UK Politics

Lords expenses probe dropped over 'press storm' fears

Baroness D'Souza Image copyright PA
Image caption Baroness D'Souza investigated abuse of allowances

Members of the House of Lords who claim perks without doing any work will not be "named and shamed", BBC Two's Meet the Lords reveals.

Lords speaker Baroness D'Souza spent months investigating peers who collected their £300 daily allowance but did not take part in debates.

One member was alleged to have kept a taxi running outside while signing in to collect the allowance.

But Baroness D'Souza shelved the probe to avoid a "press storm".

She told the programme: "What I wanted to find out in the research that I did a few months ago was who was attending and what they were claiming and even though it is very difficult to quantify there are some who make no contribution whatsoever but who nevertheless claim the full amount.

"This is not a daycare centre or a club, it is actually a legislative house and I do firmly believe that the people who attend ought to be able to be in a position to contribute."

She added: "I abandoned this research because it would have involved a degree of naming and shaming which I certainly didn't want to do.

"But also that would in turn have provoked some kind of sort of a press storm which clearly, you know, I didn't wish to - to do. But I mean the reputation of the House is not that great anyhow."

The peer also says the reputation of the Lords has "probably never been lower".

A House of Lords spokesman said no official investigation had been started or dropped, and that Baroness D'Souza had been doing "private research... in a personal capacity".

"What she chose to do with that research is a matter for her," he said.

"The House of Lords has a robust system for dealing with allegations of breaches of the code of conduct including the power to suspend and expel members, with investigations carried out by the independent commissioner for standards."

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