David Laws peerage “blocked” – plus new Liberal Democrat House of Lords members speculation

David Laws speaking at Lib Dem Spring conference, Liverpool 2008

The Times (£) reports that former Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, has nominated former Yeovil MP, David Laws, for elevation to the House of Lords. However, it adds:

His nomination for a peerage was blocked by the House of Lords Appointments Commission, chaired by an independent peer, Lord Kakkar.

The Times says that this comes “after his involvement in the expenses scandal” without specifically nailing the expenses saga as the reason for the blocking. However, the Mail goes further saying:

The seven-strong commission, chaired by the Independent peer Lord Kakkar, a distinguished hospital surgeon, blocked the honour because of his expenses.

For background on the expenses history related to David Laws, please read this summary of the inquiry verdict here on Liberal Democrat Voice in May 2011. David Laws said at that time:

I accept the conclusions of the Inquiry and take full responsibility for the mistakes which I have made. I apologise to my constituents and to Parliament. Each of us should be our own sternest critic, and I recognise that my attempts to keep my personal life private were in conflict with my duty as an MP to ensure that my claims were in every sense above reproach. I should have resolved this dilemma in the public interest and not in the interests of my privacy.

However, from the moment these matters became public, I have made clear that my motivation was to protect my privacy, rather than to benefit from the system of parliamentary expenses, and I am pleased that the Commissioner has upheld that view.

I have also, from the very beginning, made clear that I believed that my secrecy about my private life led me to make lower overall claims than would otherwise be the case, and this has been confirmed by the Parliamentary Commissioner and by the Committee. The taxpayer gained, rather than lost out, from my desire for secrecy, though I fully accept that this is not an adequate reason for breaking the rules.

This last year has been a difficult one, and I am grateful to family, friends, constituents and colleagues for their support and understanding.

The Times also reports in the same story (£) that David Laws “had been in line to become one of 11 (new) Liberal Democrat peers” to be announced shortly by David Cameron. One assumes that number is now ten, which will still, interestingly, outnumber our MPs in the House of Commons and possibly be the same number or more than the amount of new Labour peers to be announced at the same time. The logic appears to be that these Liberal Democrats are being rewarded for long public service including (perhaps especially) in government.

It is perhaps fun to speculate as to who the ten will be. Simon Hughes has been knighted and recently ruled himself out. Danny Alexander has rejected the idea of a peerage. Vince Cable has said he doesn’t want one apparently, but that was in the same report that said David Laws didn’t want one either. Norman Baker has also ruled out an elevation. I very much doubt that Nick Clegg would create the need for a by-election in Sheffeld Hallam by accepting a peerage. It’s not going to happen in my view, but I’ll prepare my Whitehall/streaking plan just in case.

So here’s my personal, speculative, list of the possible new ten Liberal Democrat peers, as a bit of Saturday night knockabout fun – feel free to correct me in the comments below and I’ll update the list based on feedback:

Sir Menzies Campbell
Sir Alan Beith
Sir Malcolm Bruce
Vince Cable
Lynne Featherstone
Don Foster
Sir Nick Harvey
Lorely Burt
David Heath
Sir Andrew Stunell
Sharon Bowles
Steve Webb

In making the list of ten I didn’t include these former MPs:

Sarah Teather
Annette Brooke
John Thurso
Jeremy Browne
Paul Burstow
Lorely Burt
David Heath (Update:swopped with Lorely Burt)
Steve Webb (Update: swopped with Sharon Bowles)
John Hemming
Stephen Lloyd
Michael Moore
Sir Robert Smith
Bob Russell
Adrian Sanders
…and other spring chickens like Ed Davey and Jenny Willott who I doubt want to take themselves out of the possibility of a return to the Commons – but, again, I have my Whitehall streak plan ready.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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  • John Tracey 15th Aug '15 - 6:15pm

    I think Lynne (IMO, the best Lib Dem Minister) and Lorely Burt will be on the list as they are on the ‘Frontbench’ Team Tim has announced. Perhaps I thought too much into that.

    Of your list, 9 are men and one is a woman. Surely that is not acceptable?

  • I think Lorely and Lynne are a lock due to their new roles.

    I’d also like to see candidates from the Leadership Programme – fresh voices and superb role models for growing a more diverse party.

  • Looking down that list unbelievable how much expertise and experience was lost from the Commons after May 2015. Quite shocking really.

