Lords Conduct Committee recommends new rules on Valuing Everyone training and process for complaints against former MPs
27 October 2020
The House of Lords Conduct Committee has today published a report recommending changes to the Code of Conduct to require Members to take part in Valuing Everyone training, and to provide for Members who are former MPs to be investigated in relation to allegations of bullying, harassment or sexual misconduct dating from their time in the House of Commons.
Valuing Everyone training
Valuing Everyone is the Parliament-wide training programme designed to help ensure that everyone working at Parliament is able to recognise bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct, and feels confident taking action to tackle and prevent it. The Conduct Committee previously set a target for at least 50% of Members to have undertaken the training by the Summer recess of 2020. This was nearly achieved with 47.8% of Members having attended a Valuing Everyone session.
To improve take up further the Committee are now recommending that Members who fail to attend a Valuing Everyone training session by 21 April 2021 will be in breach of the Code of Conduct.
New Members or Members returning from leave of absence will be required to undertake the training within three months of joining the House.
Members who fail to take part in the training will be investigated by the independent House of Lords Commissioner for Standards and unless there are clear mitigating factors – such as ill health - for failure to complete the training the Commissioner may restrict their access to facilities of the House until they have completed it.
Investigations of members relating to their time as an MP
The Conduct Committee has reached agreement with the Commons Standards Committee to close a loophole that meant former MPs in the House of Lords could not be investigated under the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS) for behaviour that is alleged to have taken place while they were MPs.
The recommendation from the Conduct Committee is that complaints against former MPs in relation to bullying, harassment or sexual misconduct will be investigated under House of Commons procedures. The investigation would be conducted by independent investigators and the House of Commons Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, and the Member would have a right of appeal to the Commons Independent Expert Panel.
If the allegations are upheld, the House of Lords Independent Commissioner for Standards would recommend a sanction and the Conduct Committee would hear any appeal against that sanction. This would allow the House of Lords to impose a sanction – which could include suspension or expulsion from the House – on a Member who was a former MP for behaviour which had taken place in the House of Commons.
For the less common incidence of MPs who had previously been Members of the House of Lords, any investigation related to behaviour while a Member of the Lords would be undertaken according to Lords procedures by the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards, and if the allegations were upheld any sanction would be imposed by the House of Commons authorities.
The changes to the Code of Conduct proposed by the Committee have to be approved by the House before coming into force. It is expected the House will consider the proposals on Tuesday 3 November.