Diary: Oh, to be an ex-con Lord, free once more to claim expenses

Second chance for former Tory chairman of Essex County Council who served two months for fiddling his allowances

Fact File
  • 150 members of the House of Lords are over 80
Related Topics

The House of Lords has been back at work all week, holding its usual learned and mostly pointless debates.

The peers returned from their summer break a week before MPs, knowing that the threat to abolish them is officially not going to happen before the 2015 general election. The Government has not even legislated to bar Lords convicted of criminal offences from turning up to claim expenses, which they would not be able to do if they were elected.

Lord Hanningfield, aka Paul White, the former Tory chairman of Essex County Council, served just over two months of a nine-month prison sentence for fiddling his allowances. He claimed £3,000 in attendance allowance and £284 in rail and taxi fares in May, and £1,200 in allowances and £112 costs in April. The MPs jailed for similar crimes and who are now ruined must so wish they had been life peers. 

A graceful exit? No thanks

One cost-free Lords reform has been quietly introduced. A life peerage used to be literally for life with no escape even for those who would like to call it a day. Last year, the Lords rewrote their rules to give ageing peers the option of retiring but without a pay-off. In an assembly that includes 150 members aged over 80, you might think they would be queuing to take up this option, but they are not. John Habgood, the former Archbishop of York, 85, and Jeremy Hutchinson, a lawyer and husband of  the late actor Dame Peggy Ashcroft, formally retired last week. No one else has.

Rendel gives up the Newbury ghost

When John Major’s government was falling apart in 1993 , a talented Tory MP named Judith Chaplin died suddenly, and Liberal Democrat David Rendel had his third crack at the seat. He won by 22,055 votes, and remained Newbury’s MP until Richard Benyon retook the town for the Tories in 2010. Yesterday, Mr Rendel announced that he will not be contesting the seat again because the general election clashes with elections to Berkshire County Council –not to mention that the prospect of Liberal Democrats winning any Commons seats that they do not already hold are rather small.  

Grief in New Labour land

In Tony Blair’s old constituency of Sedgefield, the former executive officer of Ferryhill Town Council, Jamie Corrigan, has filed a claim for constructive dismissal. When the council met this week, press and public were excluded and a row broke out behind closed doors about who would take the minutes, since it obviously was not going to be Mr Corrigan. It got so out of hand that police were called to escort two councillors off the premises.


React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Security Advisor – Permanent – Surrey - £60k-£70k

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

MI Analyst – Permanent – West Sussex – £25k-£35k

£25000 - £35000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Geography Teacher

£100 - £160 per day + mileage and expenses: Randstad Education Leeds: This out...

KS2 supply teacher

£80 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recruiting fo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Abortions based solely on gender are illegal in Britain  

Abortion is safe, and it should be as available as easily as contraception

Ann Furedi
Photo issued by Flinders University of an artist's impression of a Microbrachius dicki mating scene  

One look at us Scots is enough to show how it was our fishy ancestors who invented sex

Donald MacInnes
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album