  • Richard Underhill 15th Aug '15 - 6:57pm

    i hope Stephen Lloyd can be re-elected as an MP.

  • Is it time we took a stand and did not nominate people for this outdated unelected instutution which even includes Bishops of the Church of England. In this day and age what about Catholics and otjher religions..

  • If this is true, is there no limit to the self inflicted damage to our party ?

    If we are to get ten new peers when we already have over a hundred – and at a time when we have only eight m.p..’s – it will make the party a laughing stock and damage any attempt to re-brand ourselves as a radical party. You can almost write the script for ‘The Now Show’ and ‘Have I got News for You’. Gilbert & Sullivan would have great fun with it.

    So far as knighthoods are concerned this is a vanity project and will have the same affect.

    As to Laws one cannot disagree with the supposed findings of the Scrutiny Committee and I never understood why Clegg arranged for his comeback to the Cabinet. I would have more respect if Laws said he would spend the next five years trying to get re-elected to what was at one time a very safe seat.

    Time to move on and put the last five years behind us.

  • Richard Underhill 15th Aug '15 - 7:05pm

    Lord Archer should consider his position, retrospectively.

  • Paul Kennedy 15th Aug '15 - 7:17pm

    Shas Sheehan is the only non-Parliamentarian on Tim’s Parliamentary Campaigns Team http://www.libdems.org.uk/tim_farron_reveals_his_priorities_as_new_liberal_democrat_leader

    Merlene Emerson – for work with Chinese community and EMLD?

    And take a look at some of the SpAds? Julia Goldsworthy – also a former MP?

  • It could be argued that there are already too many peers and also that there are more than enough Liberal Democrat peers, given the share of the vote that the party gained at the 2015 general election. Knighthoods (or DBE for ladies) should be sufficient to acknowledge the political services of the those former Liberal Democrat MPs who had a senior role in the last government and not already so entitled, but have now retired from the House of Commons or were defeated in their quest to be returned as an MP.

    The role of the House of Lords is any case dubious and it is full of people who should have by now retired from public life. I respect those parties (SF/SNP) who refuse to take seats in this outmoded chamber.

  • Eddie Sammon 15th Aug '15 - 7:22pm

    I don’t understand why the party should nominate anyone for the Lords, but if it must be done I would include long standing LDV editors. Although national honours are my preferred form of recognition!

    In general, I do very much like nominating people such as long standing volunteers and councilors for such things. Good to have them in the mix.

  • Why was Laws proposed, Clegg’s political tin ear again?

  • In Canada recently, the Liberal Party has cut its members of their unelected upper house loose from the party. We might consider something similar, having an unaffiliated but allied liberal caucus in the Lords.

  • Mick Taylor 15th Aug '15 - 7:48pm

    Who cares about any of this? Laws played his part in government. That should be reward enough. I thought Vince had turned this down?

  • Surely the Lib Dems should set an example and not nominate reject politicians for the HoL ,they had their chance and were rejected by voters .As suggested some nominations for people from the real world would be refreshing.

  • Richard Underhill 15th Aug '15 - 8:08pm

    Charles Kennedy was right, except about the timing.

  • I would be very, very disappointed to see Steve Webb in the HoL.

    I want to see him back in the Commons in 2020.

    I have a great regard for Laws, but feel the HoL would be inappropriate.

  • Jobs for the boys.

  • paul barker 15th Aug '15 - 9:01pm

    Of course if he had only been after money rather than privacy I expect this commitee would have waved him through.
    The proportion of Libdem Parliamentarians is 8%, in line with our 2015 result. Both Houses are equally legitamate – we know that because thats what The Commons decided.

  • David Blake 15th Aug '15 - 9:53pm

    If someone is thrown out by their constituents, it really looks bad if they then get a place in the Lords.

  • Lib Dem MPs get wiped out in the general election for working shoulder to shoulder in a Tory government foisting austerity on the people and have they no shame taking peerages, suggest that if any accept a peerage in the unelected undemocratic House of Lords then they should sit with their friends on the Tories benches and perhaps they can be now know as the Yellow Tories, Lib Dems its time to wake up.

  • Kevin McNamara 15th Aug '15 - 11:25pm

    Thanks for that entirely constructive input, Will. I’ll ask that Tim looks at it closely. Especially registering a new political party called “yellow Tolries”.

