Andy McSmith's Diary: The disgraced peer and his negligible £3,000 a month

 

Last month I noted that Lord Hanningfield, the former Tory leader of Essex Council, has edged a step further towards being an active member of the House of Lords by tabling a written question, his first since he appeared in court charged with fiddling his expenses in February 2010. This follows the tentative first step he took last month, by saying something during a committee meeting. He still has not contributed anything to any debate in the main House of Lords chamber.

Meanwhile, the latest figures reveal that he claimed £4,800 attendance allowance in June this year. That brought his total claims in the first 15 months, since he came back from doing a spell in jail, to £45,600. That is not to mention hundreds of pounds worth of expenses.

Peers are entitled to £300 a day just for turning up, even if they do not say or do anything, and no matter how much it embarrasses other peers to see someone who has been caught fiddling the system back there making use of the facilities. That sum, which averages more than £3,000 a month, is tax-free.

When asked about it by a local journalist, Lord Hanningfield replied: “It is not a great amount of money.”

Cameron gets heavy

Two major feeds on Twitter are must-follows for devotees of heavy metal: Download Festival, for what claims to be “the greatest festival in the world”, at Donington Park, Leicestershire; and Sonisphere, the site for a touring festival whose 2014 berth will be Knebworth. Both are followed by David Cameron.

So is that what the PM does in his spare moments: turn to Twitter to find out where Alice in Chains are appearing on a Saturday night?

Thanks but no thanks

How kind of Michael Ashcroft to offer to replace Tom Newton Dunn on the late-night paper review on Sky News this week, although an appearance would have kept him up late on the day before he was due to visit Gibraltar.

After Lord Ashcroft made the offer, via Twitter, Sky presenter Anna Botting replied: “Now, now, down boy.” Paper reviewers come in pairs. Newton Dunn was appearing in tandem with Rowenna Davis, a 28-year-old author.  Lord Ashcroft is 67.

Campbell’s confession

“I was OK at my job but not a great journalist,” said Cambridge University’s new visiting lecturer, Alastair Campbell, speaking of his time on the Mirror group, owned by Robert Maxwell. “My only award was the Cudlipp Award, and given Robert Maxwell was a judge and one of the articles was about his heroic role alleviating famine in Ethiopia, I am not sure it counts.”

On the wrong track?

The people in charge of HS2 are preparing for the controversy that will inevitably accompany the passage through Parliament of the legislation that will let them start the groundwork.

They have advertised for a £50,000-a-year “evidence manager”, among whose duties will be “to support stakeholder engagement and overarching petition minimisation strategy”. I have often thought that what the rail system needs most is an overarching petition minimisation strategist.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory