Stop shameful practice says Chris Moncrieff
n A number of lazy, greedy and covetous members of the House of Lords are indulging in what is no less than highway robbery of taxpayers' hard-earned cash.
A new report shows that 16 of them – who are supposed to be helping run the country – are instead running off with the £300-a-day attendance allowance, without making a single contribution to the vital work of the Upper Chamber.
Amazingly, their shameful conduct is well within the rules. In the eyes of those who manage the House of Lords, they have done nothing wrong.
It’s a scandal that should be addressed immediately. My suspicion, however, is that it will linger on, enabling these people to continue to trouser large sums of money for doing absolutely nothing.
The report shows no fewer than 16 peers have claimed over a given period some £400,000 – without making a speech, tabling any questions, or sitting on one of the committees. All they need to do is to show their face in the building, and once satisfied that their presence has been ‘clocked’ by the relevant clerk, they can simply depart and wait for the cash.
Admittedly it is a ludicrously lax arrangement, but even so, you would not expect our legislators to behave in this shameful manner. Have they learned nothing from the 2009 MPs’ expenses scandal in the Commons? It is surely a simple enough matter for rules to be tightened to put a stop to this purloining of public money.
n Hanky-panky in the House of Commons? Or rumpy-pumpy as the late great Lord (Denis) Healey would have preferred to put it?
The latest ‘disclosures’ have sent shockwaves through Westminster, causing much wringing of hands and anguished cries of disapproval.
I cannot think why – because it has been going on for years. Listen to what former Tory MP Edwina Currie (and she should know) had to say some time ago: “There is an inexhaustible supply. No one needs to pay for sex. It is stalking the corridors of power, hitching up its skirt, delighted to be asked. And wives who try to forget it are nuts.”
Here are just a few of the examples: Right-wing Tory MP Sir Ronald Bell reportedly actually expired while romping with his secretary in his Commons office. The late Labour MP Ron Brown took a shower in the Commons with someone who caught his eye.
And there was Edwina Currie and John Major, a master-class in keeping an affair secret for so long, and Lord (Paddy) Ashdown’s fling with his secretary, to mention but a few.
Westminster’s equivalent to the ‘mile high club’ is to have had ‘it’ on the Woolsack in the House of Lords. It is not as comfortable as it may sound because it is stuffed with horsehair. I know of no one who has achieved this, but then you would never boast about it for fear of being expelled from the premises.
n The UK Brexit team and their Brussels equivalent are tying themselves into ever more complex Gordian knots, as they continue to do battle over the UK's decision to quit the EU.
The Brussels negotiators are hell-bent on fining the UK a vast sum of money over the decision to quit. This is almost certainly meant as a deterrent to any other member-state considering leaving.
But why should we pay even a penny for doing something which is entirely within our rights to do?
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister still has to contend with rebellious Tory Remainers, who still refuse to accept the referendum result, even though the arch Europhile Kenneth Clarke admits it now seems inevitable that the UK will leave.