Andy McSmith's Diary: A month in the lucrative life of Lord Hanningfield

 

November 2013 was the last full month that the old jailbird Lord Hanningfield was able to stroll in and out of the House of Lords to record his presence so that he qualified for his £300-a-day allowance, blissfully unaware that the Daily Mirror had photographic evidence of what he was up to. One pair of photographs showed that he spent just 21 minutes on the premises, earning himself a handy £14 a minute.

There were 15 days in November when he could have clocked in, and details of peers’ expenses claims that have just been posted online show that he managed 14, thereby trousering £4,200.

By the end of November, Lord Hanningfield had spoken once in a Lords committee, though not in the debating chamber, and has asked three written questions since returning after serving prison sentence for fiddling his expenses. In those same 18 months, he claimed a total of £60,000 tax-free.

When it comes to shamelessness, you cannot beat a trougher in ermine.

Unconscious coupling

The Tory whips have been unusually busy, telling their MPs that they want a maximum turnout on Wednesday to vote through David Cameron’s pet scheme giving tax breaks for married couples. The Government’s majority will be down from normal because Nick Clegg and the other Liberal Democrat MPs are not going to vote for it. To Labour’s chagrin, they are not voting against either, which means that the measure will probably get through, but only just.

Banquet fit for a birthday

A belated happy birthday to Daniel Mulhall, the Republic of Ireland’s ambassador in London, who turned 59 on the very day that the state visit by the Irish President, Michael D Higgins, began. A banquet at Windsor Castle, with the Queen, the President and a glittering guest list, has got to be the smartest birthday bash ever had by a humble diplomat.

Nasty to Nadine

The Tory MP Nadine Dorries and journalists at The Daily Telegraph have not been best buddies for the past five years, since the newspaper looked into her expenses and she accused them of conducting a McCarthyite witch-hunt. So it fits in the scheme of things that her debut novel, for which she received a six-figure advance, was given a pasting by the Telegraph’s reviewer Christopher Howse: “If the story had begun at page 289, on which something happens, it might have stood a chance… This is the worst novel I’ve read in 10 years.”

It would be out of keeping for Dorries to take these insults quietly. She tweeted: “Daily Telegraph rejected review of my book they commissioned Christina Odone to write and got a bloke to write a spiteful nasty one instead.”

Donetsk and dragons

Donetsk, the steel city in eastern Ukraine that is now much in the news, was not always called Donetsk. It went through a phase of being named after Stalin, and before that, it was named Yuzovka after the engineer who founded its first factory in 1869, to make steel for Tsar Alexander II’s navy.

He had a name that could not be transcribed precisely in the Cyrillic alphabet, which has no letter “h” nor any letter or combination equivalent to our “gh”.

The man the Russians called “Yuz” was actually John Hughes, an iron master from Merthyr Tydfil. Born in 1814, he took 100 Welsh miners and steelworkers with him to build a factory and open coal mines in what was then an under populated corner of the Russian empire.

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
News
i100
Sport
footballLatest scores and Twitter updates
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
Life and Style
The spring/summer 2015 Louis Vuitton show for Paris Fashion Week
fashion
Voices
voices
Sport
Ronaldinho signs the t-shirt of a pitch invader
footballProof they are getting bolder
News
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
Extras
indybestKeep extra warm this year with our 10 best bedspreads
Life and Style
health
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad