Lords behaving badly: “Value Everyone” compulsory training proposed for all peers next week

Changes proposed after two peers in their 70s and 80s were found to have bullied and sexually harassed women

A new report from the House of Lords says all 798 peers must undergo training courses in ” Valuing People” or face sanctions including the withdrawal of services.

And former MPs who become peers will face fresh investigations by the authorities if they face complaints about bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct while they were a Member of Parliament. At present a loophole means if peers are accused of anything while they were an MP they can escape investigation.

These tough new rules from the House of Lords conduct committee come into force next week if the peers vote for the changes. The full report is here. Members have until next April to complete the training. Those who refuse after that date will be referred to the Commissioner of Standards for breaching the code of conduct.

It is against a background of growing number of complaints about the treatment of staff by both MPs and peers. One former Tory MP and minister is under investigation by the Met Police for alleged rape of a staff member at the moment.

In the last year two Labour peers have been investigated by the Lords Commissioner for Standards, Lucy Scott-Moncrieff  TWICE for breaching standards.

18 complaints

Lord Lea of Crondall, 82, as David Lea, a former TUC assistant general secretary, had two reports whose findings were upheld. Altogether it was revealed that since 2011 no fewer than 18 complaints were made against him.

The report said: “They included one instance involving a racially offensive remark, 15 complaints involving shouting at staff, being aggressive and
making unreasonable demands, and one occasion where a woman had been made to feel uncomfortable by Lord Lea’s alleged behaviour.”

champagne and silver gilt framed photo

The complaint from the woman followed a time she accompanied him on a Parliamentary delegation. According to the report :

” Lord Lea made her very uncomfortable by his behaviour
towards her, which included inviting her to his room to share a bottle of
champagne that he had been given. “

He followed it up later when she had left Parliament for a new job . Then “she received a package from Lord Lea at her place
of work that contained a silver-framed photograph of her taken on the official visit. It also contained a letter from Lord Lea explaining, amongst other things, that he keeps a copy of the photo on his piano at his home. He also invited me to visit him at home and referred to finishing “that bottle of champagne.’’

Lord Lea told the Commissioner: “I think she is egging the pudding in some
way. I can’t think of any reason why she should, if she didn’t have some
feelings for me or some other reason to be disturbed.”

The commissioner decided his behaviour did not amount to sexual misconduct or bullying but harassment.

He agreed to take up voluntary a bespoke behaviour management course but immediately ran into trouble when he forgot to inform the security staff that his coach was coming to Parliament so they could let the person in. He took it out on his staff leading to a fresh complaint of bullying which was upheld.

Lord Lea was asked to apologise to the member of staff :

He wrote: “I am not known for being a bully: I acknowledge having been very argumentative— highly audibly so—on that fateful day, concerning the predicament I found myself in regarding the apparent disappearance of my newly appointed trainer and you said you had felt ‘belittled’ as a consequence.”

Sexist and transphobic remarks

Lord Stone of Blackheath,78, a former managing director of Marks and Spencer, has also TWICE been found by the Commissioner to have breached the code of conduct. Complaints by four women were upheld only to be followed by a complaint from a fifth woman about being harassed.

In the first case it included allegations of sexist and transphobic remarks as well as unwanted touching.

Among several alleged incidents recorded by the Commissioner, he told a colleague that she was beautiful “to boost her self-esteem” and grabbed her arm.

He also allegedly stroked another staff member’s arm and said to her that he hoped a document on the bill to outlaw upskirting came with photos.

The second case involved two more complaints from women. He met one young woman at a dinner party and offered her a private tour of Parliament. She came with her cousin. He told her she was ” young and beautiful”.

“Lord Stone greeted her in an overfamiliar manner, kissing her on both cheeks near her mouth, and repeatedly touched her arms and her waist during the tour and while having tea in one of the House’s restaurants.”

Lord Stone told the commissioner that: “He was “upset by the inference
that [his] behaviour toward… was anything other than to try and assist”.
He accepted that “her account is factually accurate” but insisted that “the
connotations of inappropriate behaviour that she makes are wholly inaccurate and seem to me be the product of her imagination.”

He was found to have broken the code by harassment and has taken a bespoke course in behaviour management.

Labour Party suspension

Both peers have been suspended from the Labour Party. Half the members of the House of Lords have voluntarily attended the course already. The full list is here.

It is an extraordinary situation that in the times we live that such courses are needed, let alone deemed compulsory. One would have thought that people when they join the House of Lords would know that bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct are out of order. But perhaps not.

4 thoughts on “Lords behaving badly: “Value Everyone” compulsory training proposed for all peers next week

  1. David, I am not acting as the defence for these noble Lords, but they do come from a different era in which many of these practices seemed part and parcel of life. I know of someone who told me he pinched the bottom of a very well known public figure, surely it was not sexual attraction I queried. Now 36 years after the event, it seems a unbelievable story, but according to sources he was telling the truth.
    The reaction of women of course varied, some smiled, some smiled but were not happy about it, while the odd one give them a good kick, but people accepted it. Interestingly if a man did the same to a man, he may have ended up been in the hands of the police.
    But society has undergone a social transformation and such behaviour is no longer tolerated, as the role of women as changed and many hold managerial positions and we have had two or three women prime-ministers.
    I am not saying its perfect, but neither is the representation in the House of Lords. If we need a second chamber even if its role is becoming more advisory as they years go by, surely we need people who have modern skills, the world as moved on and is unrecognisable even to those born in the post war baby boom. We live in an IT world, and Covid as speeded up what was the slow transformation of changing work patterns brought about by IT.
    For many people they no longer need to travel x amount of miles a day. I can give you examples galore of the rapid almost revolutionary changes in work, going on in front of our eyes, office workers told just to stay at home and work, a city centre once the hive of activity, now resembling ghost towns, we face huge challenges in the years ahead, but is a upper house full of old men of the battles of yesteryear the type of people we need now.
    “You have been sat to long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!.”
    Oliver Cromwell addressing the Rump Parliament. 1653

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  2. Good! It’s about time all this filth was removed especially Paedophiles. Our lives have to change now, we’ve been ruled by satanists for too long.

    Angie

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  3. i’ve never been one very comfortable around people generally and pretty useless at approaching the opposite sex, especially when i’m attracted to them….i have appalling social skills tbf, strong silent type doesn’t really work……but i have to say some of these ‘allegations’ hardly seem remotely criminal to me….people misconstruing things, or just kidding themselves maybe (on the alleged perp side)….some people/ women can be over sensitive, imagine more than there was…maybe looking for a meal ticket…or just not mature enough to ‘reject advances respectively’….there are attractive women out there who must get hit on repeatedly every day….rather than just laugh in the guy’s face or react aggressively/ make something out of nothing….find a better way of dealing with it? comes with maturity i guess…..and yes i know, i’m practically a virgin….(I don’t count the rapes…)

    but in the current climate now i read on so many cases where the accused is automatically judged as guilty and years of abuse before (even when there is) a trial….judges only allow the jury (when there is one) to see only the evidence they want to see, rejecting all else…and that is only when the accused actually have people on the outside to the actual investigating for him….gagging orders = total mockery of anything that resembles justice! and i can’t even get my torturers, attempted murderers and rapists even investigated or crimes committed against me acknowledged….

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