I taught the Lords to fiddle

It's unfortunate that the three Labour peers suspended for expenses transgressions are all of Asian origin. It has led to angry accusations that there is a racist component to the fingering of the noble creative accountants.

It must be difficult for New Statesman subscribers to work out the politically correct response to the evidence that these members had their mitts in the till. Every left-leaning fibre in your bodies is screaming out to excuse them, while knowing that to forgive their trespasses simply because they are not white and Anglo-Saxon is patronising and, yes, racist. Does your head hurt?

Yet I know there is no connection between the culprits' ethnicity and their cupidity. You see, early last year I ran a secret seminar for peers of the realm, concerned that their attendance allowances were lagging far behind what they could earn as non-executive directors if they were good enough to get on the boards of public companies. The event was extremely well attended, despite the £5,000 fee, payable in cash (no new notes or continuous serial numbers).

At my seminar, I instructed the class in creative claiming, living in two places at once and hiring deceased relatives. So far, so good. But then I fear the final session - Covering One's Tracks - may have employed an excess of technical language, and that students not born and educated
in this country might have been at a disadvantage. I also recall there was something of a rush for the exit before the end of the last session as the older peers realised that if they didn't leave before the beginning of the rush hour they wouldn't be able to use their pensioner's bus passes.

As a result of the expenses scandal, my Honourable former fag, the PM, has asked me to chair a commission into reform of the House of Lords, for it is clear that this mixture of hereditary and life peers is fatally discredited.

When did the rot set in? Was it in 1958, when life peers were introduced? Was it 1918, when Lloyd George sold titles to raise funds? No, I contend it was in 1688, when parliament ejected James II and invited William III over from Holland. From that day forth, the power of our hereditary rulers was curtailed and we were set upon the slippery slope that led to Lord Paul claiming as his main residence a hotel room he could not find without directions.

The solution is clear: the constitutional castration of the Commons and the relocation of power to a House of Lords cleansed of life peers. You may think this a selfless proposal; after all, am I not a life peer? Let me reassure you. If you watch the Christmas special of Who Do You Think You Are?, you will see my delight when I learn that the B'Stards are the direct descendants of randy Edward VII. I'm at least a marquess, and I may be heir to the throne.

As told to Marks and Gran

This article first appeared in the 08 November 2010 issue of the New Statesman, Israel divided