UK Politics

Expenses: Peers banned from Lords until cash repaid

Houses of Parliament
Image caption The new rules are set to be agreed next Tuesday

Peers who wrongly claimed expenses will be banned from returning to the House of Lords until they repay the money.

There had been suggestions two suspended peers would return to the Lords and use their daily allowance to pay off the money they owed.

Lady Uddin and Lord Hanningfield both still owe money to the Lords for wrongly claiming housing expenses.

Many peers had expressed concern at the idea of their allowances being used to repay misclaimed expenses.

The House Committee in the Lords will recommend that the peers should not be allowed back until their debts are paid.

It will create a new procedure to allow the Lords to extend the period of suspension until the cash is paid back.

The proposal is expected to be formally agreed by the whole of the Lords next Tuesday.

'Inappropriate'

Lady Uddin owes £125,000 in wrongly claimed expenses, and it is understood she claims she cannot afford to make the repayments demanded.

Lord Hanningfield was convicted in July of falsely claiming nearly £14,000.

The disgraced peer was jailed for nine months but was released on licence in September. He currently wears an electronic tag and observes a 19:15 GMT curfew.

The House Committee has decided that it is "inappropriate" for either of them to return to the Lords until they have repaid the money they owe in full.

The move comes after a separate committee warned that allowing either peer to do so risked bringing the Lords "into further disrepute".

Both peers have already been banned from the Lords until April 2012.

Debt recovery

The House Committee considered allowing them to forgo all or part of their daily attendance allowance of up to £300 a day to repay their debts, or to deny them any allowances but allow them to speak and vote in Lords.

It rejected both, saying in a statement: "We consider that it would be inappropriate for a member to return to the House while still owing money."

The ban will run until the end of the current parliament.

But the Lords can only issue a ban until the end of a session of parliament and the present parliament is due to end next April.

Banning the two peers beyond then would infringe their right to attend parliament, which is conferred by the Queen. So the committee has also decided that if no repayments have been made by the end of the session, moves will be made at that time to formally ban them again.

The House of Lords has no power to force Lady Uddin and Lord Hanningfield to repay what they owe, but the committee did consider legal action.

"Debt recovery through the courts is not practical in relation to such repayments," it said.

"The court might well decline jurisdiction on the grounds that the debt arises from the proceedings of a parliamentary committee.

"But if it did not, and the debt were not admitted, the member could in effect obtain a rehearing of the whole issue already investigated by the Committee for Privileges and Conduct."

Both Lady Uddin and Lord Hanningfield can still return to the Lords if they repay the cash they owe a month before their bans end.

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