Section 1 - Code of Conduct for Assembly Members
Code of Conduct for Assembly Members
Last updated: 9 March 2016
Owner: Committee responsible for Standards of Conduct
Contact: Clerk to the Committee responsible for Standards of Conduct
Purpose of the Code
1. The purpose of this Code of Conduct is:
to provide guidance for all Members of the National Assembly on the standards of conduct expected of them in the discharge of their Assembly and public duties;
to provide the openness and accountability necessary to reinforce public confidence in the way in which Members of the National Assembly perform their Assembly and public duties.
2. This Code applies to all Members of the National Assembly who have not taken leave of absence.
General Standards of Conduct:
3. Members of the Assembly:
must comply with the Code of Conduct for Assembly Members;
should act always on their personal honour;
must never accept any financial inducement as an incentive or reward for exercising parliamentary influence;
must not vote on any Order or motion, or ask any question in plenary or a committee, or promote any matter, in return for payment or any other material benefit (the "no paid advocacy" rule).
4. Members of the Assembly should observe the seven general principles of conduct identified by the Committee on Standards in Public Life. The seven principles are:
(a) Selflessness: Holders of public office should take decisions solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends.
Assembly Members should avoid conflict between personal and public interests and resolve any conflict between the two at once and in favour of the public interest.
(b) Integrity: Holders of public office should 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.
Assembly Members should at all times conduct themselves in a manner which will tend to maintain and strengthen the public's trust and confidence in the integrity of the Assembly and refrain from any action which would bring the Assembly, or its Members generally, into disrepute. Members should not ask Assembly Commission or Welsh Government staff to act in any way which would compromise the political impartiality of the Civil Service and/or Assembly Commission staff or conflict with the Civil Service Code and/or the Assembly Commission Staff Code of Conduct.
(c) Objectivity: In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit.
(d) Accountability: Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.
No improper use shall be made of any payment or allowance made to Assembly Members for public purposes and the administrative rules which apply to such payments and allowances must be strictly observed.
(e) Openness: Holders of public office should 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 when the wider public interest clearly demands.
Assembly Members must not prevent any person from gaining access to information which that person is entitled to by law, but must not disclose confidential information, including confidential information from Assembly Committees, without consent unless required to do so by law. Any such confidential material received by Members in the course of their Assembly duties should only be used in connection with those duties and must never be used for the purpose of financial gain. In any activities in relation to, or on behalf of, an 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, Members must always bear in mind the need to be open and frank with other Assembly Members, and with officials.
(f) Honesty: Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.
(g) Leadership: Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.
Specific Standards of Conduct:
Registration of Interests
5. Members of the Assembly must register in the Register of Members' Interests all relevant interests defined in the Annex to Standing Order 2, in order to make clear what are the interests that might reasonably be thought to influence their actions.
6. The categories of registrable interests (as set out in the Annex to Standing Order 2) are as follows:
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 those which are individually unremunerated but where remuneration is paid through another company in the same group.
Employment, office, trade, profession or vocation (apart from membership of the Assembly) for which the Member or, to the Member's knowledge, the Member's partner, is remunerated or in which the Member has any pecuniary interest, including the receipt of any public funds.
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, which arise out of, or are related in any matter to his or her membership of the Assembly.
Gifts, hospitality, material benefits or advantage above a value specified in any resolution of the Assembly 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 Assembly.
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 Member's knowledge, has tendered for, is tendering for, or has, a contract with the Assembly Commission or Welsh Government .
Financial sponsorship (i) as a candidate for election to the Assembly, where to the knowledge of the Member the sponsorship in any case exceeds 25 per cent of the candidate's election expenses, or (ii) as a Member of the Assembly by any person or organisation, stating whether any such sponsorship includes any payment to the Member or any material benefit or advantage.
Subject to any resolution of the Assembly, 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 arising out of membership of the Assembly where the cost of any such visit has not been wholly borne by the Member or by public funds.
