House of Lords inquiry politicised, say peers

The Government's standards watchdog has "politicised" an inquiry into the House of Lords, a leading Conservative peer claimed last night.

Lord Neill of Bladen had decided at the behest of a Labour spin-doctor to examine whether opposition frontbenchers should have to resign from their outside jobs, according to the Conservative leader in the Lords, Lord Strathclyde. He said Lord Neill had told him he had received a letter on the subject from Fraser Kemp, a former Labour press officer and MP for Houghton and Washington.

Lord Strathclyde made his comments on the eve of the debate in which some peers will try to stop Lord Neill's Committee on Standards in Public Life from conducting an inquiry into their interests and a code of conduct. "It is becoming increasingly obvious that the whole process has been politicised. At the very heart of Lord Neill's report is the suggestion that all opposition spokesmen should divest themselves of any other financial interests," Lord Strathclyde said.