Lord Hanningfield was exposed in yesterday's Mirror for clocking into Parliament for a few minutes a day before leaving, in order to ‘earn’ his £300 a day allowance. He has claimed more than £50,000 of taxpayers' money since returning from prison in April 2012, despite never having spoken in any debates, or asked any questions until October this year. The Mirror reports that on one occasion he was there for only 21 minutes before leaving, barely enough time reach his chamber in Parliament before flying off.
Though Lord Hanningfield has not technically broken the law, the seriousness of this issue should not be understated. His actions will only serve to reverse much of the work done following the expenses scandal to try and restore confidence in politics.
Another question is why the disgraced peer, previously convicted of falsely claiming £14,000 for staying in London when he was not there, was released after serving only a quarter of his sentence and allowed to return to Parliament in the first place? These new allegations are just further proof that this quirk in the rules needs amending.
The continued presence of a disgraced peer, who stole taxpayers’ money, in the House of Lords is totally unacceptable. This leaves the public unsure what deterrent there is for stealing thousands of pounds from taxpayers, only then to return to Parliament, and then sit in judgement of the law. All while while claiming a taxpayer funded allowance for merely showing up for a few minutes a day.
The Lords are meant to be a place of honour and parliamentary oversight, not an opportunity for expenses cheats to rip off taxpayers. Lord Hanningfield’s actions and his continued presence in the Lords have only harmed this reputation and made people even more cynical of politicians and politics.