Another oh dear….

On Thursday, The Daily Telegraph carried a story on peers’ expenses.  You can read the story here.  Have a look at it and see if you can identify why it merits an ‘oh dear’ award.   A lordly commendation awaits the first reader to identify the reason.

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About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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15 Responses to Another oh dear….

  1. It would seem to me that much of this is over the increase of the number of peers. Is it not a good thing that more of the peers are showing up? This does seem a much to do about nothing.

    • Lord Norton says:

      FatherPeterPreble: I rather agree with your assessment. The effect of the change in the expense regime has largely been cost neutral – while proving simpler to administer and less easy to manipulate – with the increase being the result of more peers being created and turning up for sittings of the House. However, that is not the reason for giving it an ‘oh dear’ award – more a case for a ‘sigh’ award.

  2. tory boy says:

    It shows the House in session with the Law Lords who have since moved over to the Supreme Court. The lords does not sit as a court anymore it only sits as a legislature.

    • Lord Norton says:

      tory boy: It is indeed the law lords delivering judgments. As you say, they have now moved to the Supreme Court. Even if they had not moved, can you think why it would still be an inappropriate picture?

      • Is it because Law Lords were subject to a different system of allowances/expenses? They could only claim for travel expenses and received salaries paid out of Consolidated Fund not the House of Lords’ funds. They were entitled to claim only for Judicial work and not for sittings of the Chamber.

      • Lord Norton says:

        Darren Shirley: It is indeed. A different regime applied to the Law Lords, so even if they were still entitled to sit, the picture would be irrelevant to the story.

        The worrying thing is that it is rare for a newspaper to carry an appropriate picture when discussing the House of Lords. Most carry a picture of the State Opening of Parliament. On one occasion, The Times carried a picture of men in robes. They were judges – the wearing of wigs was a bit of a give-away – and nothing to do with the Lords!

      • Frank W. Summers III says:

        Lord Norton,
        my long comment below should have been here….

    • ladytizzy says:

      Where is the seating for the crossbenchers?

      • Lord Norton says:

        ladytizzy: Well spotted – removed to accommodate the legal material. The benches in the chamber are not fixed to the floor, so can be moved.

    • Frank W. Summers III says:

      Lord Norton,

      I haven’t commented here for a variety of reasons– however, here I go:
      It is not unusual to have picture of a sea lion for a story about a seal if only part of the animal is showing, flames from an old fire, stock photos that mislead as to a politicians age, whereabouts or passion — all abound. All of these things occur frequently in many media around the world. Each of us tend to notice what affects us. I have mixed feelings about all this, I often (not nearly always took photos with pieces I wrote . Otherwise, I had to work with photogs or did without.I cannot remember more than one instance of a questionable extraneous photo being used in conjuction with my own work. As assistant editor I tried to minimize them also but the temptation is great. Personally, I think it is good that you complain but it is part of a very large problem…
      Small time television around the world has a far worse record than newspapers/ I would say small TV outfits probably tresspass in this regard at a rate of ten to one as a whole. All of this pales compared to webcasts of various kinds. In these cases the need to show something exceeds all other forces shaping decisions.

  3. tory boy says:

    When were handrails put in the chamber? The BBC Parliament programme “peer pressure” in which you feature shows handrails in use for members to get to the back benches.

  4. ladytizzy says:

    “…flat rate of £300 per day, or £150 per half day.” The November guide for Lords’ allowances* does not mention half day allowances – are they a recognised informal arrangement?

    “…the Coalition’s rush to appoint new peers.” This is a bit unfair. Mr Brown left a lengthy list of Labour names for the new PM’s consideration (around half being ex-MPs), and Mr Blair created well over 100 new peers in his first year, representing c. a third of all peers created during his tenure.**

    * http://www.parliament.uk/documents/lords-finance-office/2010/guide-to-financial-support-for-members-2010.pdf
    ** http://www.parliament.uk/briefingpapers/commons/lib/research/briefings/snpc-05867.pdf

    • Lord Norton says:

      ladytizzy: The ‘half-‘day’ allowance is included in the guide, but referred to as the reduced rate (para. 41.2). Peers who attend can opt for either the full rate or the reduced rate.

  5. Frank W. Summers III says:

    Lord Norton,
    I gather that there are no hours in the accountancy. I worked in a much less exalted position in a similar system for about four years. In time a crisis was caused by hurricanes which involved consolidations, extra days of work and trimming days to the minimum on the other side of my podium. The result was that I worked eleven days each week at this job and had Sunday off. I always feel that this is a really rare achievement and so try to feel more proud of it than I am able to normally. Watch out history may yet be made — the per diem system is not so old as Lords is in Westminster…

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