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One area of the remit concerns me. Paragraph 110, which deals with,

includes "Members' non-parliamentary activities". That is very broad. There may be circumstances where a breach of public duty responsibilities unrelated to parliamentary activities but related to a Member's conduct, while not constituting a criminal offence may bring dishonour on the Member and, indeed, on the House. For example, a case might arise in the management of a charity, in third-party influence on a contract or-and I am not political point-scoring when I say this, because it affects all parties in this House and all Members-in accuracy of declarations of domicile. That is an important issue for us all.

Paragraph 5 relates to the Ministerial Code. It has been my view since the early 1990s that the Ministerial Code should be enforced not by the Cabinet Office and the Cabinet Secretary but, in the Commons, by the parliamentary commissioner for standards and, in the Lords, by the commissioner for the House of Lords. That responsibility should be transferred to them and taken away from the Executive.

Paragraphs 19 and 20 in the appendix to the guide to the code of conduct could cause confusion, not only in the code but in the guide, and could potentially lead to abuse. Perhaps I may quote selectively without destroying the sense intended. It states:

"Members may not ... advise outside organisations ... on process, for example how they may lobby or otherwise influence the work of Parliament".

It then states:

"The following is not parliamentary advice ... advice in general terms about how Parliament works".

Paragraph 20 states that,

There is a built-in contradiction. While the great majority of the House will, I am sure, honour this part of the code and guide to the letter, it is inevitable that there will be those who breach the provisions and what I believe to be the intentions of the guide.

I am concerned also about paragraph 90, which deals with declarations in Committee. I understand that it has been the case for quite a time-it is not new-that one declares an interest at the beginning of a set of proceedings in Committee; in other words, one does so at the beginning of Committee stage on a Bill. I have never believed that that is satisfactory. What happens in conditions where a Bill may run in Committee for seven, eight, nine or 10 sessions? Is it sufficient for

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a Member simply to declare their interest at the beginning of a Committee stage on a Bill in a way that covers all amendments that might be moved during it? The public may well be misled and a Member may stand publicly accused of not declaring a relevant interest.

I know that we are here to act on our honour. The noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames, was very careful in his original report-wisely so in my view and, I am sure, in the view of all of us-to emphasise the need for honour in the way in which we conduct ourselves. But I say it again: honour varies between Members and there will be some who do not see it being as important as others do.

The issue of domicile should be dealt with in the code, so that when a Member signs up at the beginning of a Parliament to the code they are effectively signing up to whatever rules might exist on domicile.

My objective in making my observations, most of which I communicated to my noble friend Lord Hart of Chilton during the many months that he spent toiling over the code of conduct along with other members of that committee, is simply to flag up certain issues that the committee may wish to consider when it reviews what the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames, referred to as a living and evolving document. The whole code is based on personal honour. I only hope that we are all capable of living up to the very fine intentions as set out both in the guide and in the code.

Lord Carrington: My Lords, I agree entirely with the Leader of the House and my noble friend the Leader of the Opposition that something of this kind is necessary in the current circumstances. However, I should like to put it on record that I think that this is a sad day. It is a sad day for the House, a sad day for your Lordships and, alas, an even sadder reflection on the declining standards of public life.

Lord Lloyd of Berwick: I wish only to make a brief comment on the work done by the Sub-Committee on Lords' Interests. It has done an excellent job in revising the guide to the rules of conduct prepared by the Eames committee and in proposing a change in the name. I can identify few changes between the original guide and what is now proposed. However, there is one change to which I should draw attention. In paragraph 119 of the original guide, the Sub-Committee on Lords' Interests, as it was then to be called, had the task of resolving any significant contested issues of fact. That is, as I understand it, no longer to be the case, as one can see from comparing paragraph 119 of the original guide to paragraph 130 of the revised guide. Thus the facts are to be found by the commissioner and those facts are final, subject only to appeal under paragraph 131 to the Committee for Privileges itself. Paragraph 133 of the revised guide provides that,

I wish only to ask whether my understanding of the position is correct and, if so, to say that it is an important improvement on what was there before.

