5.01 Members' conduct~ in the course of their
parliamentary duties is governed by a Code of Conduct, agreed
on 30 November 2009,
and an accompanying Guide to the Code of Conduct, agreed on 16
The full text of the Code, which came into effect at the start
of the 2010 Parliament, is as follows:
Code of Conduct for Members of
the House of Lords~~
1. The House of Lords is the second Chamber of
the United Kingdom Parliament. As a constituent part of Parliament,
the House of Lords makes laws, holds government to account, and
debates issues of public interest.
2. Membership of the House is not an office,
and does not constitute employment; most Members' primary employment
is or has been outside Parliament. In discharging their parliamentary
duties Members of the House of Lords draw substantially on experience
and expertise gained outside Parliament.
3. The purpose of this Code of Conduct is
(a) to provide guidance for Members of the House
of Lords on the standards of conduct expected of them in the discharge
of their parliamentary duties; save for paragraphs 16 and 17,
the Code does not extend to Members' performance of duties unrelated
to parliamentary proceedings, or to their private lives;
(b) to provide the openness and accountability
necessary to reinforce public confidence in the way in which Members
of the House of Lords perform their parliamentary duties.
4. This Code applies to all Members of the House
of Lords who are not either
(a) on leave of absence;
(b) suspended from the service of the House;
(c) statutorily disqualified from active membership.
5. Members are to sign an undertaking to abide
by the Code as part of the ceremony of taking the oath upon introduction
and at the start of each Parliament.
6. By virtue of their oath, or affirmation, of
allegiance, Members of the House have a duty to be faithful and
bear true allegiance to Her Majesty The Queen, Her heirs and successors,
according to law.
7. In the conduct of their parliamentary duties,
Members of the House shall base their actions on consideration
of the public interest, and shall resolve any conflict between
their personal interest and the public interest at once, and in
favour of the public interest.
8. Members of the House:
(a) must comply with the Code of Conduct;
(b) should act always on their personal honour;
(c) must never accept or agree to accept any
financial inducement as an incentive or reward for exercising
(d) must not seek to profit from membership of
the House by accepting or agreeing to accept payment or other
incentive or reward in return for providing parliamentary advice
9. Members of the House should observe the seven
general principles of conduct identified by the Committee on Standards
in Public Life. These principles will be taken into consideration
when any allegation of breaches of the provisions in other sections
of the Code is under investigation and should act as a guide to
Members in considering the requirement to act always on their
(a) Selflessness: Holders of public office
should act solely in terms of the public interest.
(b) Integrity: Holders of public office
must avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or
organisations that might try inappropriately to influence them
in their work. They should not act or take decisions in order
to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their
family, or their friends. They must declare and resolve any interests
(c) Objectivity: Holders of public office
must act and take decisions impartially, fairly and on merit,
using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias.
(d) Accountability: Holders of public
office are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions
and must submit themselves to the scrutiny necessary to ensure
(e) Openness: Holders of public office
should act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner.
Information should not be withheld from the public unless there
are clear and lawful reasons for so doing.
(f) Honesty: Holders of public office
should be truthful.
(g) Leadership: Holders of public office
should exhibit these principles in their own behaviour. They should
actively promote and robustly support the principles and be willing
to challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs.
10. In order to assist in openness and accountability
(a) register in the Register of Lords' Interests
all relevant interests, in order to make clear what are the interests
that might reasonably be thought to influence their parliamentary
(b) declare when speaking in the House, or communicating
with ministers or public servants, any interest which is a relevant
interest in the context of the debate or the matter under discussion;
(c) act in accordance with any rules agreed by
the House in respect of financial support for Members or the facilities
of the House.
11. The test of relevant interest is whether
the interest might be thought by a reasonable member of the public
to influence the way in which a Member of the House of Lords discharges
his or her parliamentary duties: in the case of registration,
the Member's parliamentary duties in general; in the case of declaration,
his or her duties in respect of the particular matter under discussion.
12. The test of relevant interest is therefore
not whether a Member's actions in Parliament will be influenced
by the interest, but whether a reasonable member of the public
might think that this might be the case. Relevant interests include
both financial and non-financial interests.
13. Members are responsible for ensuring that
their registered interests are accurate and up-to-date. They should
register any change in their relevant interests within one month
of the change.
14. A Member must not act as a paid advocate
in any proceeding of the House; that is to say, he or she must
not seek by parliamentary means to confer exclusive benefit on
an outside body or person from which he or she receives payment
15. Members are not otherwise debarred from participating
in proceedings in regard to which they possess relevant interests,
financial or non-financial; but such interests should be declared
fully. Members of the House should be especially cautious in deciding
whether to speak or vote in relation to interests that are direct,
pecuniary and shared by few others.
16. A Member sentenced to imprisonment in the
United Kingdom for a term of up to and including one year, or
given a suspended sentence of imprisonment in the United Kingdom
of any length, shall be deemed to have breached the Code; such
a case shall be referred to the Sub-Committee on Lords' Conduct
for it to recommend a sanction.
17. A Member sentenced to imprisonment outside
the United Kingdom, whether the sentence is suspended or not,
shall be presumed to have breached the Code; such a case shall
be referred to the Sub-Committee on Lords' Conduct for it to consider
whether the presumption should apply in that case and, if it should,
for the Sub-Committee to recommend a sanction.
Enforcement of the Code of Conduct
18. A House of Lords Commissioner for Standards
is appointed to investigate alleged breaches of this Code, or
of the rules governing Members' financial support or use of parliamentary
facilities. Any such investigation is conducted in accordance
with procedures set out in the Guide to the Code of Conduct.
