Lords Privileges and Conduct Committee recommends suspension of two members for breaches of the Code of Conduct

16 December 2013


The House of Lords Committee for Privileges and Conduct has today published reports on the conduct of Lord Cunningham of Felling, Lord Laird, Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate and Lord O’Neill of Clackmannan.

The reports follow investigations by the independent House of Lords Commissioner for Standards into allegations made in The Sunday Times and on BBC’s Panorama. The Commissioner found that Lord Laird and Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate breached the Code of Conduct. The Committee for Privileges and Conduct upheld those findings. The Commissioner cleared Lord Cunningham of Felling and Lord O’Neill of Clackmannan of breaching the Code.

The Privileges and Conduct Committee has recommended that Lord Laird be suspended from the House of Lords for four months and Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate be suspended for six months.

The House of Lords will have to agree the suspensions before they come into force.

Further details of the cases:

Lord Laird

Lord Laird is found to have breached the Code of Conduct by failing to “act always on his personal honour” in three respects: by demonstrating a clear willingness to negotiate an agreement to set up an all-party group in return for payment or reward in two separate incidents; and by demonstrating a clear willingness to negotiate an agreement which would involve providing parliamentary services in return for payment or reward.

The Privileges and Conduct Committee recommend he is suspended from the House for four months.

Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate

Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate is found to have breached the Code of Conduct in four respects.

He breached the rules regarding the use of the facilities of the House in respect of a lunch held in the House of Lords on 23 April 2013, which is found to have been held with the purpose of increasing business to Ivy Link, a commercial entity in which Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate has a financial interest. In relation to that lunch he also breached the requirement for Members to act always on their personal honour.

Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate further breached the requirement to act on his personal honour by demonstrating a clear willingness to negotiate an agreement which would involve providing parliamentary services in return for payment or other reward. The fourth breach was by agreeing to set up an all-party group on behalf of a paying client.

The Privileges and Conduct Committee recommend he is suspended from the House for six months.

Lord Cunningham of Felling

The Commissioner investigated three allegations that Lord Cunningham breached the Code: in respect of hosting functions in the House of Lords; in respect of establishing an all-party group; and in respect of the provision of parliamentary services. The Commissioner finds that Lord Cunningham did not breach the Code of Conduct and did not demonstrate a clear willingness to do so.

Lord O’Neill of Clackmannan

The Commissioner investigated three allegations that Lord O’Neill breached the Code: in respect of hosting functions in the House of Lords; in respect of establishing an all-party group; and in respect of the provision of parliamentary services. The Commissioner finds that Lord O’Neill did not breach the Code of Conduct and did not demonstrate a clear willingness to do so. Lord O’Neill’s case arose from the same undercover Sunday Times operation as the cases of Lords Laird, Mackenzie and Cunningham. However, no story was in fact published about Lord O’Neill.

Lord Oxburgh

The Committee for Privileges and Conduct also today publishes a report on Lord Oxburgh. This report is not related to the allegations in The Sunday Times and on Panorama. Lord Oxburgh is found to have breached the Code of Conduct by not registering in the Register of Lords’ Interests his position on the advisory board of the Real Asset Energy Fund. Lord Oxburgh has apologised in writing for the mistake and stood down from the advisory board. The Privileges and Conduct Committee does not recommend any further sanction.

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