House of Lords panel suspends Swraj Paul

Last Updated: Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - 11:51

London: The Privileges Committee of House
of Lords on Monday recommended suspension for varying periods of
three members of Asian-origin including Lord Swraj Paul,
despite finding that he had not acted "dishonestly or in bad
faith" in claiming certain allowances.

Bangladesh-born Baroness Manzila Pola Uddin faces
suspension for about 18 months, besides being asked to repay a
sum of over 125,000 pounds, Lord Amirali Alibhai Bhatia for 8
months and Lord Paul for 4 months for claiming allowances
which are paid to MPs who show their residences outside
London.

The recommendations will be debated by the House on
October 21 before it takes a final decision.

The committee said about Lord Paul "We do not feel
justified in finding, on the balance of probabilities, that
Lord Paul acted dishonestly or in bad faith.

However, his actions were utterly unreasonable and
demonstrated gross irresponsibility and negligence."

Paul said in a statement after the report of the
Committee for Privileges and Conduct was made public that his
"honesty and integrity" had been upheld and yet he had been
treated "harshly".

He recalled when a newspaper had published allegations
against him a year back, he himself had requested an
investigation and had voluntarily and immediately repaid about
40,000 pounds which he had claimed in 2005-2006.

Moreover, the police had decided that there was no
case for him to answer.

The NRI industrialist said that the rules for such
allowances had been clarified and modified only in July this
year. He expressed the view that the Committee cannot apply
"perspective and standards" of 2010 to the rules operating in
2005.

"I am disappointed that I seem to have been treated
more harshly than others" he said, with reference to how the
cases of some other members have been dealt with.

Yet, he said, he has accepted the Committee`s decision
in the best tradition of parliamentary democracy.

Lord Bhatia has also maintained that he acted properly
in claiming the allowance. However, earlier this month he had
repaid about 27,000 pounds claimed by him earlier.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - 11:51

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