5.01 Members' conduct in the course of their
parliamentary duties is governed by a Code of Conduct, and an
accompanying Guide to the Code of Conduct.
The full text of the Code is as follows:
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
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
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; or
(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
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 parliamentary influence;
(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 or services.
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 personal honour:
(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 and relationships.
(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 this.
(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
(f) Honesty: Holders of public office should be
(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.
Rules of conduct
10. In order to assist in openness and accountability Members
(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 actions;
(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 their parliamentary
duties: in the case of registration, the Member's parliamentary duties in
general; in the case of declaration, their 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
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 or reward.
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. In participating in such proceedings they should ensure that there is
no conflict between their declared interests and the public interest.
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 and fairness.
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.
Advice and review
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 Member concerned.
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 House.
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.
Guide to the Code of Conduct
5.02 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.
5.03 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 her investigation, the Commissioner makes a report
of her findings of fact and offers her 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) her 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.
5.04 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
5.05 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. A motion to suspend or
expel a member must follow a recommendation from the Committee for Privileges
and Conduct that the member be expelled or suspended (as the case may be)
because the member has breached the Code of Conduct. A motion to suspend or
expel a member must state that, in the opinion of the House, the conduct giving
rise to the resolution occurred on or after 26 June 2015 (the date the House of
Lords (Expulsion and Suspension) Act 2015 came into force) or occurred before
26 June 2015 and was not public knowledge before that time. A motion to
suspend a member must specify the period for which the suspension is to last
(which may be until the occurrence of a specified event). Notice must be given
of a motion to expel or suspend a member. Expulsion or suspension takes effect
as soon as the House has agreed the motion.
5.06 In the event of a member being suspended, the
member concerned is expected to leave the Chamber without delay. 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.