  • I share David Raw’s view that David Laws should seek to regain his Yeovil seat, which of course he may now do. It is more than a bit odd, though, that whereas the relevant House of Commons Committee suspended David from the House of Commons for just 7 days, the House of Lords Appointment Committee should have taken the line that they apparently have. Maybe there is a fuller picture that will unfold.

  • Will, most of the PLP just voted for more austerity, that would make them the Red Tories?

  • There are some obvious women if you look at the ex MEPs, notably Fiona Hall and Sharon Bowles.

  • @ David Blake

    Couldn’t agree more, someone gets trounced by the electorate in May and hey-ho 12 weeks later they are back in the House s of Parliament via the back door. Is it really any wonder people have such a low opinion of politicians.

  • R Uduwerage-Perera 16th Aug '15 - 9:57am

    The list lacks significant gender, and no visible ethnic diversity.

    I am not sure how this is reflecting the diversity that exists in society.

    Ruwan Uduwerages-Perera
    Chair – Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats

  • Richard Underhill 16th Aug '15 - 10:45am

    daodao 15th Aug ’15 – 7:20pm Sinn Fein also decline to take their seats in the House of Commons, although they have taken their seats in the Northern Ireland Assemby. They have the position of Deputy First Minister (a misleading title because he is part of a double act with the First Minister).

  • Richard Underhill 16th Aug '15 - 11:35am

    i support our friends in the APNI

  • Simon Hebditch 16th Aug '15 - 11:37am

    It is all very simple. We should not be nominating any new peers as there is no justification in the current political situation and the House of Lords needs to be abolished and replaced by an elected second chamber.

  • Richard Underhill 16th Aug '15 - 12:01pm

    Jonathan 16th Aug ’15 – 9:43am. Agree.

  • Why has Nick Clegg not put forward Joe Otten? This would be a fitting reward for Joes service as a high profile Councillor and give him a National platform to fight hard for the Lib Dems.

  • Richard Underhill 16th Aug '15 - 4:10pm

    Neil Sandison 16th Aug ’15 – 12:31pm Not all Liberal Democrat MPs wanted to retire from the Commons. Reform of the Lords has been slow and difficult, with more than 100 anniversaries of the Parliament Act. Labour MPs should have supported reform in the previous parliament. The proposals were based on work that Labour ministers had done.
    David Wallace 16th Aug ’15 – 2:57pm It is not only the Lords that needs to reform. The Commons does as well. They are connected by our non-existent constitution.

  • What about Graham Watson?

  • I have checked and rechecked the comments above, and if there’s a single comment in favour of adding Liberal Democrats to the HoL, I’ve missed it.

    If this is the predominant sentiment among the members, why isn’t the Party responsive to it?

  • @ neil sandison To add to your point about £ 300 per day, it may not be generally known that this is tax free.

    Interesting news item on the BBC News website today . To quote :
    “Darren Hughes, deputy chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said the research showed the House of Lords was “growing out of control, with the government set on appointing hundreds more peers at a cost of millions”.

    Nearly 800 peers and growing. Our party ought now to have a self-denying ordinance on this undemocratic institution.

  • suzanne fletcher 16th Aug '15 - 7:56pm

    whilst we still have an unelected second chamber, we need to be int there and doing the valuable work our present peers do. just as we fight elections under FPTP. are members of other local undemocratic organsaitons etc.
    as for names.
    Fiona Hall seems to be forgotten – probably because she got on with the job as our leader in the EU, so didn’t get adverse publicity.
    Andrew Stunell would be a very useful addition indeed.
    not that is solves the BME issue, which is real.

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 16th Aug '15 - 9:10pm

    @ Suzanne,

    Without pre-judging whatever list of names comes to be announced, we’ve done relatively well in terms of BAME Peers thus far.

    Lords Alliance, Dholakia, Hussain, Loomba and Verjee, plus Baronesses Benjamin, Falkner, Hussein-Ece and Manzoor makes nine out of one hundred and one, just shy of the 10% mark by my reckoning. We also have the best gender balance of any of the various groups in the Lords, thirty-five of our Peers being women. Yes, we can do better, and I think that we should, but let’s put that into some sort of perspective.

  • Simon, just because something exists to take part in it when it is broken and wrong adds to its legitimacy sometimes you have to make stand to exert change.

  • Time to abolish the Lords. A farce.

