In the Media

Peers jailed over expenses can return to Lords next spring

PUBLISHED November 4, 2011

Decision on Lord Taylor of Warwick and Lord Hanningfield, say reformers, highlights need for same disqualification rules as MPs Two Tory peers jailed for abusing their parliamentary expenses will be free to return to the House of Lords next spring, prompting criticism from reformers. Lord Taylor of Warwick and Lord Hanningfield were freed in September after serving a quarter of their terms. The House of Lords privileges and conduct committee has recommended that Taylor should be suspended from the house until next May and Hanningfield until April. Lord Oakeshott, the Liberal Democrat peer who has campaigned for reform of the second chamber, said: "This farce re-emphasises the need to be able to disqualify permanently those people who are convicted of a serious offence. The Lords reform bill says that peers convicted of criminal offences must be disqualified just like MPs. It would be unthinkable to have a peer to be able to vote on laws while serving a prison sentence." Taylor, 58, was jailed for 12 months in May for fraudulently claiming over ?11,000, which he has repaid. However, an investigation by the independent Lords commissioner for standards found that he wrongly claimed ?24,311.70 in total. He has since been asked to repay the remaining sum. He told the Lords expenses officethat his main residence was a house in Oxford, when he really lived in west London. When he passed sentence, Mr Justice Saunders said Lord Taylor had thrown away his many positive achievements in public life "not by one stupid action but by a protracted course of dishonesty". At the time Taylor said he was "full of remorse" but would use what had happened to help others in the future. He said: "I regret that my actions have brought the house into disrepute and for that I apologise." In a report, David Beamish, the clerk of the parliaments, notes that Taylor has not yet repaid ?13,033.90 owed to the House authorities. He wrote to Taylor on 14 September to ask him to confirm 'no later than 3 October 2011' his willingness to repay that sum. "I have yet to receive a reply," he notes. Hanningfield, 70, received a nine-month sentence in July after falsely claiming ?13,379 in parliamentary expenses for overnight stays in London when he was not in the capital, including one occasion when he was on board a flight to India. The commissioner's inquiry found he wrongly claimed ?30,254.50. So far, he has repaid ?1,800 but told the conduct committee he planned to repay the full amount and would not return to the house until he had done so. House of Lords MPs' expenses Lords reform Crime Rajeev Syal © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds