Code of Conduct for House of Lords Members' Staff

Published 8 July 2020

The present Code of Conduct for Members of the House of Lords was agreed on 30 November 2009. Amendments to it were agreed by the House on 30 March 2010, 12 June 2014, 25 February 2016, 9 February 2017, 3 April 2017, 30 April 2019,18 July 2019, 16 March 2020 and 8 July 2020.

Contents

1. This Code of Conduct for Members’ Staff applies to staff who have a parliamentary photo-pass or email account sponsored by a member of the House of Lords for the purpose of providing parliamentary secretarial or research assistance to the member. The same Code of Conduct applies to members’ spouses or partners who provide such assistance and the staff of the opposition whips’ offices.

2. The Code does not apply to staff working in the Government Whips’ Office or the staff of the office of the Convenor of the Crossbench Peers. The former are civil servants and special advisers and therefore fall under the Civil Service Code or the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers. The latter are employees of the House of Lords Administration on temporary loan and are subject to the same rules and processes as other House staff. Both sets of staff are however still subject to the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme and investigation by external investigators.

3. Members of the House of Lords do not receive a specific allowance for employing staff; consequently, the level of staff support for members varies widely. Many staff working for members obtain income from sources outside the House.

4. Members’ staff should at all times conduct themselves in a manner which will tend to maintain and strengthen the public’s trust and confidence in the integrity of the House of Lords.

5. Members’ staff should observe the principles set out in the Parliamentary Behaviour Code[1] of respect, professionalism, understanding others’ perspectives, courtesy, and acceptance of responsibility. These principles will be taken into consideration when any allegation of bullying, harassment or sexual misconduct is under investigation.

6. Members’ staff should not take any action which would risk undermining any member’s compliance with the Code of Conduct for Members of the House of Lords.

7. Members’ staff are required to register in the Register of Members’ Staff Interests:
(a) all employment outside the House;
(b) any other financial interest in businesses or organisations involved in parliamentary lobbying;
(c) any gift (e.g. jewellery) or benefit (e.g. hospitality, services or facilities) received in the course of a calendar year, if the value of the gift or benefit exceeds £300 and if it relates to or arises from the individual’s work in Parliament (though excluding gifts or benefits from the member who sponsors the individual).

8. When registering employment, members’ staff should state the employing organisation, the nature of its business (where this is not self-evident) and the nature of the post that they hold in the organisation.

9. It is the responsibility of members’ staff to keep their entry up-to-date by notifying changes in their registrable interests within one month of each change occurring. Failure to do so is a breach of the Code of Conduct.

10. Members’ staff are expected to respond to the Registrar’s annual audit notice within four weeks. Reminders will be sent but irrespective of the sending or receipt of any such reminder, it is a breach of the Code not to respond to the annual audit notice within six weeks of its original sending.

11. The Registrar of Lords’ Interests is available to advise members’ staff and members themselves on the registration requirements. Anyone who acts on the advice of the Registrar in registering or not registering an interest satisfies fully the requirements of the Code of Conduct for Members’ Staff in that regard.

12. Members’ staff shall not make use of their access to the member who sponsors their pass, to other members (of either House), to the parliamentary email network or to the parliamentary estate to further the interests of an outside person or body from whom they have received or expect to receive payment or other incentive or reward.

13. Members’ Staff are required to treat those with whom they come into contact in the course of their parliamentary duties and activities with dignity, courtesy and respect. Behaviour that amounts to bullying, harassment or sexual misconduct is a breach of this Code.

14. Members’ staff shall not disclose draft reports of select committees or other confidential information that is provided to them or to the member who sponsors them.

15. The House of Lords Commissioner for Standards investigates alleged breaches of this Code. Any such investigation is conducted in accordance with the procedures set out in the Guide to the Code of Conduct for Members of the House of Lords, mutatis mutandis.

16. Members’ staff shall co-operate at all stages with any investigation into their conduct, or that of their sponsoring member, by or under the authority of the House.

17. The Commissioner shall publish a report into any breach of the Code resolved by remedial action except where she considers this to be disproportionate to the breach. In the event of the Commissioner not producing a report in such circumstances, the Commissioner will typically inform the relevant sponsoring member of the complaint, her finding and any action agreed. Where remedial action is not appropriate or agreed, the Commissioner will report to the Conduct Committee.

18. The Conduct Committee shall consider reports by the Commissioner into alleged breaches of this Code in accordance with the procedures set out in the Guide to the Code of Conduct for Members of the House of Lords, mutatis mutandis.

19. The Conduct Committee shall publish a report of its findings except where it considers this to be disproportionate to the breach. In the event of the Conduct Committee not producing a report in such circumstances, the Committee will typically inform the relevant sponsoring member of the complaint, its finding and any action taken.

20. Where a member’s staff is found in breach of this Code and the case is not suitable for remedial action to be agreed between the Commissioner and the individual (or between the Commissioner and the member), the sanctions that may apply include:
• suspension of the individual’s pass;
• withdrawal of the individual’s pass;
• cancellation of the individual’s email account.

21. The Conduct Committee may impose sanctions on members’ staff on its own authority and without recourse to the House.

22. Nothing in this Code affects the right of Black Rod or the Yeoman Usher to remove a pass at any time for security-related or other reasons.

23. Nothing in this Code affects the right of the Parliamentary Digital Service to cancel an email account at any time for security-related or other reasons.

Note

[1] See Appendix A.

Related links

Lords’ Conduct (Sub-Committee)

The Sub-Committee on Lords’ Conduct undertakes detailed consideration of matters relating to the Code of Conduct.