The Rt. Hon. Sir John Major KG CH

Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 1990-1997

1995Prime Minister (1990-1997)

Mr Major’s Doorstep Comments on the Nolan Report – 20 May 1995

Below is the summary of John Major’s doorstep comments, made on Saturday 20th May 1995 in South East Cambridgeshire, on the Nolan Report.


In the clamour of current politics it is often difficult to get a reasoned, rational debate. Nonetheless let me try to make some important points about the Nolan Committee.

1 – I set up Nolan to allay public concern after a series of incidents. I believe public confidence in Parliament and politicians is essential. I care about the reputation of Parliament. It matters. I worry that it has fallen. It will not be rescued by warm words alone.

I do not believe an internal report by Parliamentarians alone would have convinced the public. The decision to establish Nolan was warmly supported at the time on all sides of the House.

2 – Nolan should not be misunderstood. It does not ban outside interests; indeed it commends them. It simply makes clear that they must be transparent. I do not just accept the broad thrust of Nolan, I agree with it. Insofar as the recommendations to Government are concerned, after consideration of the detailed implementation, we should generally accept them.

3 – When I established Nolan last October, I made it clear that recommendations relating to backbench Members of Parliament would be for the House to consider. Nothing has changed. No one challenged that judgement at the time.

4 – The Labour and Liberal Democrat parties now seem to have changed their mind and be doing so. Their behaviour is pure partisan posturing. They are more intent on turning this report into a party political football, than ensuring it is properly considered by Parliament. I am not going to play that game.

5 – The Government has moved speedily on Nolan. It was set up promptly. I published Nolan on the day I received it. The House debated it within a week. The Government announced its broad acceptance of the recommendations speedily. We now intend to seek the views of a Select Committee. There has been no undue delay, nor will there be.

6 – The Select Committee will address the report and the range of questions that arise from it. These are important. Some aspects of Nolan do need careful consideration and accurate definition. They must be examined before specific resolutions can be put to the House. Part of the present problem has arisen because existing rules are not sufficiently clear. The new rules must be incontrovertible. That requires examination by the Select Committee.

7 – I hope the Opposition will co-operate with this Committee on an all-party basis. If they do not, the Government will consult MPs themselves and frame their own proposals.