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Suspend rogue peers right away, says senior Labour peer

By Tim Sculthorpe

Published 01/08/2015

Lord John Sewel
Lord John Sewel

Rogue peers should be subject to immediate suspension when scandals break, a senior Labour peer has said.

Lord Soley, a former chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party, made the call in a letter to Lord Speaker Baroness D'Souza in the wake of the allegations against Lord Sewel.

The former Labour minister resigned from the House of Lords after days of claims he took drugs and film emerged of his conversations with two sex workers

However, not before the Prime Minister led calls for him to go and his party membership was suspended.

The fierce row has prompted calls for wholesale reform of the unelected chamber of Parliament.

Lord Soley said the House had to be able to answer the question of why it could not suspend a peer immediately.

He told the Speaker: "It is my belief that the damage done to the reputation of the House is magnified by any delay in taking action.

"Delay ensures the story will run continuously in the media.

"I know you acted quickly in making a statement about Lord Sewel but I think we need to establish a method for imposing a quick suspension of a member.

"This is important for the member as well as the House.

"The damage done to the reputation of the Lords could have been less if we had been able to suspend Lord Sewel as soon as the story broke.

"That change can and should be made. It is what any other organisation would have done."

Lord Soley added: "We should also bring in a more general rule of 'bringing the House into disrepute'. This has been considered and rejected in the past.

"I think we should now review that decision."

Lord Soley's letter was copied to the Leader of the House, Baroness Stowell, the leader of the opposition, Baroness Smith, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Lord Wallace, and the leader of the crossbenchers, Lord Laming.

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