House of Lords Commissioner for Standards

The House of Lords Commissioner for Standards is responsible for the independent and impartial investigation of alleged breaches of the House of Lords Code of Conduct. This includes investigating breaches of the rules on members’ financial support and parliamentary facilities.

The current Commissioner is Lucy Scott-Moncrieff CBE. She was appointed by the House as Commissioner for Standards for five years from 1 June 2016. She was president of the Law Society of England and Wales from 2010 to 2013.

 

Complaints

Anyone wishing to make a complaint against a member of the House of Lords concerning a matter within the Commissioner's remit should write to The House of Lords Commissioner for Standards, House of Lords, London, SW1A 0PW. Please note that complaints submitted by telephone or email will not be considered.

When making a complaint the following information should be provided:

  • in what respect the member concerned is alleged to have breached the Code of Conduct, or broken the rules governing the use of financial support or parliamentary facilities
  • as much evidence as possible in support of the complaint
  • name, postal address, telephone number and, if possible, email address.

The Commissioner conducts a preliminary assessment of all complaints. Following this preliminary assessment she will inform both the complainant and the member concerned whether or not she will investigate the complaint. If the Commissioner decides that a complaint does not merit investigation then she will provide the person who has complained with a brief explanation of the reasons for her decision.

A full explanation of the investigation process is in the Guide to the Code of Conduct.

For general enquiries the office of the Commissioner may be contacted on 020 7219 7152 and at lordsstandards@parliament.uk.

 

Newsnight Allegations, 14 February 2019

In response to this evening’s Newsnight broadcast Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, the independent House of Lords Commissioner for Standards issued the following statement:

“The complaint in question contained serious allegations against a member of the House, which I considered carefully on two occasions during my preliminary assessment. In considering the complaint, I took the severity of the allegations into account. I arranged for the complainant to be offered third-party specialist support in drafting the complaint to enable her to provide as much information as possible. Having concluded that the Code of Conduct was not engaged, I put the complainant in touch with a relevant unit of the Met Police so that she could pursue other avenues of redress.

“For a complaint to be the subject of an investigation, there must be sufficient evidence to establish that the Code has been engaged and possibly breached. For the Code to be engaged, a complaint must relate to the discharge of a peer’s parliamentary duties. The provisions of the Code – including the requirement for members to act on their personal honour – must be understood within this restriction. This is not to say that the “discharge of parliamentary duties” is only to be interpreted as activities conducted in the House but such activities must be related to parliamentary duties.

“Though credible and substantial, the complaint provided insufficient evidence that contact with the member was in relation to his parliamentary duties. I was therefore unable to launch an investigation. To conclude otherwise, as Lord Carlile has done, is to misunderstand the Code.

“The complainant said that she was only in contact with a member of the House because he was a peer, and that this therefore brings his actions within the Code. However, members’ engagement with organisations and members of the public may often arise, in part at least, as a result of their status as peers. It does not follow that their conduct in such engagement is necessarily subject to the Code.

“I would note that previous cases demonstrate that where the Code is engaged I, the House authorities, and the House itself are ready to act. I hope that my decision in this case will not deter others from submitting complaints, as each complaint is judged on its merits in relation to the Code.

“The Code is regularly reviewed and updated. The question of whether the Code requires revision on this issue is a matter for the House.”

 

Commenting Lord McFall, Chairman of the House of Lords Privileges and Conduct Committee, said:

“The Commissioner for Standards can only act within the terms of the House of Lords Code of Conduct. She cannot investigate behaviour by Members of the House that is not connected to parliamentary duties. Complainants are always advised to contact the police if allegations they make may engage the criminal law.

“The House appointed the Commissioner as an independent, arms’ length adjudicator of members’ conduct. The Commissioner’s independence is key and of course only she will have access to all the relevant information. The judgements the Commissioner makes in cases like these are complex and are informed by the text of the Code and the Guide to the Code as well as case history and precedent, not all of which is published.”

 

Message from the Commissioner

The House of Lords Code of Conduct provides guidance on the standards of conduct expected of members in the discharge of their parliamentary duties. This includes a requirement to act on their personal honour in the discharge of their parliamentary duties. In relevant circumstances, I take personal honour to include personal conduct towards others.
 
It has been drawn to my attention that this may not be obvious from the wording of the Code and its guidance. Anyone wishing to establish whether the particular behaviour of an individual could amount to a breach of the Code, may contact me for further information.
 
Contact should be in the usual way, but may be through an intermediary if the person concerned wishes to remain anonymous during the preliminary discussion. Any preliminary discussion will be strictly confidential.

 

Annual reports

The Commissioner’s annual reports cover the period from the start of June to the end of May each year. The reports detail the number of complaints received in that period and indicate how the complaints were resolved.

Further information

Contact the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards office

General Enquiries: 020 7219 7152
Press Office: 0207 219 8550
Email: lordsstandards@parliament.uk