Lords votes to ban 'cash-for-amendments' peers

Two Labour peers caught up in the "cash for amendments" affair tonight became the first members of the upper chamber to be suspended in more than 350 years.

Voting was unanimous to bar Lord Truscott and Lord Taylor of Blackburn until the end of the Parliamentary session.

The pair were found guilty of breaching the Lords' code of conduct which requires members to "always act on their personal honour".

They were found to have offered to try to change the law in return for money.

Suspending a peer is a process so rarely used that the Committee sought legal advice about whether it was actually possible.

The last member of the upper house to be suspended was Viscount Savile, who was barred in 1642 for siding with King Charles I.

The move follows the resignation yesterday of Commons Speaker Michael Martin - the first case of a Speaker being forced out since 1695.

Attorney General Baroness Scotland tonight warned peers of the "constitutional enormity" of the move.

She added: "It is open for this House to do so, but this House has to consider whether these changed times entitles the House, obliges the House, to act differently".

Lord Truscott and Lord Taylor of Blackburn were found guilty of breaching the Upper House's rules by the Committee For Privileges.

Chairman of Committees Lord Brabazon of Tara, presenting the findings, said: "This episode has done serious damage to the reputation of the House.

"We all have responsibility individually and collectively to uphold that reputation.

"That is why personal honour remains the cornerstone of the House's code of conduct.

"Lord Truscott and Lord Taylor of Blackburn have not, we believe, acted on their personal honour."

He also defended the Committee's recommendation that the pair should be suspended, saying it was was necessary "to get our House in order".

The controversy was triggered by a Sunday Times investigation which claimed four Labour peers had told undercover journalists that they were willing to amend a Bill in return for money.

The other peers implicated in the affair, Lord Moonie and Lord Snape, were cleared of wrongdoing but ordered to apologise to the Lords.

Only Lord Snape was in the Lords to listen to the Committee's findings being debated.

Lords Leader Baroness Royall of Blaisdon said it was important for peers to agree the suspensions to uphold the "integrity" of Parliament.

Also highlighting the expenses scandal in the Commons, she told peers: "Politicians have plunged Parliament to the low in which we find ourselves."

She added: "We have not as politicians been doing our jobs in the way that people would want us to, with honesty, integrity and with honour."

Lady Royall told peers: "I believe that during the course of this inquiry... members of this House felt damaged and diminished by the conduct of members of this House," she said.

"I have had members of this House come to me and tell me what this time has meant - being shouted at in the street, their spouses reluctant to go to their local community for fear of what people will say."

Tory peers' leader Lord Strathclyde said: "The public expects this House will act with firmness and unity to show its abhorrence of wrongdoing and any propensity to it."

Lord McNally, for Liberal Democrats, said: "I still believe that those who serve both in the Lords and Commons are in the main motivated by a commitment to worthy ideas and ideals and that our public life is still relatively free from corruption, but protecting that honour requires eternal vigilance and where necessary, firm action."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas