The conduct of Lord Hanningfield|
1. The Committee for Privileges and Conduct has
considered a report by the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards
on the conduct of Lord Hanningfield (at Annex 2). The Committee
has also considered a report by the Sub-Committee on Lords' Conduct
(at Annex 1).
2. The procedure in cases such as this is set
out in the Guide to the Code of Conduct. Under this procedure,
the Commissioner investigates allegations against Members. He
reports his findings to the Sub-Committee, which, if the Commissioner
has found the Member to have breached the Code, recommends any
action that the Member concerned should take and any sanction
that the House should apply. The Sub-Committee does not reopen
the Commissioner's findings, which are reported without amendment
to the Committee for Privileges and Conduct. The Member may then
appeal to that Committee against the Commissioner's findings or
the Sub-Committee's recommended sanction, or both.
Summary of the case
3. This case arose after the Daily Mirror
published, in December 2013, articles about Lord Hanningfield
spending short periods of time on the parliamentary estate in
July 2013 whilst claiming the daily allowance of £300. Following
the articles a complaint was made to the Commissioner for Standards
alleging that Lord Hanningfield had breached the House's rules
on financial support for Members and therefore also breached the
Code of Conduct.
The Commissioner's findings
4. The Commissioner for Standards undertook an
investigation which focused on 11 sitting days in July 2013 when
Lord Hanningfield was on the parliamentary estate for fewer than
40 minutes and claimed £300 for each day. The Commissioner
found that Lord Hanningfield did not undertake parliamentary work
on the days in question and so breached paragraph 10(c) of
the Code of Conduct. The Commissioner found that Lord Hanningfield
wrongly claimed £3,300 in daily allowance. In making incorrect
claims the Commissioner found Lord Hanningfield failed to act
on his personal honour.
5. The facts are set out briefly in the report
from the Sub-Committee on Lords' Conduct and in detail in the
report from the Commissioner for Standards.
6. The Sub-Committee on Lords' Conduct has considered
the case and recommended that Lord Hanningfield be required to
repay the £3,300 he wrongly claimed and that he be suspended
from the service of the House until the end of the current Parliament
(which is the maximum sanction available).
Lord Hanningfield's appeal
7. Lord Hanningfield appealed to the Committee
against the findings of the Commissioner for Standards and against
the sanctions recommended by the Sub-Committee.
The Committee's role
8. The role of the Committee for Privileges and
Conduct when there is an appeal is set out in paragraph 133
of the Guide to the Code:
"On appeal, the Committee will not reopen
the Commissioner's investigation. Rather members of the Committee
will use their judgment to decide whether, on the balance of probabilities,
they endorse the conclusions of the Commissioner; they will also
consider whether or not the recommended sanction is appropriate."
9. Accordingly, the Committee has considered
the reports of the Commissioner and the Sub-Committee. The Committee
has also considered Lord Hanningfield's written appeal and heard
oral evidence from him. Lord Hanningfield's written appeal and
the full transcript of the meeting with him are printed with this
report (at Annex 3).
Lord Hanningfield's submissions
10. In his written appeal Lord Hanningfield stated
that his psychological and physical health prevented him from
spending more time on the parliamentary estate on the 11 days
covered by the Commissioner's investigation. He argued that it
was never his intention to attend purely so that he could claim
allowances and explained that it had taken time to rebuild his
confidence as a member of the House.
11. Lord Hanningfield was unable to point to
any specific work that he had undertaken on the 11 days covered
by the Commissioner's investigation. In his written appeal he
argued that he had prepared for a debate on railways and that
the Commissioner was wrong to assert that the debate "did
not then exist" on the dates under investigation.
However, when questioned during his appeal hearing he stated that
he found out about the debate on railways "right at the end
of the month, around recess time".
In saying this Lord Hanningfield confirmed the Commissioner's
conclusion that there was no evidence he had undertaken preparation
for the debate on any of the dates in question; it is a matter
of fact that nobody knew about the debate for the first nine dates
12. During his appeal hearing Lord Hanningfield
said that he did not view the daily allowance as a sum of money
claimable in relation to a specific day's work but instead he
viewed it as recompense for the ongoing work of being a Member
of the House. He stated
that he was now of the view that it was inappropriate of him to
have claimed the £300 full allowance for the days in question
and that he should have claimed the reduced rate of £150
a day. He asked for the amount he should be required to pay back
to be reduced accordingly.
13. In our view it is clear that the daily allowance
should be claimed only on days when parliamentary work has been
undertaken. The claim form that Members of the House are required
to sign when claiming the daily allowance includes the following
text "I certify that any travel claimed was for the purpose
of attending the House or a Committee of the House and that I
have undertaken Parliamentary work on the dates specified and
claim the allowances/expenses for the month stated." The
House Committee report, which established the system of financial
support for Members, required Members in making claims for all
forms of daily allowance to certify "that they are receiving
the allowance in respect of parliamentary work" and nowhere
does any of the guidance suggest that this requirement does not
apply to claims of £150. In his interviews with the Commissioner
Lord Hanningfield said that he did not consider claiming the £150
because "it would not be worth me coming here".
The Committee's decision
- The Committee does not uphold
Lord Hanningfield's appeal. We recommend that Lord Hanningfield
be required to repay to the House the £3,300 he wrongly claimed
and that he be suspended from the service of the House until the
end of the current Parliament.
1 Page 44. Back
Q 5. Back
Q 8. Back
Appendix F, page 34. Back