The Lord Bishop of Ripon and Leeds: My Lords, I am delighted from these Benches to welcome these two reports and the clarity and transparency that they give in our dealings with one another and with the

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wider society. I am pleased, along with the noble Lord, Lord McNally, that the point is made in the facilities report that refreshment outlets can be used for raising money for charity. It is an important principle of our life together that we share our privileges with those in need and with other charitable causes. It is good to see that being affirmed in that report.

I welcome the code of conduct and its guide for their specific clarity and, still more, for their refusal to confine and define our behaviour by a set of rules. Our signing the code with each new Parliament, which I very much welcome, will remind us of our solemn duties as Members of this House. I particularly welcome the development of the concept of personal honour, partly through our discussions in this House, expressed in paragraphs 6 to 8. Our daily prayers remind us of the need to lay aside all private interests, prejudices and partial affections. That phrase, which is very appropriate to the whole life of this House, is picked up in this code and its guide.

There is a complex relationship between our personal sense of honour and the standards of the House as a whole. I was particularly interested to hear the Leader of the House taking that up in her introduction to this piece of business. It is well expressed in the balance between my own-or our own-deep convictions and those of the institution to which I am committed, a balance that applies not only to our membership of this House but to those other cultures of which we are a part, whether it is the British Medical Association, a county council, the Church of England or society as a whole. Personal integrity and communal allegiance must go together and I very much welcome the way in which the code and its guide deal with that.

On a more specific issue, I am grateful for the clarification of the role of the Lords spiritual provided in paragraph 29, which is new, although I am also somewhat uncomfortable about it. The paragraph says that the Lords spiritual, along with Ministers of the Crown and members of non-departmental public bodies, are excluded in relation to those specific roles from the prohibitions on receiving payments for exercising parliamentary influence. I take it that that is a reference to our stipends as Church of England bishops, because, on a literalistic interpretation of the code, we could otherwise be excluded from contributing on matters of education or social care, for example. I would be grateful for confirmation from the Lord Chairman that it is our stipends that are being considered in paragraph 29. Apart from those, it is right that Lords spiritual should be bound by these provisions in just the same way as are other noble Lords. I suppose that it is one advantage of our curious dress code that this interest is at least fairly obvious when we contribute in this House.

This code and its guidance ensure that we do not ever again fall into a culture where it is appropriate to argue that no rules have been broken. It will reinforce our moral integrity and remind all of us of the privilege of our service. I welcome it wholeheartedly.

Lord Neill of Bladen: My Lords, I shall make a historical reference. In case some of your Lordships are not aware of the earlier history, I came into the

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House at the end of 1997 and had just been appointed as the second chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life. Our first report was about how elections should be conducted and money provided to the parties. The second one was about your Lordships' House because at that time, in 1999, there was concern that the House of Lords rules seemed to be laxer than and not as enforced as those down the Corridor. There was a feeling that all was not well. When I was introduced into that situation, I had four separate meetings where I was invited to address all the parties and the Cross-Benchers. Without disclosing any confidences, I can say that there was not unanimous enthusiasm for the role that I was trying to urge upon Members of your Lordships' House; indeed, there were quarters where one might almost say that voices of dissent were heard.

It would have been inconceivable in 1999 that two documents like today's could have come before the House of Lords. They would have been turned down, and the attitude would have been wholly different from the responses, such as nodding, that it is getting around the House today. The House is behind these documents. It wants them to be put in place and voted upon, and I fully agree with that.

My only word of warning relates to how we have got to the position that we are in. There has been a gradual shift in opinions during the decade from 2000 to 2010. Then we had these terrible cases that seemed to start in another place but effectively came to include Members of this House. The allegations that were made, if true, were serious and deeply disturbing. One asked oneself: how could any Member of this House have indulged in the alleged conduct?

Now, not all the cases have been taken to trial, as it were. Two cases that were judged by committees of your Lordships' House have been dealt with and led to penalties. Other cases have not had judgment, and I think that one should apply the ordinary rule that a man or woman is deemed innocent until proved guilty by due process, which has not been fully carried out. Nevertheless, allowing common sense to intrude, one's suspicion has to be that some of what one read was true. That is deeply worrying.

My only message for the future is that there must be some recognition in the House that this has to be watched. We cannot wait for another torrent of media revelations to get us into the right frame of mind. How exactly that will be done, I do not know, but it is an important consideration that we should keep in mind.

Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe: My Lords, I shall follow up on the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Neill of Bladen. I have two questions. The first relates to an issue that I spoke on back in November when I expressed my unease at the inability to raise issues that would lead to changes in the code of conduct, which at that time I felt was deficient.

Paragraph 4 makes it clear that the sub-committee will review the guide and the code and change it as appropriate. However, if an individual Member of the House has cause for dissatisfaction, not with another Peer, but feels uneasy about particular rules or paragraphs in the guide or the code, how can that individual raise the matter and ensure that it is examined and acted upon if appropriate? I have described previously how,

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when one felt unhappy and went to different Leaders or Clerks, quite often the complaint disappeared somewhere within the machinery of the House. I would like some clarity on that.

If there is a requirement for a change, I hope that at that point we might pick up on my previous suggestion to my noble friend the Leader of the House. We need a reference to the Register of Lords' Interests, Members' Interests, and those of secretaries and research assistants. The House will recall that the press went into this some years ago and, as a consequence, we were required to draw up such a register. I felt that the lack of reference to this was an omission from the report of the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames. I understand that there is an indirect reference in the facilities document which comes before us later this afternoon, but quite frankly, it has disappeared. Unless we cover issues such as accountability, we leave ourselves open, the press will come back to them and the House will be in difficulties again. I hope that I can finally have an answer on what will happen in that regard. Do I need to continue pursuing the issue in one form or another and, if so, what is the mechanism for doing so?

My final point concerns the undertaking in paragraph 9, on which we have had a full discussion and which I fully support. It states:

"We hope that the House of Lords Appointments Commission will be willing to assist by making potential nominees for peerages aware of the provisions of the Code of Conduct-though it would be inappropriate for the Commission to require the potential nominee to undertake before nomination that they would sign the undertaking".

I would like to know why. I have spoken to the noble Lord, Lord Jay of Ewelme, about some of the issues arising from the operation of the Appointments Commission. We see at the other end that more examination of public appointments is taking place. I am in favour of elections, but I do not foresee them in the near future, and I find it amazing that we may have 80 or 90 new Peers entering this House without any changes in the procedures under which they will be appointed.

I would have hoped that we might have given a stronger indication to the Appointments Commission on how it might conduct its affairs. If promises are given to or required of individuals to enable them to enter the House, that should be known publicly. It should be open to the public and to the House to examine those issues in due course. We should ask the Commission very firmly to ensure that the code of conduct is signed in advance by anyone who wants to enter the House.

Lord MacGregor of Pulham Market: My Lords, as a member of the Leader's Group under the chairmanship of the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames, I would like to follow him in saying that I support unreservedly the entirety of the guide as it is now and the changes made to it. I do not propose to talk about the content, but I should like to say a word about the process, which I think has helped to bring about this improved guide.

There were only six of us in the Leader's Group. We worked at speed; we took as much evidence as we could and we received some representations, but not that many, from colleagues. All of us on the committee

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were clear and unanimous about the code, and that was accepted by the House in November. In addition, to assist the House, we agreed to a unanimous report on the text of the proposed guide. On the latter, it would be fair to say that in the time available, it was not possible to explore every nook and cranny in detail. Indeed, there was some disagreement on detail among us, but as we did not regard ourselves as the repository of all wisdom, we thought it reasonable to put forward concrete suggestions in order to enable wider consultation and comments on those details before they were finalised. An illustration of that was when we put some of the figures in brackets.

In the context of the debate on 30 November, I received a number of comments from colleagues on some of the details. I felt that it right, therefore, to put my submission to the committee of the noble Baroness, Lady Manningham-Buller, and I put forward five changes that should be made to the report that we had all agreed. Four of those were accepted. One on shareholdings was not, but I quite understand that. However, my point is, as the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon, made clear, that the text in front of us is the fruit of the labour of many Members. It has been greatly improved as a result of that and is the better for that wider consideration.

