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Ian Paisley in Fawlty Towers jibe at minister

By Richard Wheeler

A Cabinet minister has been compared to Manuel from Fawlty Towers over his handling of calls to investigate expenses allegations made about a peer.

MPs pressed David Lidington over the need to examine former Lord Speaker Baroness D'Souza's claims that a peer kept a taxi running outside Parliament while signing in to collect the £300 daily allowance.

The DUP's Ian Paisley said Lady D'Souza should be asked to name the peer, who appeared to treat the Lords as if it was a "smash-and-grab cash machine".

Commons Leader Mr Lidington said he knew no details beyond media reports, adding if there is evidence an investigation should be launched.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Paisley compared Mr Lidington to hapless fictional waiter Manuel, played by Andrew Sachs in the BBC sitcom.

The North Antrim MP said: "The revelations by the former Lord Speaker of the peer and the taxi is something which calls the House into complete and total disrepute.

"Basically, a peer allegedly acting as if this place is a smash-and-grab cash machine.

"For (Mr Lidington) to shrug that off and say he knows nothing about the horse, like Manuel, is not good enough."

Mr Lidington replied: "My view is that where there is evidence - and at the moment we have reports of allegations without people being named - that there has been malpractice, that should be investigated, and if the evidence is proven then appropriate disciplinary action should be taken."

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