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
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own