether the particular matter to be voted on in Senedd proceedings involves a decision which might affect an interest required to be registered or declared under the Annex to Standing Order 2.
  • The second question is whether a decision 'might result in a direct financial advantage to the Member greater than that which might accrue to the electorate generally'.

98. If a Member gained a direct financial advantage from a decision therefore that would be greater than that which might accrue to the electorate generally he or she would be prohibited from voting on that matter.

7.4. Declaring future interests

99. Where an oral declaration is required under Standing Orders 2.6 and 2.7, Members should be aware that the requirements for such declarations are broader in scope than the Standing Orders relating to the registration of interests. As well as current interests (i.e. those in the current Register of interests acquired in the previous four weeks), Members are required to declare interests which are specified in the Annex to Standing Order 2 which they may be expecting to have before taking part in any proceedings of the Senedd if the interest is in any matter to which the proceedings relate.

100. Expected future interests may be more significant than current interests and candour from Members is therefore essential. Where, for example, a Member is debating subordinate legislation or making representations on a matter from which the Member has a reasonable expectation of personal financial advantage of a kind specified in the Annex to Standing Order 2, a declaration must be made.

101. In deciding when a possible future benefit is sufficiently tangible to necessitate declaration, the key word in the rule that the Member must bear in mind is 'expecting'. Where a Member's plans or degree of involvement in a project have reached the stage where there is a reasonable expectation that a registrable benefit will accrue, then a declaration explaining the situation should be made. Where the interest is such as to require a declaration before speaking, Members should also ensure that they comply with the rules on voting (see section 7.3).

7.5. Declaring relevant interests

102. Where an oral declaration is required under Standing Orders 13.8A and 17.24A, Members should be aware that they must declare any relevant interest which they or a family member has or is expecting to have, and that such interests could be broader in scope than the 'registrable interests' outlined in paragraph 5 of the annex to Standing Order 2. For example, although Members do not have to register the employment of dependent children under paragraph 5(iv) of the annex to Standing Order 2 relating to 'Remunerated Employment, Office, Profession etc.', Members may be required to declare such employment, so long as it might reasonably be thought by others to influence the Member's contribution to the debate or discussion.

103. Standing Orders 13.8A and 17.24A provide Members with discretion to decide whether an interest which the Member or family member has or is expecting to have is a 'relevant interest'. As with expected future interests therefore, candour from Members is essential in deciding whether a declaration is required under this Standing Order or not.

104. The definition of 'Family Members' for the purposes of Standing Orders 13.8A and 17.24A, is the same as included under Standing Order 3 relating to the Recording of the Employment of Family Members (the full definition is included in the Glossary at the end of the document).

105. The rules relating to restrictions on voting (explained in section 7.3) do not apply:

  • in relation to the requirement under Standing Order 13.8A and 17.24A to declare any 'relevant interest' which the Member or a family member has or is expecting to have in any matter arising in those proceedings; or
  • to the exercise of a casting vote under Standing Order 6.20.

7.6. How should Members declare interests in practice?

106. An interest should be declared if it is either within a category specified in the annex to the Standing Order 2 or within the scope of Standing Orders 13.8A and 17.24A, and if it is relevant in any matter to which the proceedings relate [“Senedd proceedings” means any proceedings of the Senedd any committee of the Senedd or a sub-committee of such a committee]. It is the responsibility of the Member to judge whether an interest relates sufficiently to a particular proceeding to require a declaration.

107. Members should declare both registrable and relevant interests each time that they participate in proceedings of the Senedd, as follows:

Registrable Interest:

  • In Plenary – before a member speaks for the first time in each agenda item but not each time that they subsequently speak during the particular item of business.
  • In committee/sub-committee – at the beginning of each meeting.

Relevant Interest:

  • At the appropriate time in Senedd proceedings.

108. Provided that the details (including any relevant amounts) are included in the Register of Members' Interests, the Member may simply refer to the interests and the fact that the interests are to be found in the Register. If the declaration relates to interests which are either not in the Register or are ones which the Member (or to the Member's knowledge, the Member's partner or any dependant child of the Member) may expect to have in the future, then the full details (including relevant amounts if appropriate) will be required to be given in the declaration.

109. The declaration itself should be sufficiently informative to enable the listener to understand the nature of the interest being declared, it is not enough to say 'I have an interest in the matter under discussion'.

110. The declaration must also identify the kind of interest involved. For example, 'I am a farmer with interests in land or animals which would be affected by the scheme' or 'I own a house in the area affected by the scheme being considered' or 'I am a member of the board of one of the organisations which would be affected by this decision'. If a member has more than one interest then each must be declared (e.g. 'I am a farmer whose land would be affected by the scheme and I am also the owner of a house occupied by my parents and which will be affected').

8. Other requirements relating to Members' interests

111. In addition to the statutory requirements to register interests under Standing Order 2, Member must also record the following interests:

  • Standing Order 3: Recording of the Employment of Family Members with the Support of Commission Funds
  • Standing Order 4: Recording Time Involved in Registrable Activities
  • Standing Order 5: Recording of Membership of Societies

112. The requirements under these Standing Orders are modelled on those in Standing Order 2 so that, for instance, timescales for declaring recordable interests are identical. Like Standing Order 2, the provisions are neither optional nor voluntary, however, Members should note that these requirements are not covered by the criminal sanctions applicable to breaches of the rules relating to the register of interests and oral declarations set out under Standing Order 2.

113. Notifications made under these Standing Orders are published in the same online document as the Register of Interests.

8.1. Recording of the Employment of Family Members with the Support of Commission Funds

Standing Order requirement (Standing Order 3)

Under Standing Order 3, any Member who, at any time, with the support of Senedd Commission funds, employs (either directly or indirectly) a person whom that Member knows to be a family member of that Member or of another Member, must register that employment.

Further guidance on the employment of family members is available on the Senedd's website.

114. Registering the employment of family members with the support of Commission Funds is done in practice by completing a separate Record of the Employment of Family Members form and sending a signed hard copy to the Table Office (contact details for the Table Office are included under Section 4 of this guidance). The timescales for declaring the employment of family members are identical to those that apply for registering interests generally.

115. The Record of the Employment of Family Members is maintained in the Table Office. It is open to public inspection in the Table Office itself during opening hours and copies of individual entries may be made available on request. The Record of the Employment of Family Members is published in the same online document as the Register of Interests.

116. The Independent Remuneration Board of the Senedd agreed on 17 January 2019 that Senedd Commission funding will not be given for employment of family members who were not already employed before 1 April 2019. Members are therefore prohibited from employing members of their own family with the use of Senedd Commission funds. However, family members who were appointed before 1 April 2019 will continue to have their salaries funded by the Commission until the end of the Sixth Senedd, although the contracts of family members may not be enhanced by the employing Member during that time. In addition, Members may continue to employ the family members of other Members. The rules on recording the employment of family members with Commission funds therefore continues to apply in the circumstances outlined above, and Members are still required to record such details, in accordance with Standing Order 3.

8.2. Recording Time involved in Registrable Activities

Standing Order requirement (Standing Order 4)

Where a Member is required to register an interest under Categories 1 (Directorship) and 2 (Remunerated Employment, Office, Profession etc.) (collectively known as the 'registrable activities'), Members must also note the time he or she is involved in those activities.

117. Members must notify the time involved in any registrable activities by reference to the following bands, as set out in Standing Order 4.3:

  • Band 1: Less than 5 hours per week;
  • Band 2: Between 5 and 20 hours per week;
  • Band 3: More than 20 hours a week.

118. A notification under Standing Order 4 must be made at the same time as a registration of a relevant interest under Categories 1 and 2. Notifications under this Standing Order can be made by Members filling in the relevant sections on the Registration and Recording Interest form. These notifications are published in the same online document as the Register of Interests.

8.3. Recording of Membership of Societies

Standing Order requirement (Standing Order 5)

Members are required under Standing Order 5 to register their membership, or position of general control of management, of a private society or a private club which has entry requirements for membership.

119. Following advice from the Committee responsible for Standards of Conduct, the Record of Membership of Societies was introduced following the adoption by the Senedd of Standing Order 5 on 19 April 2005. Standing Order 5 replaced the former requirement under Standing Order 2 for Members to register their Membership of the Freemasons.

120. The policy behind the requirement is similar to that for Standing Order 2 i.e. to give notification on a continuous basis to Members of the Senedd and to the public of memberships of private clubs or societies which might be thought to influence members' conduct or actions in the Senedd.

121. Examples of Memberships of Bodies which must be recorded include the following:

  • Private Societies which have requirements in addition to, or instead of, subscription requirements and agreement to terms and conditions of membership – particularly where Membership is by selection or invitation only (e.g. Freemasons, Rotary, Round Table).
  • Private Clubs which have requirements in addition to, or instead of, subscription requirements and agreement to terms and conditions of membership – particularly where Membership is by selection or invitation only (e.g. Private Members Clubs, such as the Cardiff and County Club).

122. Examples of Memberships of Bodies which do not need to be recorded include the following:

  • Public Bodies (e.g. CADW, English Heritage, Historic Scotland)
  • Private societies which have only the requirement to pay a subscription (e.g. National Trust, RAC, AA, RSPB)
  • Private societies which have terms and conditions of membership (e.g. University or College of Further or Higher Education, Parent/Teacher Association, Religious Bodies, Professional Bodies)
  • Private Clubs which only have requirements to pay a subscription and/or agreement to conditions of membership (e.g. Recreational Clubs or Working Persons Clubs - provided there is no element of membership which is by invitation or selection only).

