'Half of Lords' clock in to claim expenses

 

Lord Hanningfield: "This is a storm in a tea cup"

Half the members of the House of Lords clock in and out of Parliament for a few minutes a day in order to claim a £300 daily attendance allowance, a former Conservative peer has said.

Lord Hanningfield made the claim when challenged to explain his own attendance record.

The Daily Mirror alleges on 11 of 19 occasions he attended the Lords in July he spent less than 40 minutes there.

There is no suggestion the peer broke any rules.

Members of the House of Lords are not paid a salary but can claim a daily allowance of £300 if they attend a sitting.

'Preparing myself'

Lord Hanningfield, a former leader of Essex County Council, claimed £5,700 in total for his 19 days of attendance during July and the Mirror reports his shortest attendance that month was 21 minutes.

Start Quote

I have to admit it is not a very good system”

End Quote Lord Steel Lib Dem peer on attendance allowances in the Lords

During July, Lord Hanningfield did not speak in any debates or attend any committee hearings.

When confronted by the Mirror about the claims, Lord Hanningfield said "at least half" the members of the Lords checked in to claim expenses.

He said he spent half of the £300 daily fee on expenses and so did not really make any profit. He was a full-time peer who needed the money to pay his electricity bills and buy food, he said.

Since October Lord Hanningfield has spoken twice and submitted four written questions.

He told BBC Essex's Tom Barton: "Doing work in the Lords is not just working in the chamber, unless you are going to speak.

New peers being sworn in Efforts were stepped up in 2011 to encourage peers no longer attending the Lords to step down voluntarily

"During July I was preparing myself for what I'm doing now and during this term I've been speaking and asking questions. I'm really back to an active life in politics and I don't appreciate the Mirror following me around in July."

The Conservative Leader of the House of Lords, Lord Hill, said in a statement on Lord Hanningfield's comments that he was "dismayed about the behaviour and dismayed about the shadow it casts over the whole House".

He said steps were "already in train" to deal with peers "whose behaviour falls below the standards we rightly expect".

In the New Year, members of the Lords would be asked to approve proposals to stop allowances to peers who breached the code of conduct, he added.

The BBC understands that the Labour leader in the Lords, Baroness Royall, wants to amend the code of conduct for peers to take action against those who bring the House of Lords into disrepute.

She is also suggesting the rules should be amended so that peers claiming the attendance allowance would have to be in Parliament for a minimum of four hours.

Liberal Democrat Lord Steel, who himself put forward proposals earlier this year to force peers who do not attend regularly to retire, said the current system of allowances was a "bit daft".

He told Radio 4's The World at One peers should have to swipe in and out of Parliament to show how much time they had spent in the building - as this would "stop the sort of thing of which Lord Hanningfield is accused".

"The attendance allowance is supposed to represent work in Parliament," he said.

"I have to admit it is not a very good system... Sometimes it works the other way around. Last Tuesday I was in from about 10am to 10pm but because I did not go into the chamber - I was in six different meetings and by the time I went down to the chamber the House had risen - I got nothing for that day."

'Traumatised'

There are currently 779 "eligible" members of the House of Lords. More than 40 other peers have taken a "leave of absence" for health or professional reasons, meaning they cannot attend.

A voluntary retirement scheme was introduced in 2011 but so far only three peers have chosen to use it.

The main chamber of the House of Lords There are currently nearly 780 eligible members of the House of Lords

In 2011, Lord Hanningfield served nine weeks of a nine-month sentence for parliamentary expenses fraud totalling nearly £14,000.

During his trial, a court was told he had submitted false claims for hotel bills including one when he was actually on board a flight to India at the time, and that he had fraudulently claimed for train fares and car mileage.

But Lord Hanningfield, who entered the Lords in 1998, told BBC Essex he had "drawn the short straw" during the expenses scandal and that "most" MPs and peers had been allowed "to pay the money back without any problem".

He added: "I got treated rather badly, I think. I didn't do anything more than anyone else and most peers know that."

Lord Hanningfield, who had the Conservative whip withdrawn in 2010, said he might "hopefully" return to the party one day, adding: "I still do a lot of work and I still tend to support the coalition government's politics.