Any land and property, 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 Assembly or from which a substantial income is derived other than any home used for the personal residential purposes of the Member or the Member's partner or any dependent child of the Member.
The names of companies or other bodies in which the Member has, either alone or with or on behalf of the Member's partner or any dependent child, a beneficial interest or in which, to the Member's knowledge, the Member's partner or a dependent child has a beneficial interest in shareholdings of a nominal value greater than one per cent of the issued share capital, or less than one per cent but more than an amount specified in any resolution of the Assembly.
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 Assembly Commission or the Welsh Government, where the Member knows, or ought to have known, of the Assembly Commission or Welsh Government funding.
Declaration of Registrable Interests
7. Members of the Assembly must declare, before taking part in any Assembly proceedings, any interest which is a relevant interest, under Standing Order 2, in the context of the debate or the matter under discussion. A declaration must relate to a decision to be made at the meeting in question. It must concern a matter where the Member (or their partner or dependent children) might gain a financial advantage from such a decision, where that advantage would be greater than that which might accrue to the electorate generally. This is necessary in order that their audience may form a balanced judgement of their arguments.
Prohibition of Voting in Relation to Registrable Interests
8. A Member is prohibited from voting in any proceedings of the Assembly if, in relation to any interest which is required to be registered under Standing Order 2, a particular decision of the Assembly or a Committee might result in a direct financial advantage to the Member greater than that which might accrue to the electorate generally.
Declaration of Relevant Interests
9. At the appropriate time in any Assembly proceedings, a Member must declare any interest, financial or otherwise, that the Member, or to their knowledge, a family member, has or is expecting to have which is relevant to those proceedings, and might reasonably be thought by others to influence the Member's contribution.
Use of Assembly Resources
10. Members are required to comply with the 'Rules and Guidance on the Use of Assembly Resources' and any guidance on the use of Assembly resources specifically relating to an election campaign.
Public Access to Information
11. The principles under which the National Assembly for Wales provides information are detailed in the 'Code of Practice on Public Access to Information' which has been approved by the Assembly Commission. Assembly Members seeking information are required to comply with the Code by making a request in writing to the Information Governance Manager, National Assembly for Wales.
Relationships between Assembly Members and Assembly Staff
12. All staff of the National Assembly for Wales (Assembly Commission staff) are bound by Staff Code of Conduct, whilst Welsh Government Staff continue to be bound by the Civil Service Code. Members should at all times, in their dealings with the staff of these bodies, respect the principles of both Codes. Relationships between Members and staff should be professional and based on mutual respect, and Members should have regard to the duty of staff to remain politically impartial when carrying out their duties.
Members' Salaries and Allowances
13. Members are required to comply with 'The National Assembly for Wales (Assembly Members and Officers) (Salaries, Allowances etc.) Determination'.
14. The Determination sets out the salaries and allowances which Members are entitled to as a result of the discharging of their Assembly duties.
Standards Investigations: Duties in respect of the Commissioner for Standards and the Committee on Standards of Conduct
15. Members shall cooperate, at all stages, with any investigation into their conduct by the Commissioner for Standards; or by the Committee on Standards of Conduct in accordance with Standing Order 22.2(i).
16. No Member shall lobby a member of the Committee on Standards of Conduct in a manner calculated or intended to influence their consideration of a complaint of a breach of any matter encompassed under Standing Orders 22.2(i).
17. No Member shall misrepresent any recommendation made by the Committee on Standards of Conduct in relation to any complaint it has considered under the 'National Assembly for Wales' Procedure for Dealing with Complaints against Assembly Members.'
Enforcement of the Code of Conduct
18. Any allegations of non-compliance with this Code will follow the process set out in the 'National Assembly for Wales' Procedure for Dealing with Complaints against Assembly Members', as approved by the National Assembly Committee on Standards of Conduct.
19. Information on the role of the Commissioner for Standards, including contact details can be found on the Assembly's web-site or from the Standards Commissioner's office or website.