123. Notifications under this Standing Order can be made by Members filling in the relevant sections on the Registration and Recording Interest form. Such notifications are published in the same online document as the Register of Interests.

Glossary

2006 Act: Government of Wales Act 2006.

2007 Order: The National Assembly for Wales (Representation of the People) Order 2007.

Commissioner for Standards: The independent person appointed by the Senedd, to safeguard standards, to uphold reputations, and to address concerns.

Dependent Child: Any person who, at the time of registration is under the age of sixteen or is under the age of nineteen and receiving full time education at a recognised education establishment and is:

(a) A child of the Member; or

(b) A step-child of the Member by marriage; or

(c) A child legally adopted by the Member; or

(d) A child who, the Member intends to legally adopt; or

(e) A child who, for at least the previous 6 calendar months has been financially supported by the Member.

Family Member: Family member means:

(a) A partner of a Member;

(b) A child or grand-child of a Member;

(c) A parent or grand-parent of a Member;

(d) A brother or sister of a Member;

(e) A nephew or niece of a Member; or

(f) An uncle or aunt of a Member;

the expressions "child", "grand-child", "parent", "grand-parent", "brother", "sister", "uncle" and "aunt" apply equally to half-, step-, foster- and adoptive relationships and also apply to persons having the relationship in question to the partner of the Member.

Partner: "partner" means a spouse, civil partner or one of a couple whether of the same sex or of the opposite sex who although not married to each other are living together and treat each other as spouses.

PPERA 2000: Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000.

Registrable interest: The interests specified in the Annex to Standing Order 2.

Relevant interest: An interest which might reasonably be thought by others to influence the Member's contribution to the debate or discussion.

Responsible Committee: Currently the Standards of Conduct Committee.

Senedd Proceedings: Any proceedings of the Senedd, any committee of the Senedd or a sub-committee of such a committee.

 

Guidance for Members of the Senedd on the recording of the employment of family members with the support of commission funds
  • Last updated: March 2021
  • Owner: Committee responsible for Standards of Conduct
  • Contact: Head of the Table Office
  • PDF Files

This Guidance includes the two annexes subsequent to the text and should be considered in its entirety:

 

1. The Independent Remuneration Board of the Senedd agreed on 17 January 2019 that Senedd Commission funding will not be given for employment of family members who were not already employed before 1 April 2019. Members are therefore prohibited from employing members of their own family with the use of Senedd Commission funds. However, family members who were appointed before 1 April 2019 will continue to have their salaries funded by the Commission until the end of the Sixth Senedd, although the contracts of family members may not be enhanced by the employing Member during that time. In addition, Members may continue to employ the family members of other Members. The rules on recording the employment of family members with Commission funds therefore continues to apply in the circumstances outlined above, and Members are still required to record such details, in accordance with Standing Order 3.

2. The purpose of this guidance is to assist Members in discharging the duties placed upon them under Standing Order 3. It is not, however, a substitute for Standing Order 3. Responsibility for complying with the duties placed upon them rests with Members alone, although they may seek advice from the Presiding Officer, Chief Executive and Clerk to the Senedd or the Registrar of Members' Interests (through the Senedd's Table Office).

3. The main elements of the Senedd's Standing Order 3 are:

3.1 – Members who employ family members (as defined in the Standing Order) must make a notification under this Standing Order.

3.2 – Provides the definitions of who is to be regarded as a "family member" under this Standing Order. (NB the requirement to notify also extends to members of the families of other MSs.)

3.3 – Sets the requirements for what must be included in any notification made under this Standing Order.

3.4 and 3.5 – Provide details of the deadlines by which notifications under this Standing Order must be made.

3.6 – Notification must be given by completing and signing the form prescribed by the Presiding Officer.

3.7 – The record of notifications made under this Standing Order is open for public inspection.

3.8 – There is a continuing duty on Members to ensure that the record of notifications is correct.

4. These provisions are explored in greater detail in below.

5. Standing Order 3 covers the recording by Members of their employment of family members. Failure to record employment of family members is a matter that the Committee for Standards of Conduct may investigate under Standing Order 22 and can recommend action if it finds that a Member has not complied with the provisions of Standing Order 3.

The record of the employment of family members with the support of commission funds (SO3)

6. Under Standing Order 3 any Member who at any time, with the support of Commission funds, employs, either directly or indirectly, a person whom that Member knows to be a family member of that Member or of another Member must, no later than the date specified in Standing Order 3.4, make a notification under this Standing Order.

7. The provisions of Standing Order 3 are modelled on those in Standing Order 2 and 5, as can be seen in the timescales for recording the employment of family members. Like Standing Order 2 and 5, the provisions are neither optional nor voluntary.

Recording of Employment in practice

8. The definitions of what needs to be recorded by notification are set out in Annex A.

9. Details of the specific matters that need to be included in any notification are set out in Annex B.

10. There are two main questions that Members need to consider in deciding whether or not they are required to make a formal notification of employment under this Standing Order. If the answer to the two questions below is yes, then formal notification will be required:

  • Is the person I employ a 'family member' of mine, or a 'family member' of another Member of the Senedd?
  • Is the employment of that 'family member' being made with the support of Commission Funds?

11. Standing Order 3.2 provides a definition of what constitutes a family member (Annex A). Standing Order 3.1 only requires notification, of course, if a Member knows that the person they employ is a family member of theirs or another Member before notification of the employment is required.

12. The provisions of this Standing Order also clearly state that Members are not only required to record details of where they employ family members directly, but also where they employ family members on an indirect basis. Direct employment is more easily identified; however, Members are advised to consider in greater detail whether employment of family members might fall under the indirect category. As a guide, the following are examples of what would constitute direct or indirect employment. Members should note however that this is not a definitive list, and it is their responsibility to ensure that they comply with the Standing Order:

  • Direct Employment: Employment of a family Member as: a member of their Support Staff; constituency office receptionist; case-worker; etc.
  • Indirect Employment: Employment of a small company or firm from which a family member derives a significant benefit; for example, a Member who employs a small cleaning firm in which the 'family member' is a partner or which employs the 'family member' as a cleaner. But a Member need not give notification in relation to a family member who is employed by a large concern, such as a utility, just because the Member receives a supply of services from that company.

The deadlines for the recording of employment – SO 3.4 and 3.5

13. Standing Order 3.4 requires Members to make a formal notification of the employment of family members:

(a) within eight weeks of taking the oath or making the affirmation; or

(b) within four weeks of:

(i) the first occasion on which the family member receives a payment with the support of Commission fund

(ii) the date on which the employee becomes a family member of that Member or of another Member, or

(iii) the date when the Member first becomes aware of the fact that the employee is a family member of that Member or of another Member, whichever is the later.

14. It is also the responsibility of Members under Standing Order 3.5 to provide formal notification of any changes to the details already recorded (e.g. a change to the capacity in which a family member is employed) within four weeks of each change occurring.

15. Because of the requirement in Standing Order 3 to provide notification of any change in the details recorded within four weeks of that change occurring, Members are advised to review their notifications regularly.

16. The content of the Record of the Employment of Family Members is available for public inspection on each Members’ Register of Interests page. These pages are updated as soon possible after a revision to a Members' register is received

Annex A

Definitions of the categories of matters that must be recorded in accordance with Standing Order 3.

Standing Order 3 requires:

3.1 A Member who at any time, with the support of Commission funds, employs, either directly or indirectly, a person whom that Member knows to be a family member of that Member or of another Member must, no later than the date specified in Standing Order 3.4, make a notification under this Standing Order.

3.2 In this Standing Order:

(i) "family member" means:

(a) a partner of a Member;

(b) a child or grand-child of a Member;

(c) a parent or grand-parent of a Member;

(d) a brother or sister of a Member;

(e) a nephew or niece of a Member; or

(f) an uncle or aunt of a Member.

(ii) "partner" means a spouse, civil partner or one of a couple whether of the same sex or of the opposite sex who although not married to each other are living together and treat each other as spouses.

(iii) the expressions "child", "grand-child", "parent", "grand-parent" "brother", "sister", "uncle" and "aunt" apply equally to half-, step-, foster- and adoptive relationships and also apply to persons having the relationship in question to the partner of the Member;

(iv) "Commission funds" means amounts paid by the Commission by way of allowances under Standing Order 1.7.

Annex B

Details of the specific matters that need to be included in any notification made in accordance with Standing Order 3.

Standing Order 3 requires Members to include the following information in any notification made:

(i) the Member's name;

(ii) if the employee is a family member of another Member or Members, the name of that other Member or of those other Members;

(iii) the full name of the employee;

(iv) the relationship of the employee to the Member (or, where appropriate, to the Member or Members referred to in (ii));

(v) the capacity in which the employee is employed, including any job title;

(vi) the date on which the employment commenced;

(vii) if the employment has ceased, the date on which it ceased; and

(viii) the hours which the employee is contracted to work each week.

Members are also required to make a notification of any changes to the information that has been recorded. Therefore, if the details of employment, set out above change in any way, Members must make a notification of those changes.

