Watchdog says 47 peers breached code of conduct over bullying training

Watchdog says 47 peers breached code of conduct over bullying training

House of Lords standards watchdog finds 47 peers breached code of conduct by failing to attend ‘Valuing Everyone’ anti-bullying training but lets them off with a slap on the wrist as four remain under investigation

  • Independent House of Lords Commissioner for Standards has published report
  • It found that 47 peers breached code of conduct by failing to attend training
  • Commissioner said breach ‘can be dealt with by remedial action’ of doing course

A standards watchdog has concluded 47 peers breached the House of Lords’ code of conduct by failing to attend ‘Valuing Everyone’ anti-bullying training – but they will be let off with a slap on the wrist. 

Peers were given until April 1, 2021, to attend the compulsory training which is designed to ‘help to ensure that everyone working in Parliament is able to recognise bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct’.

The independent House of Lords Commissioner for Standards today published its findings after investigating peers who failed to attend by the deadline. 

The Commissioner decided that the cases of the 47 members who breached the code can be ‘dealt with by remedial action of the Member concerned doing the course’.

The Commissioner said that more than 700 peers had managed to take the course before the deadline. 

All of the peers concerned have now either done the course, booked to attend or promised the Commissioner they will do so. 

Seven peers were excused from the investigation due to ‘exceptional circumstances’ while four cases remain under investigation because they ‘were not appropriate for remedial action’.  

 Peers were given until April 1, 2021, to attend the compulsory training which is designed to ‘help to ensure that everyone working in Parliament is able to recognise bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct’

Former deputy PM Lord Heseltine was among the peers referred to the watchdog for failing to attend the training

The House of Lords agreed in November 2020 to make attending the training mandatory under the code of conduct as the April deadline was put in place. 

Former deputy PM Lord Heseltine and author Lord Archer were among the peers referred to the watchdog for failing to attend the training. 

The two peers were among those given a slap on the wrist by the commissioner. 

The commissioner said in its report: ‘In all of the cases listed in paragraph 8, it is clear that the members are in breach of the Code by their failure to attend the Valuing Everyone training by the deadline of 1 April. 

‘However, I consider these breaches to be minor and acknowledged, and therefore suitable for remedial action.’ 

It added: ‘All of the members listed in paragraph 8 have now done the training, made a booking to do the training or given me an assurance that they will very soon make such a booking. I consider this to be sufficient remedial action.’

Baroness Boothroyd, the former Commons Speaker, was one of the peers excused from the investigation ‘due to exceptional circumstances’.  

News of the commissioner’s investigation in April prompted complaints from some peers that they had not been reminded about the training or simply did not know they needed to do it, amid disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.  

Lords sources said at the time that punishments could range from an informal rebuke to having to make a personal apology, or even indefinite suspension. 

The commissioner’s report said that some peers had been ‘inattentive of parliamentary communications and had overlooked or been unaware of the requirement to attend the training’. 

Other peers told the watchdog that they ‘do not routinely use their parliamentary email addresses’ or that they had experienced IT problems.  

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