House of Lords reform: what next ? - Political and Constitutional Reform Contents

8  Expelling peers convicted of a serious offence

57. In both the oral and written evidence we received, there was unanimous support for the idea that peers convicted of a serious offence should be expelled.[122] Unlock Democracy's submission, which was typical of many of those which we received, stated:

    The fact that at present members of the House of Lords can be convicted of serious offences, from fire starting to false accounting and perjury, serve custodial offences and remain members of the legislature, damages the reputation of the House of Lords. It reinforces the notion that politicians are somehow a class apart who are not treated in the same way as the rest of the country.[123]

58. Proposals on expulsion were included in the previous Government's Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill, the Coalition's 2012 House of Lords Reform Bill, and also in a number of Private Members' Bills sponsored by Lord Steel. More recently, Baroness Hayman's Bill states that a peer convicted of a criminal offence by a court in the United Kingdom or elsewhere, and sentenced, imprisoned or detained indefinitely for more than one year would cease to be a member of the Lords. If introduced, this would mirror the disqualification provisions for the House of Commons for serious criminal offences, a point that was supported by numerous witnesses who argued there should be no difference between the two Houses.[124]

59. Giving evidence to us on this issue, Baroness Hayman suggested that she was minded to add a provision which would allow for the expulsion of any peer who brought the House into disrepute. This idea found also favour with Lords Goodlad, Hennessy and Norton when they gave evidence to us.[125]

60. We conclude that there is a consensus in support of the introduction of provisions to enable the expulsion of peers convicted of a serious offence. We strongly support the proposal contained within Baroness Hayman's House of Lords Reform Bill which addresses this matter.

122   Ev w2; Ev w7; Ev w9; Ev w10; Ev w15 Back

123   Ev w33  Back

124   Q 96; Ev w5; Ev w47; Ev w7; Ev w10  Back

125   Q 96 Back

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Prepared 17 October 2013