That leads me to the more general point that I want to make. There seems to be a view in some quarters that when committees are set up to comment on points in relation to either House, we should simply accept en bloc and without question the recommendations of those committees. The noble Lord, Lord Neill of Bladen, has referred to the Committee on Standards in Public Life and I was proud to serve under him for two sessions of the committee. I remember that period very clearly because I was in the other place and had to come and defend our report here in this House. We put forward reports on the House of Lords and on the funding of political parties. Not all of our recommendations were agreed and it was quite right that those with much wider experience and from different elements of experience were able to comment on those reports. In fact, two of us from the other place were on the Committee on Standards in Public Life at that time and I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Neill, will agree that there was benefit to the committee in our knowing the inside workings of that place to be able to make recommendations.

The point is that this is the view of a committee. I have seen the Committee on Standards in Public Life at work subsequently and I have considerable reservations about some aspects of the report that it recently produced on the other place. I have also had something to do with the Senior Salaries Review Body. Sometimes, I felt that wider experience would have helped it rather more in coming to some of its recommendations. Having been subjected to them as a Minister, I can say that the same is true of royal commissions or committees of inquiry into issues of accidents on the railway and so forth. We do not always accept the royal commission's recommendations or all the recommendations of the committee of inquiry, and quite rightly.

When we debated the Senior Salaries Review Body's report earlier, I said that I supported the broad framework and thrust of the report but had reservations in detail

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on some of the recommendations. It is entirely reasonable for the longer process that we have taken on the code of conduct to be applied in those other cases too. Of course, we have to bear in mind that self-interest is at stake here and we should not talk in terms of our own self-interest. We should take very seriously the recommendations of these bodies, but sometimes they do not get all the details right. The report that we have in front of us now on the guide is all the better for the wider consideration that has been given to it by others. I hope that we can accept that that should apply in other cases as well.

Lord Hart of Chilton: As a member of the Eames group, may I for the record also associate myself with the sentiments expressed by the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames, and say that the guidance that has now been revised is in my view better focused and has greater clarity than when it left us. I thank the group for the work that it has done. I also say that the noble Baroness, Lady Jay, associates herself with those remarks, so there is a whole set of Eames group members agreeing with what has been proposed this afternoon. We should also pay great attention to the fact that, in due time, inductions and mentoring will also play a part in a better explanation of the code and the rules of guidance when newcomers come into the House.

4.15 pm

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock: My Lords, I, too, agree with the general thrust and the vast majority of the recommendations of the report. I have just two reservations. I have been waiting for the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, to raise again the matter that he raised in the previous debate on the subject and which I supported. Outside this Chamber many people told me that they also agreed with it; I do not know why no account has been taken of it. It relates to the signing of the undertaking. I had assumed that, as the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, and I said in the debate, it was implicit in taking the oath that you accepted all the rules and regulations of this House, including the code of conduct. Why is there any reason to sign a separate undertaking?

I want an explanation of this in the reply. I would also like to know, because I am a suspicious character, as some here know already, where this idea for the separate undertaking came from. Who suggested it? Was it a member of the committee or was it the Clerks?

Noble Lords: Oh!

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock: I am sorry-I do not mean that in a derogatory way. The Leader of the House, for whom I have great respect, looks upset. I would just like to know because sometimes the bureaucracy suggests things that are not in the best interests of the Members. As Members, we need to recognise that.

Lord MacGregor of Pulham Market: I can answer the noble Lord. The suggestion came from the Members on the Leader's Group.



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Lord Foulkes of Cumnock: I am most grateful. I thank the noble Lord. Now we are getting into a debate. We have had a series of monologues until now and I like debates. Now that my good friend, the noble Lord, Lord MacGregor, has said that the suggestion came from Members, I would be interested to know which Members it came from, the reason behind it and an explanation as to why it is necessary in addition to the oath. As I said previously, I almost never agree with the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, on other occasions, particularly on the European Union, but on that occasion he argued a very sound case. Outside the Chamber many people came up to him and to me to say that they agreed with it, yet nothing has happened. No account has been taken of it between that debate and this report. I just do not understand why.


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