UK Politics

Lords Speaker Lady D'Souza 'spent thousands on keeping cars waiting'

Baroness D'Souza Image copyright PA

The House of Lords Speaker ran up a £230 bill for keeping a chauffeur-driven car waiting while she watched an opera a mile from Parliament.

Baroness D'Souza also spent £270 holding a car for four and a half hours while she had lunch with the Japanese ambassador in central London.

The details were released after an FOI request by the Press Association.

The Lords said she usually drove herself to events but sometimes needed a car on call for security reasons.

The newly released figures also show the peer spent tens of thousands of pounds on travel, flying business class, staying in hotels costing up to £300 a night, and ordering £123 of room service for a "breakfast meeting".

The former university lecturer, who earns a salary of more than £100,000, was made a life peer in 2004 by Tony Blair and sits in the Lords as a non-party crossbencher.

The Lords Speaker's expenses have been published - with individual receipts - after a Press Association request under Freedom of Information laws.

Earlier this year a similar disclosure revealed her Commons counterpart, John Bercow, ran up a £172 bill for attending a conference less than a mile from parliament.

Among the details released are:

  • Lady D'Souza hired a chauffeur-driven Mercedes E class to get to the Royal Opera House - just a mile from parliament - in 2013 to watch Benjamin Britten's Gloriana with the chairman of the Federation Council of Russia. She was returned to the Lords four hours later at a cost of £230.40
  • She used a Mercedes to get from Westminster to Canterbury for the enthronement of Archbishop Justin Welby in March 2013 cost £627 - with John Bercow making the same journey in a separate car for £525
  • In June 2012, a Mercedes S-class took Lady D'Souza and Black Rod David Leakey to a Garter ceremony at Windsor Castle, waiting 10 hours before returning at a cost of £738
  • A 10-day official trip to Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan in the Autumn of last year left a bill of nearly £26,000
  • Lady D'Souza, accompanied by three officials, flew BA business class to Tokyo and back from Hong Kong at a cost of £3,281. Her "executive deluxe" room at the five-star Le Meridien Taipei was £248

A House of Lords spokesman told the Press Association: "The Lord Speaker usually drives herself to events she attends as a representative of the House of Lords.

"However, at events she has attended at high-profile venues including those that you have highlighted, the security requirements of the hosts often require that she is brought in a car which must also wait for her departure.

"The hosts often do not permit a separate car to be sent to collect guests for security reasons. The Lord Speaker's Office always explores the possibility of booking separate cars in order to ensure best value for money.

"Part of the Lord Speaker's role is to represent the House at international conferences and foreign Parliaments. Significant efforts are made to ensure travel is booked in the most cost-effective way possible.

"As part of international visits modest gifts are sometimes exchanged. Gifts given by the Lord Speaker are almost always sourced from the House of Lords gift shop."

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