What are lay members?
Lay members are members of the Committee on Standards who are not MPs but members of the public, chosen to provide an independent element in the House of Commons’ standards system.
Lay members were first added to the Committee in 2012, initially with three lay members and 11 elected members; this was changed to equal numbers of each in 2016.
The lay members play a full role in the Committee's work, involved in both disciplinary cases and inquiries related to broader standards matters.
The House decided on 7 January 2019 to approve the Committee’s Fifth Report (HC 1726, 2017-19). As a result, lay members were granted full voting rights.
In addition, any lay member has the right to have their opinion added to a report of the Committee. Furthermore, the quorum of a meeting is three elected members and three lay members.
‘Independent and external perspective’
The inclusion of lay members is designed to bring an independent and external perspective to the Committee’s deliberations.
Lay members are encouraged to bring their different experiences and capabilities to the work of the Committee on Standards.
They are recruited through open and fair competition, they come from diverse backgrounds, with good gender balance (four women, three men) and they possess significant external regulatory experience (having been involved, for instance, in regulating the conduct of the medical profession) as well as other relevant knowledge (e.g. working to prevent sexual harm).
Interview with lay members
To explain more about their role, the lay members have shared their thoughts on some key questions posed by students:
Image: Parliamentary copyright