Andy McSmith's Diary: Oh Lords! Disgraced peer trousers £5,500 in one month


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Indy Politics

It seems that nothing will ever shame the ermine troughers out of claiming from the public purse. Paul White, aka Lord Hanningfield, an ex-Tory peer, has not spoken in the House of Lords, nor tabled any written questions since he was sent to jail for fiddling his expenses, but figures reveal that in November he had his best month yet for pocketing the £300 daily allowance to which he is entitled just for turning up. He signed in on 17 separate days, which entitled him to £5,100. He also claimed £407 travel costs. That means that in the first eight months since his return after his prison spell, Lord Hanningfield trousered a total of £21,000 in daily attendance allowances, plus £1,736 costs.

Lord Taylor of Warwick, another ex-Tory who also did time for expenses fiddling, claimed £3,000 in November, meaning that he notched up £12,900 in six months since his reappearance. He also has not made a speech since his trial, though he has tabled written questions. Baroness Uddin, an ex-Labour peer, who was not prosecuted but was ordered to repay more than £125,000, has also been dipping in, claiming £5,400 in November, bringing her total £15,600 in six months.

Taxpayers’ funeral bill not available

It is laid down in the Financial Services (Distance Marketing) Regulations 2004 that funeral directors must give their customers “clear information including…payment details” before selling them a funeral plan. Will taxpayers be given ‘payment details’ about Wednesday’ funeral, for which they are carrying the bill? Downing Street was asked, and the short answer is no.

Hague Code vague on North Korea missiles

As William Hague takes a leading role at the meeting of G8 foreign ministers in condemning North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons, my attention is drawn to questions asked by the Green MP, Caroline Lucas, last November about the UK’s Trident missiles test launch in the Atlantic.

She was assured by the defence minister, Philip Dunne, that the test was carried out in accordance with the internationally agree procedure – which goes by the name of the Hague Code of Conduct. It is named after the place, not the person.