Hundreds of thousands of pounds in allowances were paid during 2015 to peers who went through the year without ever contributing in the House of Lords.
Some 117 vermin in ermine who are still listed as members of the House of Lords never spoke in the main Lords chamber in the past year. That’s one in seven of the total.
At least 49 signed the register and claimed the £300 daily attendance allowance. Some pocketed an average of more than £4,000 a month.
Lord Taylor of Blackburn claimed £29,100 in tax free allowances during six months in 2015, although he did not speak.
Lord Borrie, former head of the Advertising Standards Authority, claimed £21,300 in six months, although he did not speak.
Lord Davies of Coity, the former head of the shopworkers’ union Usdaw, claimed £14,700 in six months, plus more than £7,000 towards the cost of travelling. He did not speak.
Lord Hanningfield was jailed in 2011 for fiddling his expenses and suspended in 2014 for claiming an allowance after doing no work. After his suspension ended in May, he received £3,600 in allowances in three months.
Some 30 Tory party members or supporters received awards in the New Year honours list.
Political strategist Lynton Crosby was knighted for political service. It follows his short stint working for the Conservative Party earlier this year—for which he was paid £500,000.
Jacqueline Gold, chief executive of Ann Summers, has been appointed CBE for services to entrepreneurialism. She is a serial donor to the Tories. Another Tory to receive a knighthood is Henry Bellingham, an Old Etonian who has been MP for North West Norfolk for 32 years.
Nicky Morgan has announced that all year six pupils will be expected to know their times tables up to 12x12.
But the education secretary refused to answer any times tables questions as people would focus on any wrong answers. And it turns out children already have to learn their times tables. But Morgan hopes to use maths tests to target schools for privatisation.
No 10 was sent so many emails about David Cameron and the “PigGate” story it has refused Freedom of Information requests on it. Downing Street claimed the cost of releasing email correspondence on it would cost too much due to the sheer volume of emails it received.
The e-cig industry coughs up for MP
Rugby Tory MP Mark Pawsey used prime minister’s questions to solicit an endorsement of e-cigarettes from David Cameron. After he received £1,650 in hospitality from a e-cigarettes manufacturer.
Pawsey asked, “Will the prime minister join me in highlighting the role that e-cigarettes can play in helping people give up tobacco for good?”
Cameron responded, “It is promising to see that a million people have used e-cigarettes.”
Pawsey is the chair of a pro-vaping parliamentary group established in late 2014. The group’s contact is listed as lobbyist Ian Gregory of ABZED Communications.
Gregory is also listed, via another lobbying outfit, as a press contact for E-Lites e-cigarettes.
The E-Lites brand was acquired by Japan Tobacco in 2014. The Japan Tobacco that treated Pawsey to £1,650 in sporting hospitality at the end of September.
Cleveland cops spy on own Asian officers
Troublemaker regular Cleveland constabulary faces claims that it secretly obtained details from confidential emails between Asian officers and solicitors.
The then chief constable was sacked in 2012 for gross misconduct. In November an employment tribunal exposed a racist campaign that targeted an Asian firearms officer.
The ordeal endured by Nadeem Saddique highlighted racist attitudes that the force’s own disciplinary unit failed to investigate properly, the tribunal found. Fellow officers had described him as “just a Paki”.
PC Saddique had written emails in 2012 to a senior ethnic minority officer after a white colleague sported an English Defence League sticker on the holster of his weapon. The sticker reputedly included the phrase, “Crusades against Muslims, tell me you’re a Muslim and I’ll shoot you.”
Royals slum it with duvets
It’s good to hear that the Royal family is finally moving with the times. “Well-placed sources” have revealed that Windsor Castle has ditched sheets and eiderdowns in its many guest bedrooms.
Duvets have been brought in instead. Not everyone is happy.
One royal employee said using duvets “seems a little like something a hotel chain might do”.
They added, “They’ll be putting chocolates on the pillows next.” The source went on, “It’s rather old fashioned but many believe using sheets, blankets and eiderdowns is one of those traditions that should be retained.”
Murdoch holds Tory party
David Cameron was joined by George Osborne at Rupert Murdoch’s Christmas house party. In fact, half the Conservative cabinet went to toast the media magnate.
John Whittingdale, the culture secretary whose job it is to regulate the media industry, popped in.
As did Priti Patel, the employment minister.
Rebekah Brooks was the most senior News Corp UK executive in attendance.
It is understood to be her first chance to raise a glass with the prime minister since being reappointed as chief executive in September.
Nice everyone’s back together.