Notification under Standing Order 3.1 (initial notification) or Standing Order 3.5 (changes in details) must be made by completing and signing the form which has been prescribed by the Presiding Officer. This form may be submitted to the Table Office either electronically or in hard copy.

Rules and Guidance on the Use of Senedd Resources
  • Last updated: 9 June 2021
  • Owner: Senedd Commission Accounting Officer
  • Contact: Members' Engagement Team
  • PDF Files

These Rules and Guidance consist of the following three sections and should be considered in their entirety:

 

Status of the Rules and Guidance

1. These Rules are issued under the authority of the Code of Conduct for Senedd Members, Rule 8, by the Chief Executive and Clerk of the Senedd in their capacity as the principal accounting officer of the Senedd Commission under section 138 of the Government of Wales Act 2006.

2. As principal accounting officer the Chief Executive and Clerk is accountable for the regularity and propriety of the management of the public money provided to the Senedd Commission and the stewardship of its assets, in accordance with the responsibilities specified from time to time by the Treasury.

3. These Rules apply whenever a Member makes use of Commission resources (as defined in these Rules). Should the Chief Executive and Clerk have reasonable grounds for suspecting a failure to comply with these Rules then the Clerk is under a duty under section 9 of the National Assembly for Wales Commissioner for Standards Measure 2009, to refer those grounds to the Senedd Commissioner for Standards for investigation.

4. The Guidance set out after each Rule does not form part of the Rules but is intended to assist Members and Commission officials in following and applying the Rules and the Senedd Commissioner for Standards may have regard to the Guidance when a matter is referred for investigation.

5. Members should seek advice in advance from staff of the Senedd Commission where there is any doubt about whether a proposed activity is a permitted use of Commission resources.

6. Members should also bear in mind the provisions of Rule 16 relating to special provision that may be applied during election periods in addition to provisions in other Rules relating to election periods.

Interpretation

In these Rules and in the Guidance the following expressions are to be interpreted as follows:

“Commission resources” – means any resource whether financial or otherwise and includes resources provided to Members under the Determination;

“election period” – means any period when: (i) the Senedd is dissolved; (ii) the UK Parliament is dissolved; (iii) a referendum period as defined by section 102 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000; (iv) a notice of election has been issued for the election of councillors for a local government area; (v) a notice of election has been issued for the election of a Police and Crime Commissioner, or (vi) a by-election has been called by the giving of the requisite notice for a seat in the Senedd, the UK Parliament, or as a councillor;

“the Determination” – means the Determination of Members’ Pay and Allowances issued by the Independent Remuneration Board of the Senedd;

“Member’s duties” – means activity in relation to business in the Senedd and constituency or regional business undertaken in the public office of Member of the Senedd;

“Media operations” – means broadcasting, filming or recording by a Member (or any person or organisation on their behalf) carried out on any part of the Senedd estate;

“party political” – means anything that could be perceived by a fair minded and impartial observer as party political or seeking to achieve a particular result in an election or referendum (whether as a member of a registered political party or not), but does not include the discussion and deliberations by Members and their staff related to the political response to business before the Senedd including the business of the political groups within the Senedd, or the use of logos or branding in accordance with these Rules.

The Rules and Guidance

Rule 1 – Personal accountability

Members are personally accountable for the use of Commission resources made available to them.

Guidance

Members are personally responsible for all the expenses they incur or the resources used in their name. Members may delegate the organisation and carrying out of activities to others, such as members of their staff, but Members should bear in mind that when they put in place such arrangements they remain personally accountable for the use of Commission resources provided to them.

 

Rule 2 – Value for money, sustainability and reputational obligations

In making use of Commission resources Members must act prudently and have regard to:

a) the need to secure value for money in the expenditure of public funds;

b) the Commission's obligations in discharging its function in relation to securing equality of opportunity for all people and the promotion of sustainable development; and

c) the good name and reputation of the Senedd.

Guidance

Members must make use of the Commission resources made available to them prudently and within the limitations of the overall resources made available to Members.

This Rule extends to Members’ expenditure on travel and attention is drawn to the “Principles for Commission expenditure on travel by Members” and the travel allowances set by the Determination.

 

Rule 3 – The employment of staff funded by Commission resources

Staff employed by Members must, during the time they are contracted to work which is  remunerated with Commission resources, only undertake work in connection with a Member’s duties.

Guidance

This Rule applies to Members’ staff remunerated with Commission resources.

The use of staff funded through Commission resources must be within the provisions of these Rules. Without prejudice to the generality of this Rule, the use of staff for any of the following activities would breach this Rule and so are prohibited:

a) Personal, business or commercial activities or communications;

b) Party political activity;

c) Other activities resulting in financial gain to the Member or any other person.

The application of this rule means that Support staff employed by a Member must not be actively engaged in campaigning as part of their contracted hours of work. There is no Commission restriction on staff undertaking such activity outside their contracted working hours, while on annual leave or while on unpaid special leave. Any periods of unpaid special leave must be notified to Members’ Business Support in advance in order that the appropriate financial adjustment may be made.

It is recognised that maintaining a strict separation between business that properly relates to Member’s duties and something that falls within the definition of “party political” can sometimes be difficult. While this Rule is intended to be strictly observed, therefore, an incidental reference to something party political during the otherwise proper conduct of a Member’s duties is unlikely to amount to a breach of this Rule.

Members may, on occasion, also hold another elected political office (for, example they may also be a local councillor) at the same time as they hold office as a Member. Where this arises, Members should ensure that staff do not carry out work  during their contracted hours on business which properly relates to such other elected  office and for which resources may be provided by the body that the Member is also elected to serve on.

Similarly, where a member of a Member’s staff holds elected political office on another body then the Member is responsible for ensuring that the member of staff does not undertake work related to that elected office during the working hours for which they are remunerated from Senedd resources.

 

Rule 4 – Items and facilities acquired with Commission resources or provided by the Commission

(1)  Items and facilities acquired with Commission resources or provided by the Commission for the use of Members must only be used in connection with a Member’s duties.

(2)  Items acquired with Commission resources become and remain the property of the Commission and are to be returned promptly when requested.

(3)  Items provided by the Commission for the use of Members must be used in accordance with the Commission’s conditions relating to their use specified from time to time.

Guidance

This rule applies to items and services that Members acquire with Commission resources or are provided by the Commission for the use of Members (for example, ICT equipment and contracts with service providers).

Without prejudice to the generality of this Rule, the use of items or facilities for any of the following activities would breach this Rule and so are prohibited:

a) Personal, business or commercial activities or communications;

b) Party political activity;

c) Other activities resulting in financial gain to the Member or any other person.

Rule 4(3) covers, in particular, the ICT equipment is provided by the Commission subject to the ICT Security and Usage Rules (under review in preparation for the Sixth Senedd) and which allows limited incidental personal internet, email and telephone usage.

Members should be mindful that  items acquired with Commission resources become and remain the property of the Commission and they and their staff should take good care of such items accordingly. Members are accountable, in particular, for returning items when they cease to hold office.

The Guidance to Rule 3 relating to the situation where a Member holds another elected political office, or a member of their staff holds an elected political office, also applies to the use of items and facilities covered by this Rule.

 

Rule 5 – Observance of financial procedures

Members must observe the financial procedures, and arrangements to counter fraud, in connection with the expenditure and use of Commission resources communicated to Members by the Commission from time to time.

Guidance

This Rule requires adherence to the arrangements and procedures specified by the Commission and/or the Determination (which is communicated to Members through the Commission, including by the Commission Members’ intranet) to include (but without prejudice to the generality of this Rule) year-end guidance, financial loss details, anti-fraud measures, arrangements about the creation and retention of records (such as the purpose and detail of travel, staff working hours and receipts and invoices relating to purchases) and providing information and submitting claims promptly when requested to do so, details required for the Commission’s accounting or audit purposes, or other purposes for which financial information can properly be required e.g. in connection with a standards investigation.

 

Rule 6 – Data protection

Members must comply with applicable law relating to the protection of data and information when using Commission resources.  

 

Rule 7 – Equal treatment of constituents in using Commission resources

Members must treat all constituents equally when engaging or corresponding with them using Commission resources.

In this Rule, "equally" means irrespective of the actual or suspected party political opinions or allegiance of constituents.

Guidance

Members must exercise care and judgement in the production of materials, in whatever format, to ensure that the content does not breach this Rule and Rules 8 to 14 below.

 

Rule 8 – Communication and engagement with constituents using Commission resources

Communication and engagement by Members with their constituents using Commission resources must:

a) not be party political,

b) not be of a nature that could otherwise be perceived by a fair minded and impartial observer as campaigning for a particular result in an election or referendum,

c) adhere to the Guidance on the application of this Rule to the use of party symbols, logos or other branding, and

d) state clearly that it is funded by the Commission from public funds.

Guidance

Members are reminded that under Rule 1 they are personally accountable for the use of Commission Resources and thus for any communication or engagement activity carried out with Commission resources provided to them.

Should the Determination make provision from time to time for the  provision for stationery (general office needs and personalised printed), and printing, copying, and postal resources for (1) surgery notices, (2) circulars sent either in response to requests for further information from recipients of circulars; or (3) circulars sent to signatories of a petition addressed to a Member, then such provision will be subject to this Rule.

