General principles and rules of conduct

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5.29Members of the Lords are required both ‘to comply with the Code of Conduct ’ (paragraph 8(a) of the Code), and to act always ‘on their personal honour’ in the discharge of their parliamentary duties and activities (paragraph 8(b)). These paragraphs of the Code, taken together, mean that Lords Members are required not only to obey the letter of the rules, but to act in accordance with the spirit of those rules and the sense of the House. Paragraph 8 of the Guide states accordingly that ‘a Member who expresses a clear willingness to breach the Code … demonstrates a failure to act on his or her personal honour, and is thus in breach of paragraph 8(b) of the Code’. Conduct such as sexually harassing a complainant, offering corrupt inducements to sleep with a Lords Member, or sexually assaulting and exploiting a complainant has been considered a failure to act on personal honour when connected to the discharge of parliamentary duties or activities.1

Lords Members are required under paragraph 7 of the Code to base their actions on consideration of the public interest and to ‘resolve any conflict between their personal interest and the public interest at once, and in favour of the public interest’. Acceptance of financial inducement as an incentive or reward for exercising parliamentary influence would necessarily contravene this principle. Paragraph 8(c) of the Code therefore states that Lords Members ‘must never accept or agree to accept any financial inducement as an incentive or reward for exercising parliamentary influence’.

Paragraph 8(d) of the Code describes the specific application of the principles described in paragraphs 7 and 8(c): Lords Members ‘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’.

The prohibition on accepting payment in return for parliamentary advice means that Lords Members may not act as paid parliamentary consultants, advising outside organisations or persons on process, for example how they may lobby or otherwise influence the work of Parliament. The prohibition on accepting payment in return for parliamentary services means that Lords Members may not, in return for payment or other incentive or reward, assist outside organisations or persons in influencing Members of either House, Ministers or officials. This includes seeking by means of participation in proceedings of the House to confer exclusive benefit upon the organisation; or making use of their position to lobby, or to help others to lobby, Members of either House, Ministers or officials.2

Footnotes

  1. 1. Committee for Privileges and Conduct, Second Report of Session 2017–19, The conduct of Lord Lester of Herne Hill, HL 220; Conduct Committee, Sixth Report of Session 2019–21, The conduct of Lord Ahmed, HL 170.
  2. 2. Guide to the Code of Conduct, paras 19–22.