MPs who fail to declare their outside interests should be treated like criminals amid mounting concerns that Parliament will face another “public confidence sapping scandal”, three members of the standards committee have warned.
The “lay members” – ordinary citizens who sit on the Committee on Standards – have called for Westminster to follow the example of the Welsh Assembly by making the failure to declare shares or business interests a criminal offence.
The report also warned that there is “still significant room for improvement in both the awareness and observation of standards issues in the House” as it concluded that Westminster lags behind other public bodies, making another scandal likely.
Part of the problem is that MPs do not want to join the committee which scrutinises their behaviour because they fear their colleagues will think badly of them and they believe membership is not good for their career progression, the report said.
The wide-ranging reflections of the three former members also called on authorities in Parliament to clamp down on the way MPs use Twitter, Facebook and Instagram because the rules have not kept up with social media and internet use.