Members attention is drawn to the definition of “party political”. Members should also consult the Determination which makes provision for support for constituent engagement to promote their work as a Member.

The use of discreet party logos is allowed in permitted printed material for constituent engagement, including personalised stationery, but advertising, content or materials produced must not give the impression that they have been funded by a political party and not be used in such a way that they could be perceived by a fair minded and impartial observer as campaigning for a political party or individual.

 

Rule 9 – Official Languages Scheme

Communication and engagement activity using Commission resources must be in accordance with the Official Languages Scheme.

Guidance

The Scheme can be found at here

 

Rule 10 – Members' websites

A Member’s website must only be used in connection with a Member’s duties if it is built or maintained using Commission resources and a Member will reimburse the Commission promptly upon being required to do so, in the event that a Member is found to have breached this Rule.

Guidance

The requirement that a website must only be used in connection with a Member’s duties excludes party political content. However the following content, which identifies the Member for the benefit of visitors to the website, will not be considered party political content under this Rule:

a) Identification of a member’s party allegiance;

b) Displaying the logo or branding of the Member’s party;

c) Links on the website to one or more (separate) websites that carry party political content. The Member’s website should make clear that the links lead to websites that are not hosted by the Member and are not funded from Commission resources.

 

Rule 11 – Social media activity

Members’ social media activity undertaken with Commission resources must be directly related to their Member’s duties and must not be party political.

Guidance

Commission resources are not to be used to create, advertise or promote content that is party political. Promoting social media activity, for example the use of Facebook (including the “boosting” of Facebook posts) or Twitter Ads, is within this Rule only if the post is directly related to Member’s duties and is not party political. Targeting of the promotional activity must be directed at the constituency or region the Member represents.

 

Rule 12 – Media operations

Media operations:

a) must not disrupt other activities on the Senedd estate or impede visitor access;

b) must not take place in the Siambr, committee rooms, public galleries, or other areas to which general public access is restricted unless approved in advance by the Llywydd;

c) if they have party political content can only take place in the publicly accessible areas of the Senedd estate or within a Member’s own or their party group’s offices;

d) may not take place anywhere on the Senedd estate during an election period.

Guidance

The definition of party political activity means that campaigning for votes is not allowed anywhere on the Senedd estate.

The consent of the Llywydd should be sought through the Media Office.

 

Rule 13 – Sponsoring of events

Members must not sponsor or organise events on the Senedd estate that involve:

a) personal, business or commercial activities or communications;

b) party political activity, including use of party logos or branding, or campaigning for a particular result in an election or referendum;

c) fund-raising of any kind or for which any charge is made for persons attending;

d) events, exhibitions or displays of material that in the opinion of the Clerk of the Senedd is likely to cause offence (having regard to the terms of the Senedd Dignity and Respect Policy in force at the time);

e) general meetings (whether annual or extraordinary) of external organisations;

f) other activities resulting in financial gain to the Member or any other person.

Guidance

When sponsoring events Members should recall that the use of the Senedd estate by Members for events is to enable the Senedd to be a pioneering legislature that puts the voice of the people of Wales at the heart of what we do through meaningful engagement and the conduct of Senedd business.

The Senedd Dignity and Respect Policy can be accessed here.

 

Rule 14 – Booking of meeting rooms

Members may not book meeting rooms on the Senedd estate for party political business.

Guidance

Members’ attention is drawn to:

a) the definition of “party political” in these rules.

b) the provisions of Rule 16 which deals with special arrangements which may apply during an election period.

It is recognised that maintaining a strict separation between business that properly relates to Members duties and something that falls within the definition of “party political” can sometimes be difficult. While this Rule is intended to be strictly observed, therefore, an incidental reference to something party political during otherwise proper business in a meeting room is unlikely to amount to a breach of this Rule.

 

Rule 15 – Security vetting

The use of Commission resources, other than by Members or their partners (as defined in Standing Order 3.2(ii)), is restricted to persons who have first been security vetted at the appropriate level.

Guidance

Members' employees must all be security vetted before they begin work, whether based in Tŷ Hywel or elsewhere.

 

Rule 16 – Election periods: special arrangements to apply

During an election period Members must observe any additional restrictions on the use of Commission resources, the Senedd estate or the conduct of media operations during such period specified by the Commission.

Guidance

Elections and referendums are periods of heightened political sensitivity, necessitating restrictions to ensure that Commission resources and the Senedd estate are not used for the benefit of a political party or individual candidate. Such measures will be notified by the Commission to Members and to the chiefs of staff (or equivalent) of each political party.

Rules for the operation of Cross-Party Groups
  • Last updated: 5 May 2021 (to reflect change of name)
  • Owner: Committee responsible for Standards of Conduct
  • Contact: Clerk to the Committee responsible for Standards of Conduct
  • PDF Files

Further information on Cross-Party Groups can be found here.

These Rules include the section subsequent to the text and should be considered in their entirety:

 

1. Introduction

1. Cross-Party Groups are widely recognised as a valuable part of the democratic process. It is equally important that there is openness and transparency in the way that groups operate.

2. These rules for the operation of Cross-Party Groups replace the 'Presiding Officers' Guidelines on the Formation of Cross-Party Groups', which were made on 10 March 2004.

3. All existing Senedd Cross-Party Groups are subject to these new Rules from the date on which they come into effect.

2. Definition and Status

4. The purpose of Senedd Cross-Party Groups is to provide a forum for Members of the Senedd from different parties to meet in order to consider and discuss shared interests in particular subjects.

5. Cross-Party Groups are not formal Senedd groupings and are not, therefore, bound by any of the Senedd's Standing Orders. They have no formal role in policy development.

6. Cross-Party Groups may be set up by Members in respect of any subject area relevant to the Senedd, but should not attempt to replicate the functional areas covered by Senedd committees, nor do they have any of the powers of a Senedd Committee (e.g. they cannot summon witnesses or Ministers to attend meetings or to provide documentation, and they cannot use the Senedd for Wales logo or branding).

3. Membership

7. A Group must include Members from at least three political party groups represented within the Senedd

8. Groups may also include members from outside the Senedd Membership of individuals from outside the Senedd is at the discretion of the Group.

4. Election of Office Holders

9. Each group should elect a Chair and a Secretary.

10. The Chair of the Group must be a Member of the Senedd. The Group's Secretary may be a Member of the Senedd, a Member's support Staff, or an individual from outside the Senedd. However, in the case of the group appointing a Secretary who is not an Member of the Senedd, that person must not act without the prior approval of the Chair of the Group, and all notices, correspondence, documentation and other arrangements relating to the activities of the Group must be issued in the name of the Chair.

11. A group must normally meet to elect its office-holders. It is expected that office holders will initially be elected at an inaugural annual general meeting. However, office holders may also be elected at other meetings of the group. Following any election of an office-holder, the Chair of the group should notify the change within four weeks, using the registration form at annex A.

5. Registration

12. Following the holding of an inaugural AGM or election of office-holders by another means, Cross-Party Groups should register using the appropriate registration form. The form must be signed by the group's Chair and list the membership, which must include at least two other Members of the Senedd from two other party groups within the Senedd, and names of all Members of the group who are not Members of the Senedd.

13. The details on the registration forms will be published by Senedd Commission officials on the relevant Cross-Party Groups' section of the Senedd's website.

14. For the purposes of holding an Annual General Meeting, existing Senedd Cross-Party Groups will be expected to hold an AGM within 12 months of the date of these rules coming into effect. Groups registered after this date will be expected to hold an AGM within 12 months of registration.

6. Re-registration of Cross-Party Groups after a period of dissolution

15. Groups must re-register at the start of each new Senedd following elections.

7. Recording changes

16. The Chair of the group is responsible for notifying any changes to group details, including changes to office holders, by submitting an amended registration form. Changes should be notified within four weeks of coming into effect, and will be published on the relevant Cross-Party Groups' section of the Senedd's website.

Holding Meetings

8. Use of Senedd Facilities and resources

17. Cross-Party Groups do not take precedence over formal Senedd business and so will have access to the Senedd's accommodation facilities only subject to availability.

18. Senedd Building room bookings for Cross-Party Group meetings must be made by the Chair of the Group. That Member of the Senedd will also be responsible for all meeting arrangements including meeting and escorting external members of the Group within the Senedd Building.

19. Cross-Party Groups do not have access to any of the Senedd Commission staffing services such as committee services, with the exception of Welsh to English simultaneous interpretation at meetings held on the Senedd Estate. This may be provided if requested by the Chair of the Group.

20. Cross-Party Groups must respect the limitations on the use of Senedd facilities and resources. Members may make reasonable use of the Senedd's telephone, fax, photocopying, IT facilities and Senedd stationery in pursuit of Cross-Party business or in order to fulfil the requirements of these rules, e.g. to provide information for publication on the Senedd's website.

21. The Chair of the Cross-Party Group will be responsible for ensuring that the group complies with the rules on use of Senedd facilities and resources. Outside organisations and individuals associated with Cross-Party Groups are not entitled to use the Senedd's resources.

