House of Lords is treating peers like ‘recalcitrant schoolboys’ after banning pair from bars
The House of Lords has been accused of treating peers like ‘recalcitrant schoolboys’ after banning two octogenarians from Parliament’s bars and restaurants for failing to attend a sexual harassment workshop.
Friends of Lord Kalms, 89, and Lord Willoughby de Broke, 82, branded the punishment ‘ridiculous’ following the fallout over the mandatory ‘Valuing Everyone’ classes.
The pair – along with Lord James – were threatened with the exclusion earlier this month and the authorities have now acted.
The ‘Valuing Everyone’ two-hour session is run by a controversial consultancy firm that uses giant blue puppets in some of its courses.
Challenge Consultancy has pocketed £885,354 for running the course across the Commons and Lords, a Parliament spokesman said.
Friends of Lord Kalms (right), 89, and Lord Willoughby de Broke (left), 82, branded the punishment ‘ridiculous’ following the fallout over the mandatory ‘Valuing Everyone’ classes
Friends of the two peers told the Times the ban was ‘ridiculous’ with them being treated like schoolboys who ‘can’t go to the tuck shop’ because they have not done their ‘prep’.
Lord Heseltine said: ‘This is the most ridiculous exclusion I could imagine.’
The former Deputy Prime Minister also called the training a ‘shocking waste of taxpayer money’ after completing it to avoid punishment.
Ahead of the vote on the training, Lord Cormack said the ban would be foolish because the library had a ‘number of books on good behaviour’.
After being found in breach of the Lords’ code of conduct, the three peers will be banned from the House’s ‘dining and banqueting facilities’, the Lords Library and meeting rooms which they can usually book.
They will only be able to communicate with Lords staff, including clerks and the Lord Speaker’s office, by email.
The pair – along with Lord James (pictured) – were threatened with the exclusion earlier this month and the authorities have now acted
The sanctions were approved by the Lord Conduct Committee, which is chaired by former Supreme Court judge Lord Mance.
The peers will only get the access back if they agree to the training, which Lord James, 83, who previously advised George Osborne, argued is an infringement on freedom of speech.
Hereditary peer Lord Willoughby said the training was ‘misguided’ and amounted to ‘virtue signalling’.
He told the committee: ‘The idea that we should be trained to value everyone is wholly misguided.
‘However much training I get, I will never value everyone; as an example, I will never be able to value murderous terrorists, however many re-education or self-criticism camps I am required to attend.’
Lord Kalms, who ran electronics retailer Dixons, said: ‘During that period I was at the forefront of female equal rights and pay well ahead of legalisation.’
He questioned the Lords’ powers to ban people on the basis of ‘lack of training’, adding: ‘Does this mean the House could approve other embargoes, for instance no training in nuclear technology or not being able to read a balance sheet?’
‘Valuing Everyone’, which is voluntary for MPs, was made compulsory in the Lords last year.
Tory MP Tom Hunt has previously said that peers should not be forced to do the course.
Another MP criticised the training as ‘woke consultancies trying to milk the public sector’.
It comes after The Mail on Sunday revealed Betty Boothroyd (pictured in March 2016) was one of 60 peers investigated for not completing the course
In April the House of Commons spokesman said the total spend from Parliament on Challenge Consultancy to date was £885,354, which primarily covers ‘Valuing Everyone’ training.
Lords authorities insisted the training is ‘informed by real examples of inappropriate behaviour by members that had previously typically gone unchallenged’.
It comes after The Mail on Sunday revealed Betty Boothroyd, who made history as the first and only female Commons Speaker, was one of 60 peers investigated for not completing the course.
A row erupted over the decision to open the formal probe into Baroness Boothroyd, despite knowing that she had been recovering from open-heart surgery.
After the public outcry, Lady Boothroyd was finally cleared of breaching the code due to exceptional circumstances.