Oakeshott to challenge Tory peer’s home expense claims

From the BBC:

The Lib Dems’ Treasury spokesman Lord Oakeshott said he would be asking Lords authorities what address Lord Taylor claimed for between 2001 and 2007.

Lord Taylor told the newspaper he regarded the property in the West Midlands as his main home.

The Sunday Times alleged Lord Taylor claimed more than £70,000 in overnight allowances between 2001 and 2007 on the basis that his mother’s home in the West Midlands was his main home.

The paper claimed the house was in fact sold in 2001 after his mother’s death – but Lord Taylor said he regarded it as his home base even after she passed away.

The paper said he declined to give addresses for any of his homes after the House of Lords advised him not to make his domestic circumstances public because of previous racist abuse.

Lord Oakeshott told the BBC that Lord Taylor should pay the money back if the address was not made known.

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  • If we’re so worried about dodgy claims in the Lords then why didn’t we sack Rennard?

  • Herbert Brown 4th Aug '09 - 8:47pm

    The more evidence that comes to light of peers abusing the overnight subsistence allowance, the more obvious it is that there needs to be a thorough and rigorous investigation of the claims that have been made by all peers. It’s no good referring two or three of the very worst offenders to the police and trying to turn a blind eye to the rest.

    If someone has made a false statement about where their main residence is in order to claim public money they’re not entitled to – perhaps running into tens of thousands of pounds – I think they should be punished every bit as harshly as a claimant who commits benefit fraud.

    Sadly, the party seems more inclined to try to cover up for its own offenders. A high-risk strategy, as well as plain wrong.

  • Herbert Brown 4th Aug '09 - 9:24pm

    Incidentally, according to Paul Staines’s “Sunlight Centre” website, they have received a response to an enquiry to the Clerk of the Parliaments, Michael Pownall:
    “We have been told that Lord Rennard is under investigation by the House of Lords authorities and we will be made aware of the outcome in due course.”

  • David Allen 5th Aug '09 - 12:12am

    People whose main residences are glasshouses…..

  • Herbert Brown 5th Aug '09 - 1:18am

    Sadly, it’s been rather obvious for some time that the party line of defence ran something like this:
    “The rules don’t define what ‘main residence’ means, so peers are free to interpret the phrase in any way they see fit, and however they interpret it, no one can say that they have broken the rules.”

    Equally, the fact that this is the line of defence – rather than “We are satisfied that Lord Rennard’s main residence was in Eastbourne” – makes it painfully obvious that Lord Rennard’s main residence was not – in any reasonable sense of the phrase – in Eastbourne.

    Anyhow, the one thing that is clear is that the party is not fit to carry out any meaningful investigation into the matter. Let’s hope “the House of Lords authorities” are capable of doing so. But given that the problem seems to be so widespread, I am not optimistic (unless the press can shame them into it).

  • @ David Allan

    should not lightly throw around a ton of bricks?

  • Herbert Brown 9th Aug '09 - 4:16pm

    Some further confirmation that Rennard is being investigated, from the Sunday Times:
    “The House of Lords is looking into complaints about the expenses claims of Lords Rennard, Taylor and Bhatia, although the inquiries into the latter two will be postponed if the police decide to investigate. “

    Confirmation, too, of the extreme unwisdom of senior party members saying things like “There is no reason to “clear” Liberal Democrat Peers of impropriety because no-one has been accused of impropriety”.

  • Libdem Guru 9th Aug '09 - 4:58pm

    Any Peer guilty of an offence of fraud should be removed from the House and charged under the same law as anyone else.

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