9. Provision of information in the Official Languages of the Senedd

22. All information provided by the Senedd Commission about Cross-Party Groups that is required to be published on the Senedd's website under these rules, will be available in English and Welsh subject to the provisions of the Senedd (Official Languages) Act 2012 and related Senedd Commission Official Languages Scheme. This includes membership, meeting dates and venues, minutes of all meetings including the Annual General Meeting, and the annual financial statement.

23. Arrangements for translating any Cross-Party Group documentation that is not required to be published on the Senedd's website must be made by the Cross-Party Group itself.

10. Senedd Access Fund

24. The Access Fund has been established to ensure that Members of the Senedd have the necessary support to engage with constituents with diverse needs, and provide additional support to disabled Members and disabled support staff.

25. The Access Fund may not be used for the provision of text translation into the Senedd's official languages or Welsh to English interpretation for Member-sponsored events which are organised by external bodies.

26. If the Chair of a Cross Party Group considers that the CPG needs support to allow it to engage with constituents with diverse needs, for example to interpret a language that is not an official language of the Senedd, and this support cannot be provided from within the group's own membership, then they may wish to submit a business case to Members' Business Support for access to the Fund. Full guidance on the Access Fund can be found on the Members‟ Intranet. In submitting a business case for financial support the Chair should give consideration to the status of Cross-Party Groups, which do not constitute formal Senedd proceedings.

11. Advance Notice of Meetings

27. It will normally be for the Chair of the Group to undertake publicising meeting times, venues etc. If this is delegated to the group's Secretary, then that person must only act with the prior approval of the Chair of the Group, and all notices, correspondence, documentation and other arrangements relating to the activities of the Group must be issued in the name of the Chair.

28. The Chair of the Group should provide details of meeting times and venues to the designated Senedd Commission officials in order for these to be published on the Cross-Party Groups section of the website.

12. Financial Rules and Registering Interests

29. There will be no Senedd budget to cover the running costs of Cross-Party Groups, with the exception of provisions under sections 8-10 above. The members of the group must meet any other such costs themselves.

30. Cross-Party Groups must bear in mind the integrity of the Senedd in considering the acceptance of any monies, gifts, hospitality etc. from outside bodies. In particular, individual Members are required to comply with the rules on registration and declaration of financial interests in connection with any activity they undertake within, or on behalf of, Cross-Party Groups – as set out in Standing Order 2.

31. In particular Section 5 of the Annex to Standing Order 2 sets out the registrable interests. This includes; "(iv) gifts, hospitality, material benefits or advantage above a value specified in any resolution of the Senedd…" and "(v) any remuneration or other material benefit which a Member [...] receives from any public or private company or other body which has tendered for, is tendering for, or has, a contract with the Senedd."

32. The Senedd resolved on 10 May 2006 that the specified financial values above which gifts, hospitality and any other benefits must be registered/declared is 0.5 per cent of the basic gross annual Senedd salary for a Member of the Senedd. Under the current Determination this amounts to anything over £269.26 (0.5 per cent of £53,852).

33. A Member of the Senedd who takes part in Senedd proceedings without having complied with the rules on registration of interests commits a criminal offence under section 36 of the Government of Wales Act 2006.

34. In addition to the requirement for individual Members of Cross-Party Groups to register any monies, gifts, hospitality or other benefits from outside bodies in the Senedd's Register of Interests (in accordance with Standing Order 2), the Cross-Party Group's Annual Report should list all benefits received by the group as a whole, or its individual Members, from outside bodies. This includes any secretariat or other support or services provided to the group.

35. Members are also reminded of the provisions of Standing Order 2.8, which prohibits lobbying for reward or recognition and which, under Section 36 of the Government of Wales Act is a criminal offence. Lobbying for reward and recognition is defined in Standing Orders as advocating or initiating "any cause or matter on behalf of any body or individual in any proceedings of the Senedd, or "urging any other Member to advocate or initiate any cause or matter in any such proceedings, in return for any payment or benefit in kind, direct or indirect, which the Member, or to the Member's knowledge his or her spouse, has received or expects to receive."

13. Annual General Meeting and Annual Report and Financial Statement

36. The Chair of the Cross-Party Group must call an Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the group every 12 months, at which the group must nominate and vote for office holders (see 'Election of Office Holders' section above). The election of office holders must take place formally at the AGM even if office holder(s) have already been appointed at a recent meeting.

37. The first meeting of the group will be its inaugural AGM. After each subsequent AGM the Chair of the Cross-Party Group must, within six weeks, issue an Annual Report and Financial Statement. This report must include:

the membership of the group and names of its office-holders;

the number of times the group has met since the last AGM, who attended, and a summary of the issues discussed;

all professional lobbyists, and voluntary or charitable organisations with whom the group has met during the preceding year; and

an Annual Financial Statement setting out the group's expenses, benefits and hospitality received. The statement must include a breakdown of costs of all goods and services provided, and benefits received, and the names of the provider(s).

38. The Annual Report and Financial Statement must be published on the Cross-Party Groups‟ section of the Senedd's website.

14. Minutes of Meetings

39. The Chair of the Cross-Party Group will be responsible for ensuring that the minutes of every meeting of the group are provided to the designated Senedd Commission officials within four weeks of the meeting taking place. The minutes must include details of where the meeting was held, who attended the meeting, including the names and titles of group office-holders such as the Chair and Secretary, group members and external visitors or guests, and a brief description of the issues discussed. The minutes will be published on the relevant Cross-Party Groups' section of the Senedd's website.

15. Compliance with the Rules

40. While all Members of the Senedd who are members of a Cross-Party Group have a responsibility to ensure that the group conducts itself properly, the Chair of the Group, as signatory of the registration form, will be held primarily responsible for ensuring that the group complies with the rules.

41. Failure to comply with, or contravention of the rules on Cross-Party Groups covering registration, election of office-holders, holding of AGMs or provision of information required by the rules, could lead to withdrawal of recognition of the group on the authority of the Presiding Officer (the group would be de-registered and all details removed from the Senedd's website).

42. Any Member who has a concern about the interpretation of the rules should consult the Senedd Commission official(s) responsible for handling registration of Cross-Party Groups in the first instance.

43. Any complaint concerning personal standards of conduct, the proper use of Senedd resources and/or the proper registration of interests in accordance with Standing Order 2, in relation to a Member's involvement in Cross-Party Group activity, will be handled by the Standards Commissioner and Standards of Conduct Committee in accordance with the Senedd's Procedure for Dealing with Complaints against Members of the Senedd. This may lead to sanctions being imposed on an individual Member.

44. The Standards of Conduct Committee may from time to time consider a paper from the Commission officials dealing with the registration of information about the activities of Cross-Party Group and, if necessary make recommendations to the Presiding Officer concerning compliance with these rules.

Agreed by Assembly resolution on 26 June 2013.

Guidance on lobbying and access to Members of the Senedd
  • Last updated: 5 May 2021 (to reflect change of name)
  • Owner: Committee responsible for Standards of Conduct
  • Contact: Clerk to the Committee responsible for Standards of Conduct
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1. This guidance is intended to supplement and complement the requirements of the Senedd's Code of Conduct on the Standards of Conduct for Members of the Senedd.

2. A Member of the Senedd should not, in relation to contact with any person or organisation who lobbies, do anything which contravenes the Senedd's Code of Conduct on the Standards of Conduct for Members of the Senedd, or any other relevant rule or resolution of the Senedd or any statutory provision.

3. A Member should not, in relation to contact with any person or organisation who lobbies, act in any way which could bring the Senedd, or its Members generally, into disrepute.

4. The public must be assured that no person or organisation will gain better access to, or treatment by, any Member as a result of employing a professional lobbyist either as a representative or to provide strategic advice. In particular, a Member should not offer or accord preferential access or treatment to professional lobbyists or their employers. Nor should professional lobbyists or their employers be given to understand that preferential access or treatment might be forthcoming from another Member of the Senedd or group or person within, or connected with the Senedd.

5. Before taking any action as a result of being lobbied, a Member should be satisfied about the identity of the person or organisation who is lobbying and the motive for lobbying. A Member of the Senedd may choose to act in response to a professional lobbyist but it is important that the Member knows the basis on which the Member is being lobbied in order to ensure that any action the Member takes complies with the standards set out in the Code of Conduct for Members of the Senedd.

6. There is currently no voluntary or statutory scheme for registering professional lobbyists operating in Wales. Before agreeing to meet with a person or organisation that the Member believes may be a professional lobbyist, the Member may wish to find out whether the lobbyist is a member of a professional body registering information about who its members represent, and which has a professional code of conduct for its members. This would include public affairs bodies such as Public Affairs Cymru (PAC) and the Association of Professional Political Consultants (APPC). If the lobbyist is not a member of such a professional body, the Member must decide whether or not to meet with that individual. [For the purposes of this guidance, a 'professional lobbyist' would include 'all those who undertake lobbying activity, i.e. activity aimed at seeking to influence Members, on a professional basis and in a paid role'. This includes in-house lobbyists, charities, trades associations and other organisations that employ staff to undertake lobbying activity, individual lobbyists, as well as consultancies and agencies that either lobby directly on behalf of clients or advise their clients on undertaking lobbying activity].

7. In addition, Members should consider taking one or more of the following steps:

  • keeping a record of all meetings with persons considered to be undertaking lobbying activity;
  • requiring the person undertaking the lobbying activity to make a record of the meeting, and provide for the Member to have access to that record at any future time should it be called for, before agreeing to meet with them; and
  • arranging for a member of their support staff to take notes at any meetings with persons considered to be undertaking lobbying activity.

