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The Troublemaker – vermin in ermine expenses scam is still going strong

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Issue 2548
Money for nothing—the House of Lords
Money for nothing—the House of Lords (Pic: UK Parliament/Wiki)

Multimillionaire peers are claiming up to £40,000 a year in expenses for attending the House of Lords while making little or no contributions to debates, committees or questions.

The rules allow members to claim up to £300 a day for “attendance”.

The only requirement is that they show their faces in the chamber or a committee at some point while it is sitting.

Lord Paul, one of Britain’s richest men, was suspended seven years ago for an expenses violation.

He received £40,800 last year despite making no contributions in the chamber or on committees.

The total annual claims for the period November 2015 to October last year added up to £19.1 million.

Lord Evans of Watford, a Labour peer and publishing firm boss, claimed £24,300 for 83 days’ attendance.

But he made no contributions in debates or questions and voted on five bills.

Lord Carswell, a crossbencher based in Northern Ireland, claimed £7,800 for 29 days. But he did not vote or make any written or spoken contributions in the chamber.

He is chair of a house committee, but it conducted no business during the claim period.

Carswell also claimed £6,500 in travel expenses, including the airfare to and from Westminster of £551 for a single day’s attendance.

Lord Hanningfield, a former Tory peer, was jailed in 2011 for false accounting relating to his expenses and later suspended.

Our analysis found he claimed £3,300 for 11 days of attendance in 2015-16 when he contributed to no votes and only one debate—on education in prisons.

On average, members of the Lords made 41 spoken or written contributions in the chamber and racked up 19 days of voting during the 2015-16 sittings.

Among peers who claimed £40,000 and above, the average level of engagement was 141 contributions in debates or questions and 63 votes.

Bankers covered up other bankers’ fraud

Executives at one of Britain’s biggest banks “concealed” an estimated £1 billion fraud for nine years, according to a secret report.

The scam at Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS), was suppressed at the height of the financial crisis in 2008.

That’s according to a report by a senior employee at Lloyds, which merged with HBOS.

Leaked internal emails reveal that senior executives knew at the time that bankers at its branch in Reading had committed a “fraud” but were anxious “not to disclose” the affair.

Lloyds has claimed that it “could not determine” whether anything criminal had occurred until the trial that led to the jailing in February of two of its former bankers and four consultants.

The fraud began in 2003 when Lynden Scourfield, a senior HBOS banker, forced firms that needed to borrow money to use a consultancy firm led by his associate, David Mills.

The cash was siphoned off in fees by Mills and three others, including his wife.

Spooks looking to keep internal exile

MI5 wants to extend draconian curbs on three terrorism suspects.

The three men remain free, but were placed under anti-terrorism controls last summer.

The measures, known as TPIMs (terrorism prevention and investigation measures) were a wheeze brought in by Theresa May.

The men have been relocated outside London, barred from meeting certain people and banned from using the internet.

At least one is not allowed to withdrawmore than £75 a week and has had his passport cancelled.

Lawyers for the three men, who are among seven people subject to TPIMs, are seeking to challenge the orders.

The three men, who cannot be named for legal reasons, have been linked by the spooks to the banned Al-Muhajiroun group.

Their lawyers argue that this is and has had a detrimental impact on the men’s young families.

The three men deny any involvement in terrorism.

Champagne pints for all

Simon Heffer is the best British journalism has to offer. He wrote an incoherent book about grammar and got Boris Johnson to take the blame when he libelled Liverpool people for “an excessive predilection for welfarism”.

Heffer is excited about leaving the European Union, but still angry.

He wrote, “We have been forced on to the Celsius temperature scale, which is less precise than Fahrenheit; we can’t buy groceries in pounds and ounces, or petrol in gallons, or wallpaper in yards, even though these measurements are second nature to most of us.

“Laws criminalising imperial measures must be repealed. Pol Roger has announced that it will once more sell champagne in Churchill’s favourite pint measure: British companies must now follow where a French one has led.”

Poor spending to stay in debt

THE poorest households are spending £92 a month more than they earn, figures suggest.

The lowest-earning fifth of homes had an average £178 a week income in February.

But after tax, bills and living costs they were in the red.

Their spending power has fallen by 18 percent since last year.

By contrast the richest 20 percent had a weekly income of £1,821 and £688 left over, 2 percent more than a year ago.

The Daily Mail heralded a “2.4bn boost for our schools” on Monday of this week. It might sound good news to Troublemaker readers nervous about the scale of Tory cuts to school funding.

Unfortunately it isn’t a boost at all, as education secretary Justine Greening confirmed that none of the cash was new money. Some of it will be squandered on expanding nine grammar schools.

GOVERNMENT scheme Help-to-Buy offers a loan, guaranteed by the state, of

20 percent of a property’s value— rising to 40 percent in London.

But figures show almost 4,000 applicants earning more than £100,000 a year have used it. And more than half said they didn’t need the loan to buy a house.

Figure it out

1,051 – Children police have drawn Tasers on or fired Tasers at in 2014 and 2015

12 – The age of the youngest child Tasered

9 – The age of the youngest child threatened with a Taser

185 – The Met recorded the highest frequency for using Tasers on children

The things they say

‘I do support a second referendum. Richard Branson says so, Tony Blair says so.’

Extremely wealthy hedge fund boss Martin Sorrell makes a case for Remain in the nominally left wing New Statesman magazine

‘I can see no harm in reminding them what kind of people we are’

Excited Tory Michael Howard calls for war with Spain

‘Britain’s Navy is ‘far weaker’ than it was during the Falklands but could still ‘cripple’ Spain.’

Daily Telegraph headline writers go a bit weak at the prospect of Howard’s war

‘Now Nicola Sturgeon has gone further by showing off her toes’

The Daily Mail gets excited about seeing a politician’s feet

‘Fair to taxpayers’

Theresa May on what’s good about her government’s assault on benefits

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