The House of Lords approved without a vote new rules which will mean that all 798 peers will have to attend behaviour training course or face being reported to the Lords Commissioner for Standards for breaching their code of conduct.
two public dissenters
The scheme had only two public dissenters – both Conservative peers – who claimed it was unnecessary. The move followed a couple of cases in the last year where two former Labour peers were found to have bullied and harassed Parliamentary staff. See my last blog here.
Lord Cormack, a former Tory MP who had a junior job in the Thatcher government said; “Speaking as one who has served in Parliament for over 50 years now, it is a very sad day when I am told that I have to be trained on how to behave. That is extremely unfortunate, and I believe that it is unnecessary. “
… “I regret and deplore it. After all, it is right that people accused of any offence should be appropriately dealt with, but I do not suppose that it would be thought appropriate for your Lordships to be given a course in how not to burgle.”
Lord Balfe, who as Richard Balfe was a former London Labour councillor and a Labour MEP until he switched to the Tories in 2002, called for the House of Lords Conduct committee to reconsider the move.
“I regret the compulsion attached to this training. I have done the training. It was largely irrelevant; most of it was about the House of Commons, or appeared to be.”
Lord Mance, a former judge and deputy president of the Supreme Court, chairs the Lords conduct committee which proposed the compulsory training, received support from a number of other peers who welcomed the move.
He said: “There is, unfortunately, a clear problem, even in this House. People sometimes behave in ways that one may not conceive of oneself, but that are recorded in great detail in the press and in the reports issued by the commissioner. Unconscious attitudes, and lack of consciousness of a problem, are real issues that the Valuing Everyone training is designed to address.”
All peers will have to either have attended or booked a training course by next April. Half of them have already attended one.