UK & World News

  • 17 December 2013, 10:52

Peer 'Earns £300 For 40 Minutes Of Work'

A peer jailed for expenses fraud has defended regularly "clocking in" to claim a £300 daily attendance allowance despite spending less than 40 minutes inside the House of Lords.

Lord Hanningfield - who served nine weeks of a nine-month jail sentence in 2011 for falsely claiming £28,000 in parliamentary expenses - suggested it was normal practice.

He also said as many as 50 other peers have done the same.

The money went on "entertaining, meeting people, employing people", he said, adding that he was a "full-time peer" who needed to be able to pay his electricity bill and buy food.

There is no suggestion the former Conservative broke any rules, but he faces calls from a Labour MP for him to be investigated by parliamentary authorities.

John Mann said: "There needs to be a full investigation into how he has been allowed to get away with it. We need to give the House of Lords a proper and transparent spring-cleaning."

The Daily Mirror said on 11 of 19 days that it monitored the peer's movements in July, he travelled to Westminster from his home in Essex, but spent less than 40 minutes in the Lords before returning.

The shortest attendance during the month was 21 minutes and the longest more than five hours, it said - with a total of £5,700 claimed in attendance allowance over the month and £471 in travel costs.

Lord Hanningfield told the newspaper: "Lots of peers go in and check in for their expenses, but they are using their expenses for a lot of things, entertaining, meeting people, employing people."

He added: "Clocking in and out of Parliament is only part of being a peer.

"By the time I have people at home to help, time I have people in the House of Lords to help me, I spend something like £150 a day on expenses, so I don't really make any profit."

He told the newspaper: "I can name 50 that do it. I see the same people go in and out as I do. I don't want to be persecuted."

The former leader of Essex County Council, who was stripped of the Tory whip in 2010, said that in July he had been "trying to get myself back on track" after suffering a breakdown because of the expenses scandal.

Kevin Maguire, associate editor at the Daily Mirror, said Lord Hanningfield should name any other peers who also "clock in".

"He says he could name 50 other peers who do exactly the same as he does," Mr Maguire told Sky News.

"Well, come on Lord Hanningfield, name them. I think the public has a right to know. Because they're claiming £300 a day tax-free. And if they're not working, they shouldn't be paid."

A guide for peers on claiming the £300 daily allowance says it is available to those "who certify that they have carried out appropriate parliamentary work".

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