Expenses peers face Lords suspension

Parliament demands they repay claims of £200,000

Three peers face suspension from the House of Lords for months after investigations into their expenses, it was claimed last night. Parliamentary authorities will tomorrow demand the repayment of almost £200,000 in claims from two Labour peers and a crossbencher,
The Sunday Telegraph reported.

It follows an investigation by the subcommittee on Lords' interests, headed by the former head of MI5, Baroness Manningham-Buller, into the alleged misuse of allowances, including a £174 overnight claim for a peer whose main home was outside the M25.

Baroness Uddin, who became the first Muslim peer when appointed by Labour in 1998, could be suspended for between 12 and 18 months, The Sunday Telegraph said. Baroness Uddin will also return £125,000, the paper reported. This follows claims that her main home was in Maidstone, Kent, even though she owned another property in the capital.

Lord Paul, a Labour peer and friend of Gordon Brown, is expected to pay back £40,000 and could be suspended for four to six months over claims he had never spent the night at a flat in Oxfordshire registered as his second home.

And Lord Bhatia, a crossbencher who has donated money to Labour, has been recommended for a suspension of between six months and year. He is to repay £27,000 voluntarily. It follows reports he flipped his designated main home to a two-bedroom flat in Reigate, Surrey, just outside the M25. The three peers could not be contacted last night.

Earlier this year, police investigations into a number of peers were dropped after a controversial change in the rules. There had been no official definition of what a "main address" constituted, leaving members to decide which property to nominate.

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