Archer and Black could escape Lords ban

Plan to expel peers in wake of cash scandal may not be retrospective

Peers already found guilty of serious criminal offences could escape expulsion from the House of Lords because a proposed ban might not be retrospective.

Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, admitted that a crackdown on peers in the wake of the "cash for amendments" scandal might not allow the removal of Lord Archer of Weston-super-Mare, who was convicted of perjury, and the press baron Lord Black of Crossharbour, who is serving a jail sentence in America for fraud.

Mr Straw confirmed yesterday he intends to bring in legislation under which peers sentenced to more than a year in prison could be expelled. The punishment could also be imposed for "grossly improper conduct" not involving a criminal offence, and Lords would be allowed to resign for the first time. Archer was sentenced to four years and Black was given six and a half.

The moves will form part of a Constitutional Renewal Bill to be introduced this spring and far-reaching reforms to bring in a mainly elected second chamber will be shelved until after the general election. The Bill could also allow the removal of peers who avoid paying tax in Britain by being "non-residents" or enjoying "non-domicile" status.

However, experts doubt whether all the measures could be imposed retrospectively, casting doubt over whether Archer and Black would be kicked out. The four Labour peers being questioned in relation to "cash for amendments" might also escape expulsion, in the event that they were convicted of any wrongdoing, although they could be suspended under a parallel plan to tighten the Lords' disciplinary code.

Mr Straw said: "We will certainly pass a law to ensure that if you have been convicted of a serious criminal offence, you could not sit in the House of Lords.

"There is a separate issue about whether any change of the law which is adverse to individuals could or should apply retrospectively. So leave aside those individuals who have indeed been convicted of serious offences in the past."

Some ministers want the Government's drive to restore the reputation of Parliament to include a plan to curb MPs' outside jobs, disclosed by The Independent last July. Labour MPs believe it could embarrass David Cameron, who has backed down over plans to ban his Shadow Cabinet from holding outside jobs after a rebellion led by William Hague, the shadow Foreign Secretary. But the Tories pointed out that a clampdown on outside jobs could also affect at least 10 former Labour ministers who now earn up to £165,000 a year from work outside parliament. They include Patricia Hewitt, Alan Milburn, David Blunkett and John Reid.

The Sunday Times, which revealed the "cash for amendments" affair last week, said yesterday that Lord Truscott, one of the four Labour peers, met the then energy minister Malcolm Wicks without disclosing he was paid by a lobbying firm whose clients included Russia's state-owned gas firm Gazprom. Lord Truscott was not available for comment yesterday.

The Liberal Democrats will ask the Metropolitan Police to investigate allegations against four other peers with outside jobs who tried to amend Bills. They have insisted they acted within the rules.

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
  • 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: Senior Managing Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of refrigeration, mechan...

Recruitment Genius: Advertisement Sales Manager

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A publishing company based in F...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Affiliates & Partnerships

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This multi-award winning foreig...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Structural Engineer

£17000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Graduate Structural Engineer ...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor