The House of Lords Privileges and Conduct Committee, the body charged with overseeing the operation of the House of Lords Code of Conduct, has published a report recommending the Code be strengthened in a number of areas.
The recommended changes include:
- The introduction of guidance on lobbying, stating that members’ 'dealings with lobbyists should always be governed by the principles of integrity and openness' and that 'members should take particular care not to give the impression of giving greater weight to representations because they come from paid lobbyists; representations should be given such weight as they deserve based on their intrinsic merit ... members should decline all but the most insignificant or incidental hospitality, benefit or gift offered by a lobbyist.'
- A clarification of the ban on members lobbying members of either House, ministers or government officials in return for payment or other reward.
- A provision that a member showing a clear willingness to breach the Code of Conduct demonstrates a failure to act on his or her personal honour, and so breaches the Code.
- A requirement that any member’s staff holding a Parliamentary pass must register all third-party employment regardless of whether or not that employer is engaged in Parliamentary lobbying.
- A reduction in the value of gifts or hospitality that have to be registered in the register of interests from £500 to £140 to bring it into line with the threshold in the Ministerial Code.
- The descriptions of the seven principles of public life that are incorporated into the Code of Conduct will be updated to reflect the revised descriptions agreed by the Committee on Standards in Public Life.
The report was considered and agreed by the House on Thursday 6 March.
It is expected that the Privileges and Conduct Committee will publish a further report in the near future which will propose changes to the Code of Conduct in areas such as a code of conduct for members’ staff, further guidance on personal honour and imprisonment of members.