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As the story has continued to run this week about the Sunday Times allegation that Labour peers have taken money in return for getting laws amended, David Cameron has tonight pledged to reform the system which operates in the Upper House to allow for punishments for those who break the rules.

In short, he wants to allow for members of the Lords who behave wrongly or break the code of conduct to be suspended or expelled.

He is setting up a committee to advise him on how this can be done, but is determined that procedures and indeed laws be changed in order to introduce sanctions for wrongdoing.

He said:

"Today,
it’s not possible to suspend a member of the House of Lords no matter
how badly he or she behaves, it’s not possible to expel them from that
legislature and yet they’re making the laws that all of us have to obey.
This
is completely wrong, it needs to change and we will change it. We will
make sure that members of the House of Lords, if they behave wrongly,
can be suspended or expelled. Simple as that.

"There is a good code of conduct for members of the House
of Lords but if they breach it there aren’t proper sanctions, there
aren’t proper punishments. That’s wrong, that needs to change.

"That’s
why I’m setting up this committee to advise me, to look at the issues
of lobbying, consultancies, what is declared and what the procedures
are. I think it’s very important that we absolutely make sure that our
Parliament is sorted out and everyone knows that both Houses of
Parliament, Commons and Lords, the people there, are working hard,
declaring their expenses and allowances properly, doing the things they
are meant to do and are open in all the declarations they make about
any outside interests or any other things that they might have.

"It’s
about transparency, making sure everyone declares everything everybody
needs to know and it’s making sure we have a proper process so bad
behaviour is rooted out and dealt with."

There is little I can add except to say amen to that. If public faith in our parliamentary institutions is to be properly restored, politicians need to be going about their business transparently and honestly – and they need to be seen to be doing so.

As such, it is only right that those in the House of Lords who behave improperly should be subject to sanctions similar to those applied to their counterparts in the Commons.

Jonathan Isaby

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