The press announcement is here.
It highlights the key functions of the Taskforce as being:
- Review the current arrangements for securing standards of integrity and accountability, and recommend improvements
- Consider the impact of lobbying and advise on the most effective means of policing and preventing undue influence and ending paid advocacy
- Consider further the most appropriate sanctions for breaches of the Code of Conduct in the House of Lords, and how best to enforce them
The statement continues by quoting David Cameron as saying "Today, it's not possible to suspend a member of the House of Lords no matter how badly he or she behaves, it's not possible to expel them from that legislature and yet they're making the laws that all of us have to obey."
And he added, "This is completely wrong, it needs to change and we will change it. We will make sure that members of the House of Lords, if they behave wrongly, can be suspended or expelled."
This, in my opinion is a positive announcement. I think it will show that David Cameron is serious about cleaning up politics and his party. He has already had to take action in the declaration of expenses on MP's and MEP's and ordered his Whip to bulldoze a deal that was thrashed out with the Labour Leadership over exempting the publication of MPs expenses from the FOI act.
This is also a strategically important announcement, as it means that the Conservative will be viewed as acting on a matter of public concern, where the Government is largely expected to issue nothing more than a slap on the wrist to those four peers who have been exposed. It also gives the impression that the Conservative Peers have nothing to hide from such an investigation.