On Tuesday 18 May, Members of the House of Lords began the process of swearing-in for the new Parliament. For the first time, Members of the Lords are required to sign up to a new Lords Code of Conduct, as part of wider efforts by the House to meet public expectations of clarity, transparency and integrity.
The Code of Conduct provides rules on Members’ expenses, interests and employment, including a complete ban on Members acting as parliamentary consultants, and thresholds for the declaration of Members’ income from activities outside the House, major shareholdings, and gifts, overseas travel and financial support received.
The Lord Speaker, Baroness Hayman, explains the purpose of the new code:
"This public declaration that Members will now make to follow the new stricter Code of Conduct is an important step in the wider process of reforming both the Code and the system of financial support available to Members of the House of Lords. This is a process the House of Lords and the House Committee have been pursuing over the last year to ensure the public can be confident in the governance systems the House has in place.
"Taken together with the agreement to appoint an independent Commissioner for Standards for the House of Lords to investigate complaints against Members and the new stricter requirements on the definition of Members’ main residence this package of reforms provides both clarity and transparency. It represents an important improvement to the Lords’ conduct and expenses regimes."
A new independent House of Lords Commissioner for Standards will investigate any alleged abuses of the code or the system of financial support for Members. The new code states that Members will cooperate fully with any investigation by the commissioner.
The House of Lords agreed the Code of Conduct on 30 November 2009.
The Code of Conduct introduces a new aspect to the House of Lords swearing in process, which also requires Members to present their Writ of Summons, make an oath or declaration, and sign the Test Roll.
Swearing-in of all Lords Members continues on Wednesday 19 May, ahead of the State Opening of Parliament on Tuesday 25 May.
Image: Parliamentary copyright