  • Neil Sandison 17th Aug '15 - 10:09am

    Richard Underhill appreciate some MPs had retirement forced upon them by the electorate but would suggest that if they want to continue to give public service and be in public life then they could do no better than to put themselves forward for the district and county elections in 2016 and 2017 also the mayoral and police commissioner elections .There are better choices than the lords. They would of course have to work at it and get elected.

  • Richard Church 17th Aug '15 - 10:36am

    In the next four years and nine months there will be many occasions to be thankful that the party has taken up the opportunity to appoint more people to the House of Lords. Every additional Lib Dem peer is one small check on this right wing government attacking the poor and the powerless, and it’s a government that 63% of those who voted didn’t want.

  • Stephen Hesketh 17th Aug '15 - 11:32am

    I seem to recall that Tony Greaves and others were elected to their lordships rather than being simple appointees.

    If this is a correct recollection, I would like to suggest that the Liberal Democrats return, via OMOV, to us electing our permitted quota.

    This would at least mean those representing our party and movement in the Lords were there by virtue of a democratic process rather than the depth of their pockets or their relationship with the then leader.

  • “I happen to agree with you is you are talking about Police Commissioner elections, but as regards the HoL, the idea that the public would even register our “boycott” is unrealistic.”

    This is true. But it is also true that House of Lords reform is very dear to Lib Dems’ hearts and every time they bring this up, people will look at the House of Lords and ask why the Lib Dems who are against patronage and an unelected second chamber, have so many Lords in it who have got there by patronage and are unelected, even by their own Party let alone the country. It makes the Lib Dems appear hypocrites.

  • Stephen Hesketh, good point!

  • It reminds me of the SNP who I knew nothing of til recently and who get a hammering on here. I found out they boycott the House of Lords because they don’t believe in it. It made me think ‘ wow these are principled politicians, good for them!” They went up in my estimation because they don’t make a hoo ha about it. You have to see what politicians are like when you scratch the surface not just what they say they believe in.

    Having said that, I hope the Lib Dem Lords stop the Tories doing bad things. So I’m a bit conflicted.

  • David Raw

    “what was at one time a very safe seat”

    I keep having to say this but there is no such thing as a “safe Seat” for the Libdems. Any suggestion that they are safe is dangerous as it encourages complacency. Seats you would have 5 years ago called safe fell like skittles at the election, in the 1980s Westmorland and Lonsdale was safe Tory, if Tim Farron was hit by a bus tomorrow it could fall within 5 years. Liberals have to take and hold seats by hard work.

    As I said in discussion with you before:
    “One thing that is often forgotten is that there is no such thing a s a safe LibDem seat, this idea seems to pass people by in most discussions any assessment of strategy need to accept this fact. Have a read of:
    ‘Liberal Democrat supporters were more amenable to voting Tory than others realised’ You have to accept that many LibDem voters are thinking voters not tribal voters”

  • Adding to the above point. I do have a lot of time for David Laws but the decision to try and send him to the Lords at this time seems odd. A political miscalculation.

  • Stephen Hesketh 17th Aug '15 - 1:00pm

    Thank you Phyllis!

    If we elected our Lords (again) I am sure it would bring a welcome whiff of democracy to the Lords election/selection process, spread democracy and reduce patronage, show Liberal Democrats to be a genuine force for change and democracy, result in greater diversity in the Lords, provide another good reason to be a member of the Lib Dems, ensure members felt more engaged in a bottom up Tim Farron-led party rather than others I might mention, be a beacon to members of other parties on how participative politics might look.

    It seems to me that electing our own (PARTY) representatives in the Lords has everything going for it.

  • David Allen 17th Aug '15 - 1:10pm

    Yes, the unreformed HoL is blatantly a scheme whereby retired politicians can be kept comfortably off and given modestly useful work to do. In that respect, it is far superior to the revolving door, which is a scheme whereby retired politicians can make a mint of money doing “work” which harms government by putting private vested interests in control. We should make our priority the abolition of the revolving door – and if that means leaving the HoL alone, so be it!

  • Phylis

    “It reminds me of the SNP who I knew nothing of til recently and who get a hammering on here. I found out they boycott the House of Lords because they don’t believe in it. It made me think ‘ wow these are principled politicians, good for them!” They went up in my estimation because they don’t make a hoo ha about it. You have to see what politicians are like when you scratch the surface not just what they say they believe in.

    Having said that, I hope the Lib Dem Lords stop the Tories doing bad things. So I’m a bit conflicted.”

