The Code of Conduct for
Members of the House of Lords
The following Code of Conduct for Members of the
House of Lords was adopted by resolution on 30 November 2009,
and amended on 30 March 2010:
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; 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:
(a) Selflessness: Holders of public office
should take decisions solely in terms of the public interest.
They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material
benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends.
(b) Integrity: Holders of public office
should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation
to outside individuals or organisations that might influence them
in the performance of their official duties.
(c) Objectivity: In carrying out public
business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts,
or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders
of public office should make choices on merit.
(d) Accountability: Holders of public
office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the
public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate
to their office.
(e) Openness: Holders of public office
should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions
that they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and
restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly
(f) Honesty: Holders of public office
have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their
public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising
in a way that protects the public interest.
(g) Leadership: Holders of public office
should promote and support these principles by leadership and
Rules of Conduct
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.
Enforcement of the Code of Conduct
16. 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.
17. After investigation the Commissioner reports
his findings 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.
18. 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.
19. 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
20. Members shall co-operate, at all stages,
with any investigation into their conduct by or under the authority
of the House.
21. 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
22. 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.
23. 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
24. 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
25. 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.