Labour’s Lords chief whip to stand down in 2018 amid questions over expenses
Lord Bassam said he had not breached parliamentary rules but could have dealt with his expenses in a “more appropriate” way.
Labour’s chief whip in the House of Lords will stand down in the New Year after questions were raised about his expenses claims.
Lord Bassam had already offered to repay expenses claimed for travelling between London and his home in Brighton, although he said he had not breached parliamentary rules but could have dealt with the issue in a “more appropriate” way.
He has now told Labour peers he plans to stand down in early 2018 once they have elected a replacement, a Labour Lords spokesman said.
The Mail on Sunday reported that as chief whip and because his main home is not in London, he is one of a small number of Lords frontbenchers entitled to a Lords office holders’ allowance – currently £36,366 a year.
The payment – paid as part of his salary – is to cover peers’ “expenses in staying overnight away from their main or only residence”.
However the paper said that rather than using it to cover the costs of a second home in London or hotel bills, Lord Bassam simply made the hour-long train journey between Brighton and the capital.
At the same time the paper said he also claimed about £6,400 a year in expenses for train tickets and cab fares.
In a statement on Sunday, Lord Bassam said: “With my home outside of London, I have been in receipt of the relevant office holders’ allowance for the opposition chief whip in the Lords.
“At the same time, in accordance with rules laid down by the House, I have claimed costs for my regular travel to and from Parliament.
“While I have not been advised that any breach of the rules has taken place, waiving the right to such travel claims would perhaps have been a more appropriate response on my part.
“I will not be submitting any further claims in this way, and instead use the office holders’ allowance to cover those additional costs.
“I will also discuss with House officials the steps necessary to repay previous travel claims.”