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
Life and Style
love + sex
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
News
people
Voices
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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 Administrator

£16000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Administrator is requ...

Recruitment Genius: International Trade Advisors - Hertfordshire or Essex

£30000 - £35379 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The company is based in Welwyn ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Controller - Response Centre

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Resource and Recruitment Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Resource and Recruitment Manage...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn