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Dunne outlines plan for MPs code of conduct

Media statement
Embargoed to 6pm
Wednesday, 2 August 2006

Dunne outlines plan for MPs code of conduct

United Future leader Peter Dunne says the unsatisfactory outcome of the Taito Phillip Field case makes it vital that a code of standards be developed for MPs.

Speaking to the Tawa Lions Club this evening, Mr Dunne said that the Field case had demonstrated inadequacies in Parliament's Standing Orders with regard to MPs' conduct outside the Parliamentary precincts and in their wider business and constituency roles.

He says much of the frustration now evident in Parliament about the case arises from the fact that no-one is really too sure how to deal with it.

"When the narrowness of the government's majority is added to that, it is inevitable that the responses we are now seeing are scatter-gun and not well thought through.

"It may well be that nothing further happens in the Field case, but that it becomes the catalyst of a wider change, although that is unlikely to quell the calls of those baying for Mr Field's blood.

"Moving votes of no-confidence in the Speaker because of gaps in the rules is futile, and a classic case of shooting the messenger," he says.

Mr Dunne says Parliament's Standing Orders committee should be asked to develop a code of standards and professional practice to guide dealings with constituents and outside interests generally.

Such a code would need to be broader than just a code about standards of conduct and behaviour in the Parliamentary debating chamber.

"It should make it clear, for example, that MPs advocating on behalf of constituents should neither solicit or receive payment for any services rendered, nor enter into inappropriate business relationships with constituents.

"In many senses, this code would be an extension of the existing requirement on MPs to register their financial and other interests," he says.

Mr Dunne is proposing that the code be overseen by a new committee made up of the five or six longest serving Members of the House, to which any alleged breaches of the code could be referred for adjudication.

"A committee made up of the longest serving and most senior MPs in Parliament, rather than one determined on party lines, is more likely to give confidence as to its impartiality in dealing with matters referred to it," Mr Dunne says.


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