19. After investigation the Commissioner makes
a report of his findings. If the Member is found not to have breached
the Code, or if the Member and the Commissioner have agreed remedial
action, the report goes to the Committee for Privileges and Conduct.
If the Member is found to have breached the Code (and remedial
action is inappropriate or has not been agreed), the Commissioner's
report goes to the Sub-Committee on Lords' Conduct; the Sub-Committee
reviews the Commissioner's findings and, where appropriate, recommends
a disciplinary sanction to the Committee for Privileges and Conduct.
The Member concerned has a right of appeal to the Committee for
Privileges and Conduct against both the Commissioner's findings
and any recommended sanction.
20. The Committee for Privileges and Conduct,
having heard any appeal, reports its conclusions and recommendations
to the House. The final decision rests with the House.
21. In investigating and adjudicating allegations
of non-compliance with this Code, the Commissioner, the Sub-Committee
on Lords' Conduct and the Committee for Privileges and Conduct
shall act in accordance with the principles of natural justice
22. Members shall co-operate, at all stages,
with any investigation into their conduct by or under the authority
of the House.
23. No Member shall lobby a member of the Committee
for Privileges and Conduct or the Sub-Committee on Lords' Conduct
in a manner calculated or intended to influence their consideration
of a complaint of a breach of this Code.
24. The operation of the Register is overseen
by the Sub-Committee on Lords' Conduct, assisted by the Registrar
of Lords' Interests. The Registrar is available to advise Members
of the House, and may consult the Sub-Committee when necessary.
25. A Member who acts on the advice of the Registrar
in determining what is a relevant interest satisfies fully the
requirements of the Code of Conduct in that regard. However, the
final responsibility for deciding whether or not to participate
in proceedings to which that interest is relevant rests with the
26. The Sub-Committee on Lords' Conduct reviews
the Code of Conduct once each Parliament. Its findings, along
with any recommended changes to the Code, are reported to the
27. The Sub-Committee also keeps the Guide to
the Code of Conduct under regular review; recommended changes
are reported to the House and will not take effect until agreed
by the House.
5.02 In accordance with the Code of Conduct,
members are to sign an undertaking to abide by the Code as part
of the ceremony of taking the oath upon introduction and at the
start of each Parliament.
The Guide to the Code of Conduct
5.03 The operation of the Code of Conduct is
kept under review by the Sub-Committee on Lords' Conduct~, a sub-committee
of the Committee for Privileges and Conduct~. As well as reviewing
the Code itself once each Parliament, the Sub-Committee keeps
the Guide to the Code of Conduct~ under regular review.
This Guide has been agreed by resolution of the House, and is
binding upon members. Any change to the Guide must be reported
to the House and no change can take effect until agreed by the
House. Copies of the up-to-date text of the Guide are available
online, from the Printed Paper Office or from the Registrar of
Lords' Interests. The Registrar is available to advise members
on the rules governing members' conduct.
5.04 The procedure for investigating complaints
is set out in full in the Guide to the Code of Conduct. In summary,
responsibility for investigating alleged breaches of the Code
rests with the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards~, who
is an independent officer appointed by the House as a whole. Following
his investigation, the Commissioner makes a report of his findings
of fact and offers his own conclusion on whether the Code has
been breached. If the Commissioner finds a member to have breached
the Code (and remedial action is inappropriate or has not been
agreed) his report goes to the Sub-Committee on Lords' Conduct.
The Sub-Committee reviews the Commissioner's findings, may comment
on them and, where appropriate, recommends a sanction. The reports
of the Commissioner and Sub-Committee are presented to the Committee
for Privileges and Conduct~, and the member concerned has a right
of appeal against both the Commissioner's findings and any recommended
sanction. Having heard any appeal, the Committee for Privileges
and Conduct reports to the House and the final decision rests
with the House.
5.05 The Houses possesses an inherent power to
discipline its members; the means by which it chooses to exercise
this power falls within the regulation by the House of its own
procedures. The duty imposed upon members, by virtue of writs
of summons, to attend Parliament, is subject to various implied
conditions, which are reflected in the many rules governing the
conduct of members which have been adopted over time by the House.
The House has power to pass Standing Orders under which it may
by resolution expel a member or suspend a member for the period
specified in the resolution.
During a period
of suspension the member is not entitled to receive a writ of
summons. A resolution suspending or expelling a member must state
that, in the opinion of the House, the conduct giving rise to
the resolution occurred after the coming into force of the House
of Lords (Expulsion and Suspension) Act 2015 or occurred before
then and was not public knowledge before that time.
5.06 In the event of a member being suspended,
the member concerned is expected to leave the Chamber without
Suspended members have no access to the precincts of the House
of Lords estate (including as guests) or to services provided
to members. Suspended members' security passes are cancelled,
as are those of their staff, spouses and partners. Suspended members
are ineligible to claim financial support from the House during
the period for which they are suspended, are not entitled to receive
parliamentary papers from the Printed Paper Office, and cannot
use any parliamentary ICT applications.
5.07 The House has the power to deny a member
access for a specified period of time to the system of financial
support for members and/or to the facilities of the House. These
sanctions can be applied for any period of time and may be applied
in addition to a sanction of suspension.
190 The Code was amended on 30 March 2010 and 12 June
The Guide was amended on 9 November 2011, 6 March 2014, 13 May
2014 and 24 March 2015. Back
LJ (2009-10) 37-40; amended 16 March 2010. Back
Privileges 2nd Rpt 2009-10. Back
House of Lords (Expulsion and Suspension) Act 2015, s. 1. Back
Procedure Committee minutes 18 May 2009. Back
House Committee minutes 19 May 2009. Back
House Committee 1st Rpt 2013-14. Back