Three peers face being banned from using House of Lords bars and restaurants after refusing to take a controversial sexual harassment course.
Former Tory party treasurer Lord Kalms, Lord James and Lord Willoughby will lose access to Lords’ facilities, and will be only allowed to communicate with staff by email, after refusing to take part in ‘Valuing Everyone’ training.
It comes after The Mail on Sunday revealed that 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.
Three peers, including Lord James (pictured), face being banned from using House of Lords bars and restaurants after refusing to take a controversial sexual harassment course
After the public outcry, Lady Boothroyd was finally cleared of breaching the code due to exceptional circumstances.
Former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Heseltine called the training a ‘shocking waste of taxpayer money’ after completing it to avoid punishment.
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.
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.
Lord Kalms (right), Lord James and Lord Willoughby (left) will only be allowed to communicate with staff by email, after refusing to take part in ‘Valuing Everyone’ training
The sanctions were approved by the Lord Conduct Committee, which is chaired by former Supreme Court judge Lord Mance.
They will this month be debated in the Lords, which is expected to rubber stamp them.
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, 82, 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 Stanley Kalms, 89, who ran electronics retailer Dixons, said: ‘During that period I was at the forefront of female equal rights and pay well ahead of legalisation.’
It comes after The Mail on Sunday revealed that Betty Boothroyd (pictured in March 2016) was one of 60 peers investigated for not completing the course
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.
Conservative 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’.
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’.