8. The Code of Conduct on the Standards of Conduct for Members of the Senedd sets out the standards expected in relation to acceptance of hospitality, gifts and benefits. In addition to this and the statutory provisions in the Government of Wales Act 2006, Members:

  • should not accept any paid work which would involve them lobbying on behalf of any person or organisation or any clients of a person or organisation;
  • should not accept any paid work to provide services as a parliamentary strategist, adviser or consultant, for example advising on Senedd affairs or on how to influence the Senedd and its Members. (This does not prevent a Member from being remunerated for activity which may arise because of, or in relation to, membership of the Senedd, such as journalism or broadcasting, involving political comment or involvement in representative or presentational work, such as participation in delegations, conferences or other events); and
  • should decline all but the most insignificant or incidental hospitality, benefit or gift if the Member is aware that it is offered by a professional lobbyist. Standards of personal conduct and general principles of conduct identified by the Committee on Standards in Public Life are set out in the Code of Conduct on Standards of Conduct for Members of the Senedd. These include the requirement that a Member should "never accept any financial inducement as an incentive or reward for exercising parliamentary influence", the "no paid advocacy" rule, and "not to place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might influence them in the performance of their official duties." Since the basis on which many people believe that professional lobbyists sell their services is by claiming to provide clients with influence over decision-makers, it might reasonably be thought that acceptance of a benefit of any significance from such a source could influence a Member's judgement in carrying out their official duties. (If a Member only becomes aware of its source after receiving hospitality, a benefit or gift, then the Member should consider reimbursing the costs of any hospitality or benefit or returning any gift.)

9. Members may participate in events for which others are charged a fee to attend. Participation, for example, in a conference or seminar for which delegates are charged a fee may be a useful means of a Member gathering a range of views on a topic. There could be some concern, however, that events falling into this category could be a means of 'buying' access to Members of the Senedd. It is important that there should be no grounds for such a perception. No preferential treatment should, therefore, be offered or accorded any person or organisation as a result of having made initial contact with a Member of the Senedd at such an event.

10. Members should not participate in any event if they are aware, or become aware, that the organisers are promoting the event on the basis that those paying to attend the event are "buying" influence over Members of the Senedd or that they can expect to receive better subsequent access to, or treatment by Members, than would be accorded to any other person or organisation.

11. When agreeing to sponsor the hosting of any event, meeting or exhibition on the Senedd estate, Members must at all times comply with the requirements of both the Senedd Events Guidelines and the Terms and Conditions for events, which are sent to event organisers and copied to the sponsoring Member. The sponsoring Member or their representative must attend the event, exhibition or meeting, and responsibility for the event rests with the Member who is sponsoring the booking.

12. Members should ensure that staff working for them are aware of and apply these rules and guidelines when acting on a Member's behalf or in any connection with the Senedd.

Guidance agreed by Assembly resolution on 26 June 2013.

Code on Different Roles and Responsibilities of Constituency Members and Regional Members
  • Last updated: May 2021 (to reflect change of name)
  • Owner: Committee responsible for Standards of Conduct
  • Contact: Clerk to the Committee responsible for Standards of Conduct
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Introduction and Statutory Framework

1. This code has been drafted by the Committee on Standards of Conduct, in accordance with section 36(6) of the Government of Wales Act 2006 and Standing Order 1.10.

2. Section 36(6) provides that standing orders must include provision about (or for the making of a code or protocol about) the different roles and responsibilities of Senedd constituency members and Senedd regional members and that – (a) Senedd constituency members must not describe themselves in a manner which suggests that they are Senedd regional members, and (b) Senedd regional members must not describe themselves in a manner which suggests that they are Senedd constituency members.

3. Accordingly, Standing Order 1.10 provides that the Committee on Standards of Conduct must draft, and the Senedd must make, a code or protocol, in accordance with section 36(6) of the Act, about the different roles and responsibilities of constituency Members and regional Members. The code or protocol must include provision in line with five specified key principles (SO1.10 (i)-(v)) and which must include provision for nine matters set out in the Annex to Standing Order 1.

4. The Code must therefore by read in the light of the following five key principles:

(i) all Members have a duty to be accessible to the people of the areas for which they have been elected to serve and to represent their interests conscientiously;

(ii) in approaching the Member of their choice, the wishes of constituents and/or the interests of a constituency or locality are of paramount importance;

(iii) all Members have equal status;

(iv) Members should not misrepresent the basis on which they are elected nor the area they serve; and

(v) no Member should deal with a constituency case or constituency issue that is not within his or her constituency or region (as the case may be), unless by prior agreement.

5. In accordance with the Annex to Standing Order 1 the Code makes provision in nine areas:

Describing Members

"Provision for regional and constituency Members to describe themselves accurately and for requirements regarding the use of Senedd resources, for example, stationery."

6. Members should not misrepresent the basis on which they are elected or the area they serve.

7. Regional Members and constituency Members must describe themselves accurately so as not to confuse those with whom they deal.

8. Constituency Members should always describe themselves as: "[Name], Member of the Senedd for [x] constituency" or [Name], M.S. for [x] constituency."

9. Regional Members should always describe themselves as: "[Name], Member of the Senedd for [y] region" or "[Name], M.S. for [y] region."

10. Regional Members must not describe themselves as a "local" Member for or having a particular interest in only part of the region for which they were elected.

11. Constituency Members should not describe themselves as the sole MS for a particular area or constituency.

12. Members should take note of guidance issued by the Presiding Officer regarding the use of Senedd resources, for example, stationery, including guidance issued as appropriate in the context of a period prior to an election.

Dealing with Constituency/Regional Issues

"Provision for Members to be able to take up a matter affecting the constituency or region for which they were elected whilst ensuring that courtesy is shown on matters affecting more than one constituency."

13. Any Member of the Senedd is entitled to take an interest in or take up a matter affecting the constituency or region for which that Member was elected. MSs may wish to contact one another, as a matter of courtesy, where they are involved or planning to become involved in a major local issue, which affects more than one constituency area or region.

Individual Constituents' Cases

"Provision to protect the right of a constituent to approach his or her constituency Member, and/or any of the four regional Members elected in his or her region."

14. The basic principle is that the wishes of the constituent are paramount. Every constituent is represented by one constituency Member and four regional Members. It is for each constituent to decide whether to approach his or her constituency Member or any of the regional Members elected in his or her region and request that Member to take on a case. Constituents can approach any of the Members of the Senedd (constituency or regional) elected to represent them as all MSs have equal formal and legal status. Having agreed to take on a case, each MS must then take into account the wishes of the constituent in deciding how best to progress a case.

15. It is expected that each Member will take on a case when approached although it is recognised that there may be legitimate reasons for a Member to decline a constituent's case e.g. if that case seeks action which would represent a conflict of interest with existing casework or is contrary to the Member's political beliefs. If so, the Member would ordinarily be expected to inform the constituent that the Member is not taking up the case.

16. In very exceptional circumstances, it may be appropriate for an MS to pursue an issue on behalf of a person who does not reside in that MS's constituency or region. Before doing so, an MS must be satisfied that there are circumstances which make it genuinely impractical or inappropriate for the issue to be taken up by one of the MSs who represent the person in question. Where such circumstances arise, an MS who proposes to takes up the matter on behalf of such a person must, notify the MSs who represent that person, must provide an explanation and must seek the agreement of those MSs. Since such a course of action will only be appropriate in very exceptional circumstances it is possible that the information which it will be appropriate to provide by way of explanation in such a case may be limited. An MS may not take such a matter up without the agreement of the MSs who represent the person in question. MSs should not withhold agreement unreasonably.

Raising Matters with a Member of the Government

"Provision to ensure that any Member is entitled to raise with the relevant member of the government a matter on behalf of a constituent in the area (constituency or region) for which they were elected."

17. Any Member is entitled to raise with the relevant Minister in the Welsh Government a matter on behalf of a constituent in the area for which that MS was elected.

18. MSs are reminded of the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998 when processing personal data and sensitive personal data. (Particularly strict rules apply to the processing of sensitive personal data.) Members should not provide personal data or sensitive personal data about a constituent without the agreement of the constituent. In corresponding with Ministers or other agencies, MSs must ensure that any initial written or oral communication makes clear the basis upon which any personal data or sensitive personal data about a constituent is being provided.

Members Operating in their Areas

"Provision reflecting the expectation that Members will work throughout the area (constituency or region) for which they were elected."

19. It is expected that Members will work throughout the area (constituency or region) for which they were elected.

School Visits

"Provision for notifying Members about official school visits to the Senedd organised by the Commission."

20. When schools and colleges are invited to visit the Senedd by the External Communications Service that service will notify the relevant Members (constituency and region). The level of participation in visits is at the Member's own discretion.

NB: These provisions do not cover visits arranged by individual Members.

Telephone Enquiries

"Provision to guide the way in which telephone enquiries from members of the public to the Senedd's switchboard, seeking to contact a Member, are dealt with."

