Assembly agrees new Code of Conduct

Session: 2014/2015

Date: 23 June 2015

Reference: S&P 02/14/15

The Northern Ireland Assembly today agreed a new Code of Conduct for Members and Guide to the Rules. The new Code and Guide were brought to the Assembly by the Committee on Standards and Privileges and follows a Committee Review into the Code.

The Chairman of the Committee on Standards and Privileges, Jimmy Spratt MLA, said: "The Committee is pleased that the Assembly has agreed the new Code of Conduct which is relevant, appropriate, comprehensive, well-structured, clear and enforceable. In addition, the new Code is also is proportionate and reasonable in the requirements it places upon Members."

Deputy Chairperson of the Committee, Ms Anna Lo MLA, said: "We are confident that the new Code and Guide will increase the public's confidence in the probity of the Assembly and the accountability of its Members."

The new Code establishes the principles of conduct that all Members will be expected to adhere to when carrying out their duties. The new Code clarifies and strengthens existing rules as well as adding a rule prohibiting the receipt of certain gifts. The new Code also introduces a rule which sets out Members' responsibilities in respect of the conduct of their staff.

The new Guide sets out more detailed requirements, provisions and guidance in relation to certain rules of conduct.

The Committee has also issued separate guidance for Members when dealing with lobbyists.

ENDS
Notes to Editor:
1. All Members of the Assembly are required to comply with the requirements of the Code of Conduct. The existing Code of Conduct was approved by the Northern Ireland Assembly during the previous mandate and came into effect on 12 October 2009.
2. Alleged breaches of the Code of Conduct are investigated by the Northern Ireland Assembly Commissioner for Standards ("the Commissioner"). Reports by the Commissioner are considered by the Committee on Standards and Privileges. The Committee decides whether a breach has occurred and may recommend sanctions, which are imposed by the Assembly itself in plenary session.
3. The new Code of Conduct and Guide to the Rules is available at the following link: http://nia1.me/2nl
4. The Assembly has agreed that the new Code and Guide will come into effect following a review of Standing Order 69.

Committee Membership:

Mr Jimmy Spratt (Chairman)
Ms Anna Lo (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Steven Agnew
Mr Cathal Boylan
Mr Thomas Buchanan
Mr Colum Eastwood
Mr David Hilditch
Mr Declan McAleer
Mr Fra McCann
Mr Robin Newton
Mrs Sandra Overend

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