Four Lords A-Fiddling

New Labour Unplugged have spotted a little lordly looting of the public coffers going on. Peers who say their main residence is outside London can claim an overnight allowance of ₤154.50 for staying in the capital on parliamentary business. A clutch of New Labour peers have paid their mortgages on so-called second homes at the expense of taxpayers.

Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde (the former trade union leader Brenda Dean) received ₤57,944 in overnight subsistence payments between 2001 -05 after claiming her main home was a waterfront pad in Falmouth while the £900,000 Islington town house she shares with her husband, former CBI press chief, Keith McDowall, was merely their second home.

Lord (David) Lipsey (otherwise known as Lipservice) for his unstinting loyalty to the New Labour cause is another whose ‘main home’ turns out to be a ₤250,000 farmhouse retreat in the backwaters of rural Wales while his £750,000 mock Queen Anne villa in Tooting (the area by which he is known, i.e. Lord Lipsey of Tooting Bec) is again just a ‘second home.’ The difference? ₤88,648 in allowances.

Despite a hectic London schedule Lord (Derry) Irvine of Lairg’s £1 million Westminster flat in fashionable Smith Square ( just yards from the House of Lords) also turns out not to be his ‘main’ home. At a cost of ₤39,123 to taxpayers this accolade goes to a six-bedroom house in the Scottish highlands that that he uses at Christmas and in the summer.

Tony’s first leader of the House of Lords after the 1997 General Election victory, Lord (Ivor) Richard of Ammanford is another who seems to spend more time at his second home than at his main residence. The latter is a remote bungalow on Dartmoor inherited by his wife. The second home, by contrast, is a four-story Georgian terraced house in Pratt Walk Kennington, convenient not just for the house of Lords but for Ivor’s legal practice and the couple’s jolly social lives. The difference in addresses is worth £65,138.

New Labour has promised to crack-down on benefits fraudsters, m’Lords should pay this benefit back, maybe jail time will teach ’em a lesson…

UPDATE: Errr, apparently this was front-page on the Mail on Sunday. Maybe the M o S editor will give me a plagiarism award. Naughty New Labour Unplugged for not giving a credit.

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