    The point is that a second chamber is a very important part of the electoral process, refusing to e part of that is not helpful, boycotting would be ignored by the electorate. It should be used to oppose bad ideas from the commons.

    However as appoint of principle the Libdems in the Lords should propose at every opportunity a total reform of the lords, even though it will be shot down time and time again. The proposed replacement was not great (though better) but repeatedly putting forward a clear alternative (not just “abolish the lords” show you are clear about what would be better) gives a focal point of the criticism.

    I don’t see it as hypocritical to try and reform something by being a member of it. I have no problem with MPs sitting in the commons having been elected by FPTP when they (I assume) believe in STV. The impression of hypocrisy starts to develop if you don’t appear to be doing anything to achieve the aims you claim to hold (by leaving the issue of reform alone).

  • Richard Underhill 17th Aug '15 - 1:17pm

    Stephen Hesketh 17th Aug ’15 – 11:32am “I seem to recall that Tony Greaves and others were elected to their lordships rather than being simple appointees. If this is a correct recollection, I would like to suggest that the Liberal Democrats return, via OMOV, to us electing our permitted quota. … ”
    Quality newspapers are consistently reporting that the decision to appoint, and therefore the timing, belongs to the current Prime Minister.
    The Greens elected a candidate and she is now in the upper house, having previously stood for mayor of london.

  • Richard Underhill 17th Aug '15 - 1:28pm

    Neil Sandison 17th Aug ’15 – 10:09am ” … some MPs had retirement forced upon them by the electorate but would suggest that if they want to continue to give public service and be in public life then they could do no better than to put themselves forward for the district and county elections in 2016 and 2017 also the mayoral and police commissioner elections …”
    The police commissioner elections are on another thread, but what the public want in policing is independence. In 2010 our MPs opposed the Tory idea of replacing the independent supervision of the police with elected people. They managed to delay the elections by six months but were unable to prevent them entirely. In kent the person who was elected is an independent and has visited our parish council AGM. She said the main difference is that her predecessors were not visible. She does get lots of suggestions from the public, to most of which she needs to reply that “it is an operational matter” for decision be the Chief Constable or his staff. The public say that they want more police on the beat, but police budgets are being cut again by Theresa May and George Osborne. Local budgets are ratecapped. Calling a local referendum for more money is expensive and likely to fail.

  • Richard Underhill 17th Aug '15 - 1:33pm

    Phyllis 17th Aug ’15 – 12:08pm A modest proposal would be to stop issuing life peerages and apply term limits. This is short of the elections we would prefer and is not party policy, but, if the idea is circulated perhaps an independent would take it up.
    David Steel was and presumably still is in favour of abolishing the by-elelctions for hereditary peerages.
    Money could be saved by dealing with non-attendance.

  • Stephen Hesketh 17th Aug '15 - 2:13pm

    Richard Underhill17th Aug ’15 – 1:17pm
    “Quality newspapers are consistently reporting that the decision to appoint, and therefore the timing, belongs to the current Prime Minister.”

    And quality newspapers report the ‘queens speech’ and all manner of other things. I am sure you are not suggesting the PM of the day really selects and appoints opposition peers?

    Richard Underhill17th Aug ’15 – 1:33pm
    OMOV would be a modest proposal!

  • Richard Underhill 17th Aug '15 - 2:43pm

    Stephen Hesketh 17th Aug ’15 – 2:13pm
    However undemocratic and outdated these processes are they might still be true. A variety of Labour and Tory PMs from Jim Callaghan to Gordon Brown openly said that the decision as to when to call a general election was theirs alone. Please see Peter Mandelson’s memoirs, The Third Man. Tories would mention the monarchy, but they knew the reality.
    A former Liberal Democrat leader wanted members of the Gang of Four to be elevated to the peerage. The PM demurred. What she said was that these were Labour cabinet ministers, so if the Labour Party nominated them she would certainly consider it. Her successor was more amenable.

  • Richard Underhill 17th Aug '15 - 3:35pm

    The SNP are centralising power in Holyrood. Why should they create a second chamber which might become a rival for power?

  • Liberator has had a lot about peerages in the Lib Dems in recent issues.

    See the piece by Seth Thevoz on pages 6-7 at http://liberatormagazine.org.uk/en/document/liberator-issues-2015/liberator-371.pdf , and the piece by Katherine Bavage on pages 28-29 at http://liberatormagazine.org.uk/en/document/liberator-issues-2015/liberator-372.pdf , and a piece by Peter Dunphy in the latest issue (not yet up online).

    Looks like there’s a lot of food for thought there on whether our party has much of a moral high ground when it comes to peerages.

  • Richard Underhill

    “The SNP are centralising power in Holyrood. Why should they create a second chamber which might become a rival for power?”

    A position humorously close to the Tory position: ‘a more legitimate HoL would challenge the HoC’ totally missing the point that concentrations of power are not a good thing. Funny how much they dislike each other but how close they are in outlook, and so far in retoric.

  • Richard Underhill 17th Aug '15 - 5:24pm

    Some of the Tory MPs who voted against reform of the Lords in the previous parliament were former cabinet ministers with realistic hopes of peerages, or with relatives in the Lords.

  • Whilst I accept that there are many talented people on the lists provided the party is particularly short of those from ethnic backgrounds, the House of Lords seems an ideal place for us to start redressing that balance. I think the David Laws behavour fell well below the standard we shoudl expect from our MPs, he should not be offered a seat in either house by the party in my opinion. I often wonder what planet some of those who make these decisions are on?

  • I share John Kiely’s view on Mr Laws. As we make a fresh start there are two big lessons to be learned from the May debacle.

    1. The electorate rejected Thatcherlite Orange Book austerity from the Cleggies. when they could choose the real Tory alternative. We need policies and attitudes true to our radical heritage. There is a demand for a clean radical alternative to the old politics. It is currently epitomised by the rush to idealism indicated by the support for Corbyn.

    2. The party needs to clean out the stables of all the cash for peerages nonsense as outlined by Seth Tevez. To paraphrase the old slogan : “We need to be seen as clean in thought, word and deed”.

    A rush to appoint ten (or eleven) additional members to the already overpopulated House of Lords will do nothing but invite ridicule. Tough on some….. but, an acceptance of the post May public mood. One comforting thought – 63% rejected Toryism – there is indeed a market waiting to be tapped if only …………….

  • David Evershed 18th Aug '15 - 4:36pm

    David Laws obtained substantial expenses contrary to the parliamentary expense rules.

    His justification was to keep his private life private. However, he could have done so by not claiming the expenses and not taking public funds.

  • anarchyintheuk 18th Aug '15 - 10:25pm

    @John Marriott: Haven’t the Tories held Belper and its successor seats at every election since they took it from George Brown in 1970?

    I agree @David Evershed that there was no God-given rule forcing Laws to claim those expenses. They weren’t a salary, they were an expense, above and beyond his salary. If he was really serious about keeping his private life private, there are any number of perfectly good, plausible reasons he could have come up with for no longer claiming the expense when the rules changed, without needing to bring up his private life.

  • I’m not sure why the Lib Dems are getting *any* new peers; the Lib Dems are currently heavily over-represented in the Lords so shouldn’t natural wastage be allowed to dwindle the numbers until it’s more closely matched to the actual support for the Lib Dems?

  • Richard Underhill 19th Aug '15 - 11:08am

    On Sunday Gordon Brown started his speech by saying he does not want a peerage. As a former Prime Minister he would expect to be offered one and would reasonably be expected to know that Winston, Churchill, Ted Heath and John Major have declined whereas Clem Atlee, Harold Wilson and Jim Callaghan accepted.
    The obvious and immediate answer is that Gordon Brown’s political opinions do not permit him to to accept a peerage and/or that being a former PM means that he does not need one. A possible third factor is that the legislation is not retrospective, so that there are people, such as Lord Archer, remaining in the Lords whom Gordon Brown might dislike.
    Anybody who has been in government has needed to make a lot of decisions. Gordon Brown was Chancellor or PM from 1997 to 2010. Tony Blair was PM for most of that time.
    Needing approval by the House of Lords Appointments Commission, therefore contains an element of risk, delay, risk and inconvenience.
    In the USA Hillary Clinton is needing to explain about emails on a private server relating to her time as the US well travelled equivalent of Foreign Secretary. She is well informed about whom to trust around the world.
    There is also delay in the Chilcot enquiry. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq_Inquiry. Letters to those affected could presumably have contained individual deadlines and maybe should have done.

