Byles Bill is now law

Lord Norton

Parliament was prorogued this evening.  Prior to prorogation, remaining Bills that have passed all their stages receive Royal Assent.  One of the Bills getting Royal Assent tonight was the Byles Bill – now the House of Lords Reform Act 2014.  We thus have in place provision for the expulsion of any member sentenced to a term of imprisonment of more than twelve months, thus bringing us into line with the House of Commons.

Yesterday, just before giving a Third Reading to the Byles Bill, the House agreed the 15th Report from the Privileges and Conduct Committee which, in anticipation of the Bill becoming law, introduced provisions for dealing with peers who are sentenced to imprisonment for up and including twelve months.  Anyone so sentenced will be deemed to be in breach of the Code of Conduct, enabling the House then to take action in respect of the offending peer.

The Act is a modest measure, but a necessary one.  It is gratifying to see at least part of the original Steel Bill making it to the statute book.  In the new session, there will be discussions in the Campaign for an Effective Chamber as to what other provisions to pursue.



44 comments for “Byles Bill is now law

  1. 14/05/2014 at 7:51 pm

    How does this new Act affect Lord Black of Crossharbour, who served time in the United States?

    By the bye, looking forward to renewed endeavours from the Campaign for an Effective Second Chamber.

    • Lord Norton
      15/05/2014 at 8:26 am

      There are separate provisions for those convicted by courts outside the UK, though I suspect Lord Black may be caught by the provisions on non-attendance.

  2. Lord Blagger
    14/05/2014 at 9:42 pm

    So when is Archer for the chop?

    • Lord Norton
      15/05/2014 at 8:25 am

      He looks likely being caught now by section 2.

    • maude elwes
      15/05/2014 at 10:12 am

      There is more than Archer there and ready to be up for the flush.

      However, what you need to consider, Blagger, are those they make sure never come before a court. The expenses thieves, the sexual predators, and the rest they close ranks around. And they close these ranks in the deepest belief that should they also be caught in a mire of their own making, they too will stand protected by their fellow peers.

      Whilst this move appears to be in the right direction, only time and action will tell of genuine intention. Nevertheless, it’s a good beginning.

      • Lord Blagger
        15/05/2014 at 2:42 pm

        Quite right Maude.

        Why should Hanningfield be exempt?

        Why would they hide their attendances? With Hanningfield we have a clue. Hanningfield was caught ‘clocking on’. Now that’s exactly why FOI requests about their ‘clocking on’ were deemed a state secret. In Hanningfield’s case journalists watched him coming and going. The Lords won’t control themselves.

        Hence they have to go.

        • Lord Norton
          15/05/2014 at 2:45 pm

          Lord Blagger: This makes no sense at all. Peers cannot hide their attendances.

          • LordBlagger
            15/05/2014 at 2:51 pm

            They can from the public. I have the state secrecy certificates from Michael Pownall making your attendance a state secret.

            Would you care to join in on an FOI request to the current Clerk of Parliaments to prove that current attendances are state secrets too?

            ie. FOI to flush out the other Peers doing a Hanningfield?

            If you refuse I’ll take it that attendances and days claimed are two different things.

          • Lord Norton
            15/05/2014 at 4:47 pm

            Lord Blagger: No they cannot. Attendance is a matter of public record. Peers only count as having attended if they are present at a committee meeting or attend the chamber and are seen by a clerk or attendant and their name is ticked on the list of members. They can then claim their attendance allowance for that day. Their attendance and what they claim is then published. A peer who is in the Palace of Westminster but does not attend a committee or the chamber and has their name ticked is not deemed to have attended and is not able to claim the attendance allowance for that day.

          • LordBlagger
            16/05/2014 at 7:27 am

            No they cannot. Attendance is a matter of public record.


            No. It’s a state secret. I have the certificates from the previous clerk of parliaments stating its a secret.

            So I’ll ask again.

            Are you going to join me on an FOI request for peers attendances to the Clerk of Parliaments. A peer asking for data that’s a state secret is going to get you into his bad books.

          • LordBlagger
            19/05/2014 at 9:56 am

            We shall see. I’ve FOI’ed for your last year’s attendances. When you used your passes to get in.

            Now if its as you say, I’ll get the information. After all with you declaring its public knowledge, you can’t complain on data protection grounds can you.

            Now if I do get the information, then I will be resubmitting the FOI request that was refused, and we will see if we can get the information for that period.

            I’ve done the same for Deech, because she’s been repeating your story.

