London: Nine peers of House of Lords have
escaped sanction over their expenses claims as an official
ruling said they have to spend only one night a month in their
"main residence" to claim thousands of pounds a year.
Michael Pownall, Clerk of the Parliaments, issued the
judgment as he cleared the nine peers, including Baroness
Barker, the Liberal Democrat peer, of improperly claiming
overnight expenses in London.
Pownall said that a peer did not need to own the property
they claimed as their "main or only residence" outside London.
Indeed, it could be owned by a relative other than a
spouse or partner.
He said he had relied on "explicit written assurances"
from peers about how long they spent there.
Pownall, a career Lords official and the accounting
officer, said that he had sought guidance from the House
Committee, the body of senior peers that oversees the running
of the House, the Times reported.
It said that peers should visit a home "in the order of
at least once a month" while the Lords was sitting for it to
be considered their main residence.
Time spent there during recess was also relevant.
Peers can claim ?174 as an overnight subsistence
allowance if they designate their main home outside London.
Pownall cleared nine peers of any wrongdoing, including
Baroness Barker who claimed more than ?70,000 over nearly four
years for staying in London, where she has jointly owned a
house since 1990.
According to the Times, the others cleared included Lord
Colwyn, a Tory peer who claimed ?170,000 by designating a
Cotswolds property as his main home and Baroness Hayman, the
Lord Speaker, who claimed ?200,000 over eight years for a
property in Norfolk.
Besides, Baroness Morgan of Drefelin, the Children`s
Minister, who claimed more than ?140,000 for a cottage in West
Wales, Baroness Northover, a Liberal Democratic frontbench
spokeswoman, who claimed ?90,000 on her mother`s home in
Sussex, Baroness Thornton, a Labour whip, who claimed ?22,000
on her mother`s bungalow in Yorkshire have also been cleared.
The rest to escape sanction are: Lord Morris of
Manchester, who claimed on a house in Manchester before
flipping his main residence to London, Baroness Whitaker, a
Labour peer who claimed ?150,000 on a rented cottage in
Sussex; and Lord Haworth, the Labour peer, who claimed
100,000 on a property in Scotland.