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Privileges and Conduct

Volume 755: debated on Thursday 17 July 2014

Motion to Agree

Moved by

That the 1st Report from the Select Committee (The conduct of Lord Blencathra) (HL Paper 21) be agreed to.

This report follows an investigation by the Commissioner for Standards into the conduct of the noble Lord, Lord Blencathra. In March 2014 a complaint was made on the basis of an article in the Independent that the noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, had, in his former capacity as director of the Cayman Islands Government Office in the United Kingdom, signed a contract that would have involved him providing parliamentary services to the Cayman Islands Government. Among the services that the noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, in the contract agreed to provide were,

“liaising with and making representations to ... Members of Parliament in the House of Commons, and Members of the House of Lords”.

The commissioner found that by agreeing to a contract that would involve the provision of parliamentary services the noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, breached paragraph 8(d) of the Code of Conduct. Although the commissioner found that there was no evidence that the noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, in fact provided such services, the content of the contract in itself established the breach.

Paragraphs 129 and 130 of the Guide to the Code of Conduct place on the sub-committee the function of deciding a sanction in cases where there is a breach. The sub-committee’s decision was that the noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, be required to make a personal statement of apology to the House in terms approved by the chairman of the sub-committee.

The noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, accepted the findings of the commissioner and the sanction of the sub-committee. He did not appeal to the Committee for Privileges and Conduct. Paragraph 132 of the Guide to the Code of Conduct states:

“If the Member does not appeal to the Committee for Privileges and Conduct in the event of a complaint being upheld, the Committee reports forthwith to the House in the terms recommended by the Sub-Committee”.

I therefore report the findings of the commissioner and the sub-committee to the House. Paragraph 25 of the code states:

“The Sub-Committee also keeps the Guide to the Code of Conduct under regular review”.

The Committee for Privileges and Conduct has asked the sub-committee to carry out such a review.

My understanding is that if this report is agreed today, the noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, intends to make his personal statement immediately after the report has been agreed. I beg to move.

Motion agreed.