I’m not sure why, but the conviction and imprisonment of Lord Taylor has made me uncomfortable. He is obviously NOT a crook and if we accept that Westminster expenses fiddling was a pretty ancient sport, his prosecution seems a bit extreme. Deep-down we also perceive that many of Their Lordships have got away with it.
At £65K, our MPs are underpaid and I cannot think of a worse honour than becoming a Lord on a daily attendance allowance of £300 per day. If those incomes are annualised the actual hourly rates are probably somewhere approaching the minimum wage.
The “forced” demographic profile of both Houses is another aspect of modern government which is beginning to look more and more ‘token’ and more decorative than practical. Why? After many years of the “Let’s get some Johny Foreigners and coloureds in”policy, ethnic minorities continue to be under-represented at senior political level. It’s a national disgrace.
However, that does NOT appear to be the case as far as Lords who have been ‘busted’ in the expenses scandal. That is a list where minority groups are over-represented.
The whole expenses affair (Lords and Commons) is symptomatic of the British unaccomodating and obdurate attitude towards money and commerce.
THAT’S why we are unable to turn the occasional blind eye and why we continue to elect governments which allow their drumbeat to be set by the media.
THAT’S why we failed in our World Cup bid and that’s why we’re still moaning about Sepp Blatter’s election as President of FIFA.
THAT’S why we will never again win the Eurovision Song Contest.
THAT’S why appearances continue to matter more than pragmatism and success.
THAT’S why enjoy national self-flagellation and the ruining of public servants’ careers because ‘it’s the right thing to do’. (Is it right to break an individuals career for £15K?)
Admittedly, the Brits do not have that Jewish, Middle Eastern, or even Far Eastern ‘merchant mentality’ in which the goal is the deal and the deal is the goal, where financial ‘flexibility’ or ‘an understanding’ wins the day.
NOT a po-faced inflexibility, commercial rigor mortis and constant accusation of dishonesty, misappropriation and banditry in others.
We are Victorians who have yet to awaken. Until then, the United Kingdom will move from having been a country which 100 years ago made things happen to a country which will soon be wondering what happened.
Here is the list of the Lords who were busted (note the ‘ethnics’):
Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe, LABOUR
Yorkshireman Clive Brooke pocketed more than £140,000 of overnight subsistence allowance in seven years by claiming for his mortgage-free house in Brighton instead of his £700,000 townhouse in Battersea, South London.
Viscount Falkland, LIB DEM
Hereditary peer Lucius Edward William Plantagenet Cary registered a two-bed house owned by his wife’s aunt near Maidstone in Kent as his main residence, paid no rent but spent most of his time at £500,000 townhouse in Clapham, South London.
Lord Rosser, LABOUR
Former union man Richard Andrew Rosser received £50,000 in overnight subsistence allowances since buying a flat in Chippenham, Wiltshire, in 2007 and ‘flipping’ his main residence from £750,000 four-bedroom home in Uxbridge, West London.
Baroness Neuberger, LABOUR
Rabbi Julia Babette Sarah Neuberger claimed £80,000 overnight subsistence allowances in five years by designating £237,000 flat in Leamington Spa instead of family’s £2.3million townhouse in Regent’s Park, central London.
Lord Taylor of Warwick, TORY
John David Becket Taylor, who is of Jamaican extraction, claimed £70,000 over six years by saying his main residence was his dead mother’s house in Solihull – which had been sold – then his nephew’s friend’s house in Oxford, all while living in family home in Ealing, West London.
Baroness Goudie of Roundwood, LABOUR
Mary Teresa Goudie claimed £150,000 over eight years by saying her main residence is a Glasgow flat she bought for £200,000 in 2001, not the £1.5million mews house in Belgravia she shares with her husband.
Lord Paul, LABOUR
Indian-born Swraj Paul claimed £38,000 in less than two years by telling the Lords his main residence was the one-bed manager’s flat attached to a hotel owned by one of his companies in Chesterton, Oxfordshire, not his central London family home.
Lord Sheldon, LABOUR
Robert Edward Sheldon Claimed £130,000 over six years whilst owning a £1.3million mortgage-free flat in central London, he told authorities his main residence was a house in Manchester, which he in fact gave to his son in 2003.
Lord Bhatia, LABOUR
Tanzanian-born Amirali Alibhai “Amir” Bhatia claimed more than £20,000 in two years by flipping main residence from £1.5 million family home in south London to a two-bed rented flat in Reigate, Surrey, occupied by his brother.
Lord Clarke of Hampstead, LABOUR
Former union man Anthony James Clarke claimed up to £18,000 a year despite often staying with friends for free or going back to his home in St Albans, Hertfordshire.
Baroness Uddin, LABOUR
Bandladesh-born Manzila Pola Uddin claimed £125,000 between 2005 and 2009, second home allowance on her London property, claiming that she lived in Maudstone.
Lord Hanningfield, Conservative
Paul Edward Winston White has been found guilty of fiddling his House of Lords expenses and will be sentenced within six weeks.