A scandal awaiting Nick Clegg’s attention
Nick Clegg has indicated that there could be legislation soon to effect “minor, technical housekeeping changes which might be deemed necessary in the House of Lords, kicking out crooks or people who don’t attend…”
Potentially, that is bad news for the former Tory leader of Essex County Council, Lord Hanningfield, who served eight weeks of a nine month jail sentence in 2011 for fiddling his House of Lords expenses. Since then, he has not spoken in the Lords, nor asked a written or oral question, but he turns up most days when the House of Lords is sitting, and collects the £300 a day attendance allowance to which the rules say he is entitled. In January, he pocketed £4,800, plus £425 travel costs, according to the latest entry on the House of Lords register. We now know that in his first nine months since his return from disgrace, he collected £29,400 in allowances altogether, just for being there. That equates to an annual salary of £39,200.
The other ex-Tory peer who was jailed for fiddling expenses is Lord Taylor of Warwick. He has been a little bit more active than Hanningfield – asking written questions, though never speaking – and slightly less assiduous in pocketing allowances. His claims to January totalled £18,900, equivalent to an annual salary of £28,350.
These people should never have been allowed back into the House of Lords. Their old colleagues did not want but no power exists to prevent them. And even Nick Clegg’s promised reform will not make any difference unless it is made retrospective. I wonder if he has the steel to do it.
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