My Lords, in speaking to this Motion, I shall speak also to the three following Motions in my name on the Order Paper.
The facts in the cases of Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate and Lord Laird are set out at length in the reports printed as House of Lords Papers 95 and 96. The two Lords were subject to what might be described as a sting operation by the Sunday Times newspaper. Lord Laird was, in addition, a subject of an undercover operation by the BBC television programme “Panorama”. In the course of conversations with undercover journalists posing as intermediaries for legitimate businesses or as communications consultants, the two Lords said things that the House’s Commissioner for Standards found to indicate a clear willingness to breach the House’s Code of Conduct, contrary to the requirement that they should always act on their personal honour. The commissioner found that Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate had in addition breached the code by improper use of the House’s facilities for hosting functions and by entering into an agreement to accept payment in return for providing a parliamentary service.
The Sub-Committee on Lords’ Conduct has the function of recommending the appropriate sanction for breaches of the code and has recommended suspension of Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate for six months and of Lord Laird for four months. The Committee for Privileges and Conduct has the task of reviewing the findings of the Commissioner for Standards and the recommended penalty in the event of any appeal by any Member of the House investigated by the commissioner. The Committee for Privileges and Conduct considered appeals by both Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate and Lord Laird and heard evidence from both of them. The committee decided not to uphold their appeals. Accordingly, I beg to move the first Motion in my name on the Order Paper.