SIXTY peers face investigation by standards watchdog and the threat of being kicked out of Parliament for failing to complete ‘valuing everyone’ training to tackle bullying and harassment despite many saying they were not told about it
- EXCLUSIVE: 60 peers face standards probe on missing ‘valuing everyone’ course
- The training was made part of the Code of Conduct last November without vote
- Standards commissioner launched formal investigations after deadline passed
- Number of peers complaining they were not informed the course was needed
- Training introduced as part of measures to combat bullying and harassment
Scores of peer are facing formal sleaze probes after failing to get ‘valuing everyone’ training – even though many do not appear to have been aware they needed it.
The Lords standards commissioner has launched investigations into around 60 members who are yet to take the training – which was introduced last year as part of measures to combat bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct.
In November last year the virtual course was made compulsory, meaning that anyone who had not completed it by April 1 was in breach of the Code of Conduct.
However, nearly a tenth of peers have fallen foul of the deadline, forcing commissioner Lucy Scott-Moncrieff to take action despite complaints that some have not been reminded or simply did not know they needed to comply.
Former deputy PM Lord Heseltine and author Lord Archer are among those who told MailOnline they have been blinsided by the move.
Lords sources said the punishments could range from an informal rebuke to having to make a personal apology, or even indefinite suspension.
Scores of peer are facing formal sleaze probes after failing to get ‘valuing everyone’ training – even though many do not appear to have been aware they needed it
Former deputy PM Lord Heseltine (right) and author Lord Archer (left) are among those who told MailOnline they have been blinsided by the move
A spokesman for the House authorities said: ‘We can’t comment on active investigations by the Commissioner for Standards.’
More than 700 peers are understood to have completed the training.
But the House’s website admits that the pandemic has caused ‘disruption’, ‘restricted the number of courses available’ and ‘led to the cancellation of some pre-booked courses’.
Former Cabinet minister Lord Heseltine, who is among the slew of peers listed as under investigation, told MailOnline he had recently undergone a knee operation and only heard about the situation two days later.
‘Beyond being told by the commissioner that I am under investigation in a subsequent letter nothing has changed,’ he said.
Lord Heseltine pointed out he has a strong record combating ‘the politics of prejudice’, saying he was the first Conservative MP to attack Enoch Powell in 1968.
‘I am perplexed that anyone thinks that people who indulge in racial or religious or sexual prejudice are going to change their habits by reading a few phrases,’ he said.
‘I have great doubts about the effectiveness of an anodyne document. I understand that this was passed without a division, the odd person I have spoken to about it was surprised themselves as it seemed to get no publicity at the time.’
On whether he would take the training, Lord Heseltine insisted he was focused on his recovery. ‘I haven’t said no, I haven’t said anything about this,’ he said.
A spokeswoman for author Lord Archer of Weston-super-Mare, another member under investigation, said he was not contacted about the training.
An aide to former foreign secretary Lord Owen said they had no record of the peer having been informed about the training, but he would be happy to undertake it if required.
‘We have repented. But we will be interested to learn more,’ the aide said.
Former national security adviser Lord Ricketts, who is also on the list, said: ‘I strongly support the Valuing Everyone programme. I will be taking the training on April 26.’
Adding the training to the Code of Conduct was nodded through the chamber without a formal vote in November.
Labour leader in the Lords Baroness Smith of Basildon said at the time the training will be ‘worthwhile’.
She added: ‘I think the approach of asking everyone to do it is a fair one, which is respectful of the staff of this House.’
The House of Lords website admits that the pandemic has caused ‘disruption’, ‘restricted the number of courses available’ and ‘led to the cancellation of some pre-booked courses’
During the debate cross-bencher Lord Mance, chair of the Lords Conduct Committee, denied the training was unnecessary.
The peer, a former deputy president of the Supreme Court, said: ‘There is unfortunately, even in this House, a clear problem.
‘People do behave sometimes in ways which one may not conceive of oneself.
‘A lack of consciousness of a problem is real issue and it is the sort of issue the training is designed to address.’
But Conservative former MP Lord Cormack was among those voicing reservations, saying it ‘is a very sad day’ to be told he has ‘to be trained how to behave’.
The peer – who has now completed the training – said: ‘I think that’s extremely unfortunate and I believe it’s unnecessary.
‘Of course if the House passes this resolution I will be obedient, just as at the moment I am being obedient to the edicts of a benign police state which I now live in.
‘But I do regret and deplore it.’
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