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Title: The conflict of interest issue and the British House of Commons : a practical problem and a conceptual conundrum
Author: Williams, Sandra Ann
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 1982
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In 1974 the House of Commons agreed by Resolution to take the unprecedented step of introducing a Register of Members' Interests. It also converted the convention that a Member should declare any personal pecuniary interest relevant to any debate or proceeding into a rule of the House. These measures were designed to avoid actual or apparent conflict between a Member's private interests and his public duties as an MP. The experience of the House in dealing with conflict of interest, and the problems of defining, identifying and regulating this phenomenon, have, hitherto, been discussed only peripherally in academic literature on Parliament. This study fills a lacuna in parliamentary research by systematically examining these issues and exploring some of the conceptual ambiguities involved. It first documents and discusses the way the House traditionally approached the problem prior to the 1974 Resolutions, and then considers whether recent developments in the regulation of Members' interests indicate a genuine departure from that approach. In so doing it provides a case-study of an important episode in recent parliamentary history. It establishes that the House's approach towards conflict of interest derives as much from historical residues of 'elite political culture' as it does from contemporary pressures. It finds that the House has, in the absence of strong outside stimuli, been reluctant to take the initiative to regulate Members' interests, having preferred to rely on the honour of individual Members, and shows that recent changes are less fundamental than the apparent innovation of introducing the Register might suggest. It considers alternative methods of regulating Members' interests, and asks whether, in dealing with conflict of interest, the House should surrender its sole right, enshrined in parliamentary privilege, to regulate and to adjudicate upon the conduct of its own Members in their parliamentary capacity.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Political Science