Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

I’m entitled to fuel payout too, says Lord Laird

A Northern Ireland peer who made headlines for his expenses claims has defended his entitlement to receive a winter fuel payment.

Ulster Unionist Lord Laird has said it is his right as a pensioner to receive the money.

It comes amid growing calls for the payment to be means-tested to ensure that those in greatest need receive the funds.

As it stands, every British citizen over 60 years of age, regardless of wealth, qualifies to receive the payment, varying between £125 and £400.

But a number of high-profile names, including Peter Stringfellow, Terry Wogan and Joan Bakewell, have either attempted to return their payment or have passed it on to charity.

Lord Laird founded John Laird Public Relations in 1976 and is still a shareholder in the company. Although he is not paid a salary in the House of Lords, Lord Laird claimed Parliamentary expenses of £73,000 in 2008/09, making him the most expensive peer in the House of Lords that year.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, he said: “I am against means-testing and I think those of us who are over 65, as I am, are entitled, particularly in this cold weather, to get a payment.

“I am just like everyone else, I am an OAP. We don’t get paid in the Lords. We all have to look after ourselves — why should I deprive my family?”

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