– in the House of Lords at 3:07 pm on 17 December 2013.

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Photo of Lord Hill of Oareford Lord Hill of Oareford Leader of the House of Lords and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster 3:07, 17 December 2013

My Lords, like me, noble Lords will have been completely dismayed to read the reports in the press this morning about the behaviour of a Member of our House. They will have been dismayed about the behaviour and dismayed about the shadow that it casts over the whole House. On behalf of the party leaders and the Convenor, whose collective views I know I reflect, I thought that I should briefly remind the House of steps that are already in train for us to deal with the small number of Members whose behaviour falls below the standards that we rightly expect.

First, I have recently taken proposals through the House Committee to adopt a new sanction which would in future enable us to withdraw financial support and access to facilities from Members who breach the Code of Conduct. This would enable us to broaden our range of sanctions and I hope that it will be welcomed when it comes before the House in the new year. Secondly, a Private Member’s Bill being brought forward by Dan Byles MP would enable us to expel permanently Members who commit a serious criminal offence. The Government support this Bill and I look forward to it making progress. Thirdly, it is my view and one that I know is shared by all the group leaders that we should be looking to amend our Code of Conduct to make it possible for us to have more discretion to take action against those who in future bring the House into disrepute.

Despite stories like today’s, I am extremely proud of the work that we do in this Chamber of legislating, scrutinising and holding the Government to account. For our part, the leaders will take forward in the new year the steps that I have outlined, but, ultimately, the reputation of this House rests in all our hands, which is why I believe that noble Lords will want to support steps to strengthen the sanctions available to us next year.