Expenses peer still can't resign

Tory peer charged over his expenses can't leave the Lords.

We were expecting at least three parliamentarians to be charged over their expenses this morning and in the event four have been. Three Labour MPs -- David Chaytor, Jim Devine, Elliot Morley -- and the Tory peer Lord Hanningfield have been charged with false accounting.

Chaytor, Devine and Morley were all banned from seeking re-election by Labour's "star chamber". Hanningfield has resigned his position as a frontbench business spokesman in the Lords and has had the Conservative whip withdrawn. But he can't resign from the Lords even if he wants to.

Jack Straw's Constitutional Reform Bill, which will allow peers to resign their seats voluntarily, is currently at committee stage. The bill will also introduce rules allowing peers convicted of a criminal offence to be expelled from the House.

At the moment the maximum penalty available to the Lords is to suspend peers until the end of the current parliamentary session. Last year Lords Taylor and Truscott became the first peers to be suspended since 1642 following their involvement in the "cash for amendments" affair.

 

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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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LISTEN: Boris Johnson has a meltdown in car crash interview on the Queen’s Speech

“Hang on a second…errr…I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

“Hang on a second,” Boris Johnson sighed. On air, you could hear the desperate rustling of his briefing notes (probably a crumpled Waitrose receipt with “crikey” written on it) and him burbling for an answer.

Over and over again, on issues of racism, working-class inequality, educational opportunity, mental healthcare and housing, the Foreign Secretary failed to answer questions about the content of his own government’s Queen’s Speech, and how it fails to tackle “burning injustices” (in Theresa May’s words).

With each new question, he floundered more – to the extent that BBC Radio 4 PM’s presenter Eddie Mair snapped: “It’s not a Two Ronnies sketch; you can’t answer the question before last.”

But why read your soon-to-be predecessor’s Queen’s Speech when you’re busy planning your own, eh?

Your mole isn’t particularly surprised at this poor performance. Throughout the election campaign, Tory politicians – particularly cabinet secretaries – gave interview after interview riddled with gaffes.

These performances were somewhat overlooked by a political world set on humiliating shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, who has been struggling with ill health. Perhaps if commentators had less of an anti-Abbott agenda – and noticed the car crash performances the Tories were repeatedly giving and getting away with it – the election result would have been less of a surprise.

I'm a mole, innit.

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