Two remarkable and noteworthy reports on proceedings in the House of Lords on Monday of this week! The first has this incredibly offensive suggestion:
As peers debated the plans on 27 June 2011, former Liberal Party leader Lord Steel of Aikwood led calls for retiring peers to be offered up to £30,000 tax-free to resign from the House.
He told peers that this would amount to “less than the annual attendance payments for those who come to this House, say, 75% of the time”.
The second which is lifted straight from Hansard, makes even more shattering reading for the previously uninformed, the details spelled out by Lord Pearson:
The first thing I want to do, and it is not much fun, is to recall what I said at the start of my Second Reading speech on 22 March and now to regret that noble Lords in receipt of a forfeitable EU pension, with one honourable exception in the shape of the noble Lord, Lord Williamson, did not declare that interest during our debates. As I said at Second Reading, it is not helpful to members of the public or those who read our debates if they are not told of noble Lords’ past experience of the subject under debate or where those noble Lords are coming from. That omission skews the whole tone and understanding of our debates, quite apart from anything else.
I think I got as far as saying that three amendments were carried against this Bill which together emasculate it entirely and deny the British people any chance of a meaningful referendum on our relationship with the failing project of European integration, which they do not like.
The point I now want to make about those amendments is that they were largely proposed by noble Lords in receipt of a forfeitable EU pension, most of them undeclared, and they were all carried by the votes of noble Lords who did not declare their interest. I can but suggest that the Privileges Committee revisits this subject before the Bill returns from the Commons and does the obvious thing.
The Coalition Government is reported to be returning to the vexed question of reforming Britain’s Upper Legislative Chamber. Asset stripping and direct compensation to the shattered taxpayers for the sort of obscene payments referred to above, seems far more acceptable as an early priority.