11 May 2009

Life still means life in the House of Lords

ErmineAmid the furore in which MPs from all parties appeared to abuse the Commons expenses rules without actually breaking them (see my posting yesterday), let us not forget the House of Lords.

Who remembers that four of their lordships were subject to a newspaper sting reported in January this year, which alleged they were prepared to cash in return for changing laws? Four peers were named in the sting: Lords Truscott, Taylor, Snape and Moonie.

Behind closed doors and away from the public gaze, the four have been subject to an inquiry chaired by the former lord chancellor, Lord Derry Irvine (himself of the expensive wallpaper and loo refurbishment fiasco).


Two sources within their lordships’ house tell me that two of the above peers have been cleared by this process and two, Lords Taylor and Truscott, found guilty of misconduct.

It should be said that all four peers have denied wrongdoing and have thus far declined to comment. But there is now a debate going on amongst their lordships as to whether the peers have the power to suspend the guilty at all.

The idea of defenestrating or disrobing these characters would seem to be out of the question.

Is it really possible that politicians who so breach public trust that they are apparently prepared to take cash to change laws will be permitted to remain part of the UK‘s “democratic legislature”?

Unlike prison, in the Lords life means life. Many will interpret the message from the Lords as: “We are beyond the reach of the law.” It is a message which appears to be ringing ever louder in the house below.



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