21. Members of the public calling the switchboard for a particular Member (constituency or regional) will be put through only to the Member concerned. If the Member is unavailable, the person calling will be given the option of leaving a message. In approaching the Member of their choice, the wishes of constituents are of paramount importance. Members of the public who do not know the name of the Member they wish to speak to will be put through to the Senedd Information Line. The Information Line enters the caller's postcode onto the constituency locator and information is given on the names of their constituency and regional Members. The member of the public will then decide which Member to be put through to.

Members' Staff

"Provision that Members should ensure that staff working for them, both within the Senedd and locally, including others working on their behalf with constituents, are aware of and act in accordance with Standing Order 1.10 and any code or protocol drawn up as a result of it."

22. Members should ensure that staff working for them, both within the Senedd and locally, including others working on their behalf with constituents, are aware of and act in accordance with Standing Order 1.10 and this Code.

Enforcement

"Provision for any complaint against a Member in respect of the code or protocol to be referred to the Committee on Standards of Conduct."

23. Any complaint against a Member in respect of the Code should be made to the Commissioner for Standards in accordance with the Senedd's procedure for dealing with complaints against Members of the Senedd (the Complaints Procedure). The complaint will be handled in accordance with the Complaints Procedure. If the Commissioner considers that the complaint is admissible, the Commissioner will proceed to a Formal Investigation into the complaint and will make a report to the Committee on Standards of Conduct.

Procedure for dealing with complaints against Members of the Senedd
  • Last updated: May 2021
  • Owner: Committee responsible for Standards of Conduct
  • Contact: Clerk of the Committee responsible for Standards of Conduct
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1. General provisions

Administrative Arrangements

1.1. Complaints should be made to the Commissioner for Standards ("the Commissioner"), who is an independent statutory officer appointed under the National Assembly for Wales Commissioner for Standards Measure 2009 ("the Measure"). The Commissioner's Office will log the correspondence and send a letter to acknowledge receipt to the complainant. The letter will explain that this does not necessarily mean that the complaint is admissible and that the complaint can only be considered formally if the complainant is prepared for the details to be released to the Committee and the Member complained of.

Investigations

1.2. Investigations under this procedure must be conducted by the Commissioner in accordance with the Measure.

1.3. When the office of the Commissioner is vacant or the Commissioner is, for any reason, unable to act, the Senedd may appoint a person as an Acting Commissioner to discharge the functions of that office. Further provisions on the appointment of an Acting Commissioner are set out in Section 4 of the Measure.

Stages

1.4. There are two possible stages to any investigation by the Commissioner into a complaint:

Preliminary Investigation Stage which consists of investigating and determining whether a complaint is admissible; and if the complaint be admissible,

Formal Investigation Stage which consists of further investigation of the complaint, and reporting upon it to the Committee on Standards of Conduct.

Conduct of Investigations

1.5. Subject to the provisions of the procedure, it is for the Commissioner to decide when and how to carry out any investigation at each stage.

1.6. Each stage of an investigation into a complaint must be conducted in private. However the Commissioner may at any time make a report to the Committee as to the progress of an investigation into a complaint and must do so if the formal investigation has not been completed within six months of the Commissioner finding that the complaint is admissible.

1.7. If investigation of a complaint is on-going at the start of a Senedd election period, it will be suspended and will re-commence at the end of that election period. Consideration of a complaint against a Member who is re-elected will be concluded in accordance with this procedure.

1.8. In the case of a Member who is not re-elected the sanctions which can be applied in the case of a finding of a breach are restricted and the Committee may take that into account when considering what action to take in relation to any report by the Commissioner on the complaint.

2. Preliminary investigation stage

2.1. At this stage, the Commissioner must investigate and determine whether a complaint is admissible within the terms of paragraph 3 below. The Commissioner may contact the complainant to elicit more details and to ascertain whether or not he or she is willing for his or her name to be released to the Member complained of and the Committee. The Commissioner may also, at his/her discretion, contact the Member complained of if the Commissioner believes that it is necessary to do so in order to decide whether the complaint is admissible.

2.2. If the Commissioner considers that the complaint is admissible, the Commissioner must proceed to a Formal Investigation into the complaint.

2.3. If the Commissioner considers that the complaint is inadmissible, the Commissioner must dismiss the complaint and must inform the complainant together with the reasons for that view.

3. Admissibility of complaints

3.1. A complaint is admissible under this procedure if:

(i) it is in writing, where the complainant is unable to make a complaint in writing, facilities will be made available through the Commissioner's office so that he or she can agree the terms of a written statement;

(ii) it is about the conduct of a Member of the Senedd;

(iii) it is not anonymous and clearly identifies the complainant in a way which provides for further communication with him/her;

(iv) it clearly identifies the Member of the Senedd complained of;

(v) it is made within one year from the date when the complainant could reasonably have become aware of the conduct complained about; and

(vi) it appears that there is enough substance to justify further investigation (i.e. there is enough evidence to suggest that the conduct complained about may have taken place, and if proved might amount to a breach of any of the matters encompassed within Standing Order 22.2(i)).

4. Formal investigation stage

4.1. At this stage, the Commissioner must investigate an admissible complaint with a view to:

(i) establishing the facts in relation to whether the Member concerned has committed the conduct complained about; and

(ii) reaching a conclusion as to whether that Member has, as a result of that conduct, breached one of the matters encompassed within Standing Order 22.2(i).

4.2. When a formal investigation into a complaint has been completed, the Commissioner must make a report to the Committee on Standards of Conduct. The report must include:

(i) details of the complaint;

(ii) details of the investigation carried out by the Commissioner;

(iii) the facts found by the Commissioner in relation to whether the Member concerned has committed the conduct complained about, and any facts provided by the Police, Crown Prosecution Service or the Courts in the case of evidence having been referred (see section on Criminal Offences);

(iv) the conclusion reached by the Commissioner as to whether that Member has, as a result of that conduct, breached one of the matters encompassed within Standing Order 22.2(i); but

(v) may not include any comment or recommendation as to what sanction, if any, should be imposed on the Member in question;

(vi) whether, in the Commissioner's view, the complaint raises any issues of general principle.

If, in the course of carrying out an investigation, the Commissioner becomes aware of any circumstances which give rise to issues of general principle or of general practice relevant to the Clerk's functions under Section 138 of the Act as principal accounting officer, or could, upon further consideration by the Clerk give rise to a duty on the Clerk under Section 9, the Commissioner must also separately communicate those circumstances in writing to the Clerk.

4.3. No report, concluding that a Member has breached one of the matters within Standing Order 22.2(i) may be made to the Committee unless the Member and the complainant have been given a copy of the draft report and an opportunity to comment on factual accuracy. If there is any comment that is not accepted by the Commissioner the report to the Committee must include details of those disputed facts.

4.4. Copies of the Commissioner's final report to the Committee of a formal investigation must be made available to the complainant and the Member complained of at the same time that it is provided to the Committee.

4.5. The Member complained of will be informed by the Committee that he or she has the right to:

(i) make written representations to the Committee within a specified time; and

(ii) to make oral representations at an oral hearing of the Committee.

4.6. The Commissioner's report remains confidential until the Committee has concluded its consideration of the complaint. Those sent copies of the report will be asked to respect this confidentiality.

5. Co-operation of Members

5.1. This procedure is based on the principle that Members of the Senedd will co-operate fully with any investigation into a complaint. Members are expected at all times to respond in person to any request from the Commissioner. If at any stage in the consideration of a complaint the Commissioner has reason to believe that any Member is not co-operating, the Commissioner may, having first given notice of the intention to do so to the Member complained of, report this view to the Committee on Standards of Conduct who may arrange for the report to be published and laid before the Senedd as soon as may be.

5.2. The making of such a report does not prevent the Commissioner or the Committee from continuing to consider the complaint in line with this procedure.

6. Criminal offences

6.1. If at any stage in the consideration of a complaint:

(i) evidence arises of conduct which could involve a breach of section 36(7) of the Government of Wales Act 2006 the Commissioner must inform the Clerk immediately. The Clerk must refer the papers concerned to the Police in accordance with the protocol agreed with the Police and Crown Prosecution Service.

(ii) evidence arises of conduct which could involve the commission of any other criminal offence, subject only to the expectation that such evidence will usually be referred to the Police, the Commissioner shall use his/her discretion in determining if, when, and by what mechanism the matter may be referred to the Police.

6.2. In such circumstances all consideration of the complaint under this procedure will be suspended until such time as the final outcome of any investigation of the matter by the Police, Crown Prosecution Service or the Courts is known.

7. Consideration by the Standards Committee

Initial Consideration

7.1. The Committee will meet first in private to consider the details of the complaint, but will make no findings of substance on the complaint at this stage. The purpose of the private meeting will be to consider whether, in light of the Commissioner's report, and any other written evidence that it considers appropriate:

(i) any witnesses should be invited to give evidence to the Committee at an oral hearing; and

(ii) the Committee should consider the complaint in public or private.

7.2. The Committee may also consider how it proposes that the Member or witnesses should be questioned.

7.3. The Commissioner for Standards may not attend this initial private meeting unless invited by the Committee.

7.4. In accordance with Standing Order 22.5, where a Committee Member is subject to a complaint he or she may take no part in any consideration of the complaint by the Committee. In such circumstances, another Member from the same political group may replace that member in accordance with the arrangements set out in Standing Orders.