"The effects of the last four years traumatised me. I had virtually a nervous breakdown."

He added: "I don't think I should have been convicted... I think it was a travesty of justice."

 

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  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1065.

    ...shouldn't someone should give them an 11% pay rise, whether they want it or not.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 1064.

    Much easier when we had wealthy hereditary peers. They sat in the Lords for the benefit of the nation and not their income or status. Odd how systems that we had in place worked well for hundreds of years have become undone by the hand of modernity.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 1063.

    I'm surprised it's only half..

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 1062.

    D'you suppose they made it illegal to protest in Parliament Square because they knew us Plebs would want to express our extreme dischuffness very directly to their workplace?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1061.

    We need:

    directly-elected MPs (first past the post) to draft legislation in the lower chamber,

    directly-elected MPs (by PR) in the upper chamber to scrutinise the legislation and performance of the executive,

    and an ACTIVE directly-elected head of state to run the executive in accordance with the laws passed by the two chambers.

    The current system is just not fit for purpose.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 1060.

    #28 "This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules"

    That's what this story is all about surely?

  • rate this
    +95

    Comment number 1059.

    Popping in for half an hour to get your £300 attendance fee, is disgraceful. Anyone who thinks it's fine to do that, or thinks the outraged public are merely 'jealous' need to get their heads seen to!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1058.

    1048.MrArsenalToYouLotDealWithIt
    I think not and such things demonstrate why its also required to close down this antiquated establishment,
    ---
    the question always is the, to replace it with what or if at all?


    re neg rating 1038/1000
    I await your answers to 1000's moral question, until you answer the moral question how can you morally think to judge & advise another on moral judgements

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 1057.

    The system is completely wrong. If you clocked in at work for less than 40 minutes work a day then you wouldn't get paid your whole salary and would probably be sacked. Lord Hanningfield should not be paid out of the public purse at all having committed fraud on such a large scale. A civil servant wouldn't. Peers should be paid for hours they do in the lords not £300 a day just for turning up.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 1056.

    Surely this makes a good case for a purely hereditary House of Lords.
    Throw out all these snivelling political weasels, only there through brown nosing.
    Just keep the good old chaps with a thousand years of history, tradition and collective family experience behind them.
    Too rich to be bribed, no need to fiddle, just the best interests of our country at heart.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 1055.

    All these lords and mps should be jailed indefinitely for crimes against humanity. If theres not enough space in UK jails send them to syria

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 1054.

    Some people do not earn £300-00 per week let alone a for a part time job like the Lords have. Lord Hanningfield only lives an hour from parliament and if he is there long enough gets subsidised meals so why does he have £150-00 a day expenses. Still it gets him out of the house for a few hours a day, and a chance for a sleep for half an hour.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 1053.

    1019 Manya

    I do think the time for rants is over and we need to push to have these draconian rules changed.

    Maybe in the distant past Lord's were allowed to get away with a lot more hence the hereditary immunity's where they can say regardless of moral objectives, "It's all within the rules".

    Well nowadays we are not here to serve our Lord's, they are here to serve us so we must push for change

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1052.

    Right on queue another "scandle" for the public to get outraged about. It's almost as if there is another issue they wan't us to forget about **cough** 11% pay increase **cough cough**

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 1051.

    With these House of Lords revelations then perhaps folk will begin to understand why the young protestors now wear Guy Fawkes masks. There were Guy Fawkes masks all around St Paul's, outside the Stock Exchange, during Occupy London. Even men in suits were wearing Guy Fawkes masks and much to the discomfort of the scurrying stock brokers and hypocritical clergy.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 1050.

    all these fiddles were stopped in business years ago, then businesses started to trust employees, this shows how many light years behind business these guys are!

  • Comment number 1049.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 1048.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1047.

    There's a simple solution, if it's a daily allowance then don't pay them until they've been there for at least eight hours.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1046.

    on another point I hope hmrc are investigating the grillo girls and their employers after all , expences not incurred as 100pct work related are considered as taxable and incur ni contributions and 680 k comes to a lot of tax and ni ... do handbags and holidays count as work related therby allowable oh I do hope so ..............

 

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