        • 16/05/2014 at 3:31 pm

          Lord Blagger, it would be interesting to read the reply you received from the Clerk of Parliaments. As Lord Norton’s reply suggests, you can’t request information that doesn’t exist. The only records they have are attendance records – yes or no – that are published. They don’t keep more detailed records as to members’ comings and goings. You might be justified in arguing that they should keep such records, but going on about “state secrets” is just silly.

          • Lord Norton
            19/05/2014 at 10:11 pm

            Jonathan: Lord Blagger seems to think that it is possible to track attendance electronically because some entrances are pass protected (you have to swipe your pass to get through). I have tried explaining that the main entrance to the Lords, used by peers – Peers’ Entrance – is not pass protected (you simply have to walk in, the entrace policed by security staff); peers can thus enter and leave the Palace without leaving any electronic footprint. I typically spend twelve to fourteen hours in the House on Wednesdays. If I did not go to the chamber and be seen (to have my name ticked), vote, or attend a committee, there would be no record kept of my attendance.

          • tizres
            20/05/2014 at 2:24 am

            Jonathan, Lord Norton, et al:

            LordBlagger has been asked before to provide evidence of his correspondence with the Clerk of Parliaments eg (see request from Malden Capell)

            Answer came there none.

            A clue may be found in his numerous Freedom of Information requests eg from which one may deduce that such ‘certificates’ in his ‘possession’ are, shall we say, ‘tinsel’ in his eyes.

            I would be more interested to know if he refutes that he is the same ‘Lord Blagger’ as here:

            “Then we have Michael Pownall, who is responsible for dishing out the cash, investigating his own handling, and then making the report a state secret. Hence the 13 whiteys get off.

            Meanwhile, the Blacks and Asians on the same game get tarred and prosecuted (in the case of Taylor).

            It’s fundamentally corrupt and racist.”


          • LordBlagger
            20/05/2014 at 9:30 am

            No, there are other records. There is a pass system at Westminster. You need a pass to get access to the estate.

            The head of security confirms this and that the records exist. He also confirms you can’t get in without a pass, or a temporary pass being registered.

            Now this is completely different from the claims.

            It’s completely different from what the clerks put in the books.

            Do you understand the difference?

          • Lord Norton
            20/05/2014 at 11:30 am

            LordBlagger: You need to have a pass to enter via Peers’ Entrance. That is different from any record being kept of entering.

      • Howell of Trent Valley
        15/05/2014 at 6:10 pm

        “those they make sure never come before a court.”

        Maude is now talking about institutionalized corruption.
        Isnt that what parliament is all about? It used to be the business of the HofL but not so much now with a majority of life peers.

        • Lord Norton
          16/05/2014 at 9:50 am

          LordBlagger: You cannot ask for something that is secret when it is not secret but a matter of public record. It is in the public domain. There is nothing else in terms of peers’ attendance. Attendance is determined in the way I have explained. The data are then published. There is no ‘attendance’ other than in the way I have explained.

          When I was an undergraduate, some militant students claimed the university was keeping secret records. The VC explained there were no secret records. The students asked him to prove it. The VC pointed out you cannot prove a negative.

  3. Senex
    15/05/2014 at 10:15 am

    So there we have it! Do not cross Black Rod or the Usher and if you are going to do something dastardly don’t get caught. Must we assume that the report is not anticipatory but reflects what has actually been going on?

    As this is the Royal House must we also assume by association that the Royals will be bound by the same code of conduct on a voluntary basis?

    As an aside and in a committee session last year that included Lords Norton, Tyler and a Peer Historian there was talk of revolting MPs. In an unguarded moment Lord Tyler said “hairdresser, now where did that come from?” Could we see influence extend to the appointment of a house hairdresser?

    If only mutatis mutandis could be extended to what the Commons does how much simpler serving a life sentence would be.

  4. Tory Boy
    15/05/2014 at 1:05 pm

    Is the legislation retrospective i.e. peers can be expelled if they have previously been in jail for more than 12 months?

    • Lord Norton
      15/05/2014 at 2:44 pm

      Tory Boy: No, it is not retrospective.

      • 16/05/2014 at 3:24 pm

        Indeed, would making it retrospective not be in breach of Article 7 of the ECHR?

        • Croft
          17/05/2014 at 11:38 am

          Probably not – though doubtless there could be a case and the ECHR is fairly odd at the best of times

  5. LordBlagger
    15/05/2014 at 2:48 pm

    Section 3.2.b is ambiguous as it doesn’t specify whether its time served. i.e A peer could argue if they have been sentenced to 1 year that its discounted at the start and they only serve a could of months. That’s also emphasized because there is another section where suspended sentences are ignored.