Oral Hearing

7.5. The Committee will meet in private - unless it has decided, having taken into consideration the circumstances of the case and any advice received from the Commissioner for Standards or on behalf of the Senedd Clerk, that it should meet in public - to consider:

(i) any oral or written evidence or representations that the Member complained of wishes the Committee to consider; and

(ii) any oral or written evidence from witnesses.

7.6. The Commissioner may be invited to give evidence at the meeting at the discretion of the Chair.

7.7. At any oral hearing, the Member complained of, or any witnesses who choose to give evidence, may be accompanied by an adviser.

7.8. A verbatim transcript of the proceedings of any oral hearing will be provided. The general presumption is that the Committee will only ask questions of the Member or witnesses to clarify matters of fact. The Member or any witnesses would have the right to ask and have answered factual questions about procedural or technical matters; they do not have the right to question the Commissioner or the Committee about other matters.

7.9. If the Member or witnesses are accompanied, the Chair may give permission for that person to make oral representations and the same rules would apply.

Committee's Consideration of its Decision

7.10. Following any oral hearing, the Committee will meet in private to consider whether the Member is in breach of one of the matters encompassed within Standing Order 22.2(i) and what action if any it should advise the Senedd to take if a breach is found.

7.11. In order for the committee to take a decision to make a recommendation, as detailed at 7.11, a clear majority must exist in favour of the recommendation.

Committee's Recommendations

7.12. The Committee may take a decision:

(i) that no breach has been found and that the complaint is dismissed;

(ii) that a breach has been found but that it is a failure of such a minor nature that the complaint should be dismissed;

Or the Committee may decide, pending any appeal by the Member concerned, to recommend to the Senedd either:

(iii) that a breach has been found but that no further action should be taken;

(iv) that a breach has been found and that the Member should be "censured" in accordance with Standing Orders;

(v) that a breach has been found and that the Member should be excluded from Senedd proceedings ["Senedd proceedings" are defined in section 1(5) of the Government of Wales Act 2006 as "any proceedings of the Senedd, committees of the Senedd or sub-committees of such committees"] either generally or specifically, for example, proceedings at particular meetings of the Senedd or its committees, for a time to be specified time in the motion for exclusion, and in accordance with Standing Orders [In the case of a recommendation of exclusion, in accordance with Standing Orders this will automatically result in the withdrawal of a member's salary for the period of exclusion, but not to the withdrawal of any other allowances provided for under the Determination on Members' Pay and Allowances. The salary and allowances of staff employed by the Member concerned will not be affected];

(vi) that a breach has been found and that certain rights and privileges of membership of the Senedd should be withdrawn from the Member concerned; or

(vii) where deemed appropriate, any combination of the above sanctions may be applied.

The rights and privileges of membership of the Senedd that the Committee may recommend should be withdrawn will be as specified in the Committee's report to the Senedd, and may include:

  • withdrawal of a right of access as a member to the Senedd Estate;
  • exclusion from other activities which a member might normally have a right to attend; and/or
  • removal of representational, ceremonial and related privileges which a member might normally enjoy as a member.

Considerations

7.13. In deciding what sanction(s) to recommend to the Senedd, the Committee will make a judgement based on the specific circumstances of the case in question. It will consider the severity of the breach, the extent to which it may have brought the Senedd into disrepute, and whether the case in question is a repeat offence, or shows persistent conduct which may be considered to show contempt for Senedd colleagues, the rules or the institution. The Committee will also take account of intent, i.e. whether a breach is deemed to have been committed intentionally or not, and whether any dishonesty or deceit is deemed to have been involved.

8. Reporting and appeal procedure

8.1. As soon as may be following the Committee's decision the Member complained of must be provided with a copy of the Committee's report, which must be treated in confidence by all parties. In those cases where the Committee has considered the complaint in private, and where there is no breach or the case is dismissed, the Committee must arrange for the report to be anonymised.

Where a Member has been found in breach by the Committee, and the Committee does not recommend that the complaint be dismissed, the Member complained of may, within 10 working days of being provided with the Committee's report, appeal to the Presiding Officer.

The Committee must publish the report of its considerations and lay it before the Senedd along with the Commissioner's report to the Committee. Where the Presiding Officer informs the Committee that an appeal has been made, the Committee may not publish its report or lay it before the Senedd until consideration of the appeal has concluded.

If a complaint is referred back to the Committee under paragraph 8.6 i. the Committee must, at the conclusion of its further consideration of the complaint, prepare a revised report. Paragraph 8.1 will then apply to the revised report instead of to the original report.

Appointment of a Person to Consider an Appeal

8.2. The Presiding Officer must on each occasion appoint an independent legally qualified person to decide the appeal. The person appointed, who may not be a Member of the Senedd or a member of the Senedd's staff, must have been nominated, at the request of the Presiding Officer, by the senior Presiding Judge of the Wales circuit.

8.3. Following nomination and prior to appointment of the legally qualified independent person, the Presiding Officer shall afford the Member complained of an opportunity to make representations in writing as to any ground for the non appointment of such person, within five working days of being informed of the name of the nominee. In the event that the Presiding Officer accepts any such ground as valid and determines not to appoint the nominated person, he/she shall seek another nomination as in paragraph 8.2.

Consideration of Appeals

8.4. Appeals will only be considered on the following grounds:

(i) that the Committee's conclusions are based on significant factual inaccuracies which, had they been known, might have led to the Committee finding differently;

(ii) that there had been procedural irregularities that prejudiced the Member's right to a fair hearing.

8.5. The independent legally qualified person appointed to decide the appeal will consider only the reports of the Commissioner and the Committee and any additional written representations made by the appellant. That person will not conduct oral hearings or consider representations from any other source.

8.6. The person appointed to decide the appeal must prepare, and provide to the Member and to the Committee, a report of his or her consideration of the appeal and must either:

(i) if the grounds of appeal are established, uphold the appeal and refer the complaint back to the Committee for further consideration; or

(ii) dismiss the appeal.

8.7. The Committee must lay before the Senedd the report of the person appointed to decide the appeal, together with the report of the Commissioner and the report or (if the matter has been referred back to the Committee under paragraph 8.6 i.) revised report of the Committee itself.

In those cases where the Committee has considered the complaint in private, and where the Committee has, after it has been referred back to the Committee by the person appointed to decide the appeal, dismissed the complaint, the Committee must arrange for its revised report and that of the person appointed to decide the appeal, to be anonymised.

9. Consideration by the Senedd

Where there is no appeal or an appeal is unsuccessful

9.1. Where an appeal is unsuccessful or where no appeal is made to the Presiding Officer and where the Committee does not decide on dismissal, the Chair of the Standards Committee must table a motion calling on the Senedd to endorse the Committee's recommendations. Such motions will not be subject to amendment. Time to debate the motion must be made available as soon as may be.

10. Where breach rectified or complaint dismissed

10.1. Where, at any stage of an investigation, the facts are not disputed and the Member immediately rectifies or apologises satisfactorily for a failure of a minor nature the Commissioner may recommend to the Chair of the Standards Committee that the investigation should not be pursued. If the Chair agrees, the Commissioner shall inform the Member and the complainant that although a breach has been found no further action will be taken against the Member.

10.2. If the Chair is the subject of such a complaint, the Commissioner may make the recommendation to a member of the Committee on Standards of Conduct who has been nominated by the Committee to act in this respect. The Clerk to the Committee will ensure that a Committee member is so nominated.

10.3. In these circumstances, the Commissioner need not report to the Standards Committee except to recommend any action that may be needed to clarify or interpret rules for future reference. Where the Commissioner does choose to report in this way, the name of the Member and complainant need not be identified.

Protocol between Commissioner for Standards, the Senedd, and Director of Public Prosecutions
  • Last updated: May 2021
  • Owner: Committee responsible for Standards of Conduct
  • Contact: Clerk of the Committee responsible for Standards of Conduct
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1. Where it becomes apparent to the Clerk of the Senedd ('the Clerk') that a Member of the Senedd is or may be in breach of those requirements under Standing Order 2 relating to the registering of Members' interests, it shall be the duty of the Clerk to report such a breach or possible breach to the Commissioner for Standards forthwith. For the avoidance of doubt, the Clerk shall have no discretion to do anything other than report the matter.

2. It shall not be mandatory for the Clerk to notify the Member of the Senedd concerned of the fact that the matter is being reported. Upon receipt of the report it shall be the duty of the Commissioner for Standards to consider whether the breach or possible breach of Standing Order 2 may involve a criminal offence under Section 36(7) of the Government of Wales Act 2006.

3. In the event that the Commissioner concludes that there is evidence which could constitute a criminal offence, the Commissioner shall refer the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions for consideration of the institution of criminal proceedings unless the Commissioner is satisfied:

(i) that the breach or possible breach of those requirements under Standing Order 2 relating to the registering of Members' interests was inadvertent; and

(ii) that there have been no proceedings in Committee or Plenary session of the Senedd, since the date when the matter in question should have been registered where the matter unregistered could have had relevance; and

(iii) it would not be in the public interest to pursue criminal proceedings.

4. In such circumstances the Commissioner for Standards will treat the report as a complaint and follow the appropriate procedures.

5. For the avoidance of doubt, repeated breaches of separate, or the same, aspects of Standing Order 2, may result in the latest matter being referred for consideration of criminal proceedings.

 

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