Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Lords vote on expenses claim peers

Lord Bhatia faces a lengthy suspension after a sleaze watchdog found he had wrongly claimed tens of thousands of pounds in expenses
Peers will be asked to approve the damning judgment of a House of Lords Privileges and Conduct Committee report involves Lord Paul
Lady Uddin could be suspended and made to pay back 125,349.10 pounds

The House of Lords will vote on whether to impose the toughest sanctions on misbehaving members for more than 300 years.

Baroness Uddin, Lord Bhatia and Lord Paul are facing lengthy suspensions after a sleaze watchdog found they had wrongly claimed tens of thousands of pounds in expenses.

Peers will be asked to approve the damning judgment of a House of Lords Privileges and Conduct Committee report, which on Monday said the trio should repay nearly £200,000 between them.

Labour peer Lady Uddin and crossbencher Lord Bhatia were found to have acted "not in good faith" by incorrectly declaring their main homes in order to claim generous overnight allowances.

The committee recommended Lady Uddin be suspended from the upper chamber until the end of the parliamentary session in Easter 2012, as well as returning £125,349.10.

Lord Bhatia faces being sidelined for eight months, and has already repaid more than £27,000.

An initial investigation decided that Lord Paul, another Labour peer, had also acted "not in good faith" in his home designations.

However, the committee rejected this finding on appeal, accepting that although "utterly unreasonable" and "negligent", he had not been "dishonest" and had already returned £41,982 last year. It recommended he be suspended for four months.

The sanctions are significantly heavier than those meted out to Labour members Lord Truscott and Lord Taylor of Blackburn after a political lobbying scandal last year.

The pair were the first to be suspended from the upper house since the 17th century.

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