    Loop holes as always.

    • Lord Norton
      15/05/2014 at 4:48 pm

      LordBlagger: The section is quite clear. It is the sentence. Time served is only deducted from a sentence.

  6. Howell of Trent Valley
    15/05/2014 at 6:15 pm

    If Australia applied such a law, it would rule out Julian Assange as president of an independent Australia in 2041.

    Ah!But he hasnt been locked up and hopefully he wont be.
    Cool! And he has no such ambition.

    Wot if you’ve been locked up in India, for example? Ha!ha!

  7. LordBlagger
    16/05/2014 at 7:24 am

    Your sentence is your punishment. If your punishment was 4 months served, you get off.

    So what happened to the get Archer promise?

    We’re going to have fraudsters, criminals, liars, dictating to us as well as the unelected.

    Why wasn’t it anyone sentenced to a year barred as a peer?

    Why isn’t it any criminal offence bars you from office?

    Perhaps too many Peers are criminals.

    • Lord Norton
      16/05/2014 at 9:53 am

      LordBlagger: You now seem to be changing tack. It is the sentence that counts. The Lords is now in line with the Commons. If the sentence is 12 months or less, then the recommendations approved by the House on Tuesday take effect.

      • LordBlagger
        20/05/2014 at 10:59 am

        Not sure I understand your argument. The Lords is OK because it allows criminals to dictate to us, because the Commons does the same.

        Bit like the Yorkshire ripper trying to get off because Jack the Ripper wasn’t caught.

        Back to the questions you haven’t answered.

        1. Why should Archer be ruling in anyway over people in the UK when its been done for perjury?

        2. Why should any criminal be ruling over us? Hanningfield being a good example (he’s coming back remember)

        3. Why is being in line with the Commons a good thing? Their rules again mean criminals being in charge. Although at least there its pretty clear that a criminal conviction means you are out. Not in the case of the Lords.

        • Lord Norton
          20/05/2014 at 4:24 pm

          There’s an ascending scale of sanctions depending on the sentence. That seems eminently rational.

          • LordBlagger
            20/05/2014 at 5:53 pm

            Archer. You’re not saying why Archer should dictate to us?

            4 years for perjury. Well beyond the 12 months.

            Ditto for the question. Why 12 months? Why not any criminal conviction?

            If you dictate the law, and you break it with mens rea, it strikes me you shouldn’t be in that job.

  8. LordBlagger
    20/05/2014 at 2:14 pm

    LordBlagger: You need to have a pass to enter via Peers’ Entrance. That is different from any record being kept of entering.


    It’s different from the FOI response I’ve had from the head of security of Westminster. So who to believe?

    • Lord Norton
      20/05/2014 at 4:23 pm

      LordBlagger: Then I suggest you show the responses you have had instead of making assertions about them.

  9. Lord Blagger
    20/05/2014 at 2:20 pm

    More for Tizrez on the racism.

    Amir Bhatia, Baron Bhatia has been suspended from the House of Lords for eight months and told to repay £27,446
    Anthony Clarke, Baron Clarke of Hampstead admitted that he “fiddled” his expenses to make up for not being paid a salary.[145]
    Lord Hanningfield was charged with two alleged offences under section 17 of the Theft Act 1968 (“false accounting”).[121][122] He stepped down from his frontbench role on learning of the charges on 5 February 2010.[146] On 26 May 2011, Lord Hanningfield was found guilty on six counts.
    Swraj Paul, Baron Paul has been suspended from the House of Lords for four months and ordered to pay back £41,982
    John Taylor, Baron Taylor of Warwick pleaded not guilty to six charges of false accounting, but was convicted at Southwark Crown Court on 25 January 2011.
    Baroness Uddin faces a police investigation for alleged fraud for claiming at least £180,000 in expenses by designating an empty flat, and previously an allegedly non existent property as her main residence. She was suspended from the House of Lords until the end of 2012 and told to repay £125,349[147][148]


    So 50%, Asian and Black get done.

    You’ll have to explain that.

    Were they targeted?

    Or do you have another explanation as to why so many are black or asian?

  10. 20/05/2014 at 9:23 pm

    Lord Norton,

    By way of example could you list three things that really are deep and close secrets of the peers and/or the House of Lords?

    • Lord Norton
      21/05/2014 at 9:40 pm

      Franksummers3ba: Hmm, cannot think of anything. We tend not to do things that are particularly secret and any old secrets have long been found by researchers…

  11. maude elwes
    21/05/2014 at 7:04 am

    When you read through this entire thread, the only logical conclusion a sane person can make, is, do away with the Lords as it is, and have the lot resort to the electorate for the right to sit in those comfortable seats of privilege.