  • Richard Underhill 19th Aug '15 - 11:16am

    John Marriott 18th Aug ’15 – 7:50pm ” …. Why not pay MPs a decent salary and scrap expenses altogether?”
    This has often been discussed, but please consider geography and the need to be present in person to speak, vote, etc.
    The Daily Telegraph’s features on MPs’ expenses before the 2010 general election showed that some London MPs were simply ineligible to claim allowances under the old rules for housing and travel.

  • Richard Underhill 19th Aug '15 - 11:58am

    Robert Anthony Eden was Prime Minister during the Suez crisis and became 1st Earl of Avon after he resigned.

  • Richard Underhill 19th Aug '15 - 12:13pm

    Several MPs drew attention to the fact that Chilcot would be unable to receive evidence under oath. The criticism by the Liberal Democrats continued with the start of public hearings, with party leader Nick Clegg accusing the government of “suffocating” the inquiry, referring to the power given to government departments to veto sections of the final report.

  • John Marriott 18th Aug ’15 – 7:50pm
    ”[…]Why not pay MPs a decent salary and scrap expenses altogether?”

    Some may say why not scrap expenses and salaries? Just let the very rich run the country, there wouldn’t be in any risk in that would there?

    Suppose we want to calculate what a “decent salary” should be which would eliminate the need for expenses. Lets haphazardly pick an MP in a particular year – Charles Kennedy 2011-12. In order to pay him enough to cover the expenses for that year you would need to pay him a salary of…

    £416,390.75 pa.

    Of course if we were to pay all MPs that, those who live close to London (Tories of surrey say) in safe seats who don’t do much case work and exploit unpaid “interns”/”volunteers” would be keeping a healthy whack for themselves.

    Businesses pay expenses to people for costs of doing their job, to me it looks perfectly ordinary the abuse of the system does not. I assume those who advocate scrapping expenses have a limited experience of different employment.

    To head off down the nihilistic approach of “scrap expenses” “pay them minimum wage” does not end up anywhere I would want the country to be.

    Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.

  • John Marriott 18th Aug ’15 – 7:50pm
    ”[…]Why not pay MPs a decent salary and scrap expenses altogether?”

    If we want to try and reduce cost of running parliament and central government (which I am all in favour of) we cauld simply relocate central government to some where more central to the UK. My suggestion:
    The legal stuff (the key courts: SC, CoA, MoJ etc.) to Liverpool
    Parliament to near Manchester, most key central government departments close to that.

    A better use of space and lower opportunity cost of land and buildings, but I’m getting off topic now.

  • Richard Underhill 19th Aug '15 - 2:22pm

    John Marriott 18th Aug ’15 – 7:50pm “David Laws, despite his obvious ability, was a fool to think he could get away with his expenses claim. But surely his ‘crime’ in no way equates with that of Lords Archer, Taylor or Sewell, to give just three examples. ”
    We should maintain a presumption of innocence for Sewell for the moment.

  • Richard Underhill 19th Aug '15 - 3:52pm

    Although Gordon Brown does not want a peerage, he arranged peerages for others when he was PM, and, of course, they still have them, despite two general elections for the House of Commons. Maybe Labour lacked talent.
    Top businessman Digby Jones became a minister in a Labour government but now sits as an independent on the cross benches. Unlike George George-Brown he has not added his first name t his surname.
    The other Trivial Pursuit question is What is Gordon Brown’s first name?

  • John Tilley 19th Aug '15 - 6:03pm

    David Evershed 18th Aug ’15 – 4:36pm
    David Laws obtained substantial expenses contrary to the parliamentary expense rules.
    “…His justification was to keep his private life private. However, he could have done so by not claiming the expenses and not taking public funds.”

    Yes indeed. Why did someone who was reportedly a multi-millionaire claim expense he did not need?
    If he wanted to protect his privacy this was an odd way to go about it. If he had not made the claims he would not have been subject to unwelcome scrutiny and the likelihood of public exposure would have been less.

    Perhaps he did not think this through?

  • nvelope2003 21st Aug '15 - 9:39pm

    David Laws has denied on many occasions that he was a millionaire. He was obliged to sell his house to repay the expenses although the report on this matter stated that he would have been entitled to more money had he made the claim in the correct manner. It is a sad story which the local Conservatives and Labour people twisted to suit their own agendas. Regular readers of the Western Gazette must be relieved it is all over as it was a depressing experience to read the biased and vitriolic treatment of this matter in the letters page.

  • Its the right time for the party to get radical and campaign for the abolition of the bloated , costly anachronism that is the House of Lords.

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