Bil­lion­aire peer in storm over ex­penses

Lord claimed thou­sands of pounds de­spite con­tribut­ing noth­ing in House

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS - by TOM HER­BERT tom.her­bert@trin­i­tymir­ror.com Twit­ter: @TRHer­bert

ACROSSBENCH peer from Bea­cons­field claimed thou­sands in ex­penses de­spite mak­ing no spo­ken con­tri­bu­tions in the House of Lords.

Bil­lion­aire steel mag­nate Lord Paul, whose fam­ily home is The Grange, a 250-acre es­tate off the A355 Amer­sham Road, Bea­cons­field, claimed £40,800 for 136 days last year and voted four times.

Lord Paul, who is re­port­edly worth an es­ti­mated £2bil­lion, told the Sun­day Times his claims were “more than rep­re­sen­ta­tive” of his work.

An in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the news­pa­per re­vealed that some peers are claim­ing thou­sands in at­ten­dance fees but make lit­tle con­tri­bu­tion to de­bates, re­fu­elling a call for Lords re­form.

Peers get no salary but can claim £300 a day for be­ing in the cham­ber or at a com­mit­tee hear­ing.

They are not re­quired to speak in de­bates or vote in or­der to claim the money.

There is no sug­ges­tion the peers broke any rules or the law in th­ese lat­est claims.

For­mer Lords Speaker Baroness D’Souza re­vealed last month that a Lords in­ves­ti­ga­tion into “money-grab­bing” peers was dropped to pro­tect them from a me­dia storm.

Baroness D’Souza also said she ditched the probe be­cause she didn’t want to “name and shame” col­leagues and feared neg­a­tive press cov­er­age.

Katie Ghose, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Elec­toral Re­form So­ci­ety, told The Mir­ror: “It’s com­pletely un­ac­cept­able that peers can claim thou­sands with­out even speak­ing or vot­ing in the House, and it highlights the re­al­ity that there is no ac­count­abil­ity for peers – the pub­lic can’t kick them out if they fail to serve the in­ter­ests of cit­i­zens.

“Whilst many peers work hard and claim ac­cord­ingly, we know that oth­ers claim their £300 but make min­i­mal or no con­tri­bu­tion.

“The gov­ern­ment can no longer ig­nore this fla­grant waste of pub­lic funds.

“Rather than spend­ing thou­sands on peers who fail to even speak up in Par­lia­ment, we need a fairly-elected up­per House.

“This is yet more ev­i­dence that we need root and branch re­form – tin­ker­ing just doesn’t cut it.”

A House of Lords spokesman said: “Mem­bers are not paid a salary and can only claim at­ten­dance al­lowance for days they at­tend the house and un­der­take par­lia­men­tary work.

“Apart from travel costs, at­ten­dance al­lowance is the only fi­nan­cial sup­port avail­able to mem­bers from which they must cover any ex­penses as­so­ci­ated with their work in par­lia­ment, in­clud­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion and any staff they em­ploy.

“All mem­bers have to cer­tify that they have un­der­taken par­lia­men­tary work on the day in ques­tion when claim­ing.

“Where mem­bers are shown to have claimed when they have not un­der­taken par­lia­men­tary work the House has the power to sus­pend or ex­pel them.”

Lord Paul took to Twit­ter on Mon­day to ex­press his views on ex­penses and shared a post from Tele­graph colum­nist Charles Moore which stated: “The al­lowances set no such con­di­tions of ‘work’: it is sim­ply for at­tend­ing, so no one is nec­es­sar­ily cheat­ing.

“More im­por­tantly, has any­one tried to imag­ine how ap­palling the Lords would be if every­one present did speak?”

Lord Paul also tweeted urg­ing peo­ple not to “down­grade Bri­tish Par­lia­ment”.

It’s com­pletely un­ac­cept­able that peers can claim thou­sands with­out even speak­ing or vot­ing in the House

Lord Paul

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