    This is the single way to true democracy. We do not live in a democratic country. We are ruled by elitists who pray on every single one of us. And they do it with disdain. And the disdain comes through our consent for them to continue the maltreatment.

    If you give an abuser consent to carry out a dastardly act against you, his repulsion toward you grows into a desire to eliminate, as he then considers your tacit agreement means you asked him for it.

    • tizres
      21/05/2014 at 1:35 pm

      Maude Elwes,

      “…our consent for them…”

      A bit of a give away.

      • maude elwes
        21/05/2014 at 4:50 pm


        Agreed, a touch Doolittle.

    • Lord Norton
      21/05/2014 at 9:41 pm

      maude elwes: ‘those comfortable seats of privilege…’ You have clearly not sat on the benches.

      • maude elwes
        22/05/2014 at 1:02 pm


        Ah, LN, I may have. Once, when I was taking a tour of the house with two small boys who were so excited by it they wanted to sit in all of the seats. We were left behind and it was empty. Perhaps we just tried it.

        However, the privilege is in the perception of office, not in the stiffness of the bench.

  12. Senex
    22/05/2014 at 1:12 pm

    Maude, our democracy has changed from Athenian independence and self reliance in both houses to a Socratic form that pays the wages of those who engage with it. Worst still it operates to create and encourage a dependant electorate.

    To demonstrate: the ‘Athenian’ Swiss in a May 2014 referendum rejected a rise in the minimum wage to €18 whilst here the Labour Party wants to see ours linked to average earnings and at a time when the structural deficit remains untouched.

    Socratic democracy relies on an infinite supply of money and when not forthcoming it bears down very harshly on those who are unwilling to part with theirs. Socrates wants your money honey!

    Members who have transgressed are if nothing else enterprising.

    Ref: History of Tax Resistance; Lady Godiva’s Ride

    • maude elwes
      25/05/2014 at 8:06 am

      @ Senex:

      First of all I want to address your line that tells us that a Socratic premise for government operates to encourage a dependent electorate. You will have to elaborate on that little line. Who is dependent of whom?

      As I see it, government is dependent on the citizen, not the other way around. And Corporations and those who are in business of all kinds are super dependent on the tax payer. When you look into all manner of subsidy it is those who are wrapped up in the supply of meager job offers who are given far in excess of what they deserve to keep them afloat. Take the railways and the tax evaders for a start.

      When the ordinary man in the street pays his taxes, in whatever form that takes, he is doing it with the intention of it being an insurance policy of all kinds. The NHS, education, utilities, roads, infrastructure of every kind, and lastly, to enable him to escape destitution when sick or in old age. And this form of insurance policy is available to us all, rich or poor.

      The attack we are presently witnessing by government (those who rely on the insurance policy of us all in the extreme) against the man in the street is unconscionable in the extreme. Politicians ran the country into the ground and left it the way it is now, by bailing out banks and removing available jobs to the third world. Including much of the IT provision, and then, to add injury to insult, thrown the payer of their own wages onto the street because they have had to rely on the insurance policy to feed themselves. At the same time as bringing about this downfall on society, they imported millions of people from outside our borders to fill the few positions left at lesser wages than were needed to sustain an acceptable life in a civilised community.

      If the Swiss voted against an increase in their basic rate of pay that is to do with the way of life they have there. It has nothing at all to do with the British people as they are not in the happy position of having Direct Democracy to vote on any policy government here want to ram down their throats. Not to mention the standard of living in Switzerland is way higher than here in the UK. Ours is a joke in comparison to theirs. We compare with barbarians to the Romans when put against that country.

      So, lay out what it is you are getting at. As I see it, government has stolen from the public and thrown them to the lions to shut them up. I will discuss the differences between Athenian and Socratic in my next post.

  13. maude elwes
    28/05/2014 at 7:21 am


    Athenian v Socratic. To clarify what we are addressing, I feel it a good move to put up what I believe it is you want to discuss.

    And a longer and more torturous version the Socratic viewpoint.

    All systems of government have flaws. There will never be a superior option as man manipulates and uses all he obtains, mentally and physically, to his own benefit. Hence corruption seeps into any direction he takes. Justice, as beauty, unfortunately, is in the eye of the beholder. Which becomes the same situation when deciding who is best equipped to teach the future generation.

    We are in a terrible mess presently, on all levels of our civilization, so, something has to give. And it will come about through the will of the people. As we are on the verge of witness. A move, I feel, man has to make.

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