Sunday, September 20, 2009

Baroness Scotland Faces Questions on Three Fronts

When the Prime Minister expressed his full confidence in Baroness Scotland, you could tell she was on the political equivalent of death row. Today she has taken a further step towards political oblivion. First there is the revelation that her ex Housekeeper's flat has been raided by the Border Agency. Secondly, she has been unable to provide copies of the papers she should have copied under the very legislation which she, herself, took through Parliament. She cannot even plead ignorance as a defence. But thirdly, there is the revelation in the Sunday Times that she has claimed £170,000 of London living allowances which she is clearly not entitled to under the rules. You can only claim it if you live outside London, yet she has listed her London home as her main home since 2001.

Toast.

UPDATE: And a second Labour Peer, Childrens' Minister Baroness Morgan (you know, the one who Humphrys roasted on Today over the paedo register) has been claiming £140,000 because she lists a holiday cottage as her main residence. Toast with butter.

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think I see political interference in the Judicial system all the time. Why does it seem to take an age for any action or decision, if there is some political connotation to the offence. Why no action against Uddin, or the other Lords and Baronesses come to that. The MPs fraudulent mortgage claims. That chap Abrahams was not prosecuted, how did that happen?

It happens too often to be a coincidence!

Pete-s

Neil A said...

I have to say that this all feels a little like the "Back to Basics" debacle the Tories suffered in the 1990s. To horribly conflate cliches, it is really dumb to throw stones without looking in your closet to see whether your skeletons have any sins....

Ed the Shred said...

As soon as politicians move from a sense of entitlement to a sense of duty the sooner this country can start rebuilding itself.

How dare these has-beens enrich themselves with my money.

Anonymous said...

http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts1991/ukpga_19910005_en_1#l1g5

Where does the act say you have to live outside London to be paid the £38K? It says the amount is linked to the amount paid to backbench peers who live outside the capital, but that's all.

The Sunday Times have screwed up big time.

Iain Dale said...

Not at all. Your main residence has to be outside London.

Plenty said...

Where's the strawberry jam?

Neil A said...

It sounds very, very similar to the stunts MPs were pulling with their home designations. All "technically within the rules" but utterly disingenuous nonetheless. The difference being that we can't vote GOATS out of office like we can MPs. Well, other than throwing out their party political bosses in the Commons.

Bardirect said...

She cannot resign or be sacked.

The only person eligible to replace her as Attorney general would seem to be David "Mastermind" Lammy.

Anonymous said...

But where in the law does it say that, Iain? It doesn't.

It says that Lords ministers will get paid X amount and that future increases in that amount will be based on the sum paid to peers whose primary residence is outside London.

NOWHERE in the act does it say a minister has to have main residence outside London, look at the link I posted above.

The Sunday Times and Guido have a Houses of Parliament fact sheet that says otherwise, but the link here is to the actual LAW, which last time I checked was more important.

Anonymous said...

Enoch Powell!
Enoch Powell!
Dan Hannan used the word "exotic".
Enoch Powell!
Racism!
Racism!
Iain Dale!
Racism!
Dan Hannan!
Racism! Racism! Racism!
Enoch Dale!

Silent Hunter said...

So can we PLEASE have the General Election soon.

I'm not sure how much more of these criminals in power I can take before I go round to my local Labour Party HQ and put a brick through the window.

Anonymous said...

The Act states an allowance is available to cover expenses incurred "in staying overnight away from his main or only residence".

It cannot, therefore, be applicable to anyone who stays in their main residence. If your main residence is in London and you stay there every night, you cannot claim an allowance that's meant to cover expenses incurred while staying away from your main residence.

What is difficult or confusing about this?

LurkingBlackHat said...

I'll think you find after investigation she will be found to have done nothing wrong.

After all under Labour laws are for other people.

Unsworth said...

Humphrys, 'roasting'?

How very unpleasant.

Then again, maybe she likes that sort of thing.

Grumpy Old Sod said...

I like the smell of toast in the morning...

Jimmy said...

It's weaker than that. The factsheet does refer to a second home in London, but there's no indication that the expression is intended as a term of art nor does context appear to require it. But the most breathtaking aspect of this is that the right having screamed to the rafters about reporting the illegal maid to the Border Agency is now affecting concern that the hapless woman has had a visit. What did you think was going to happen?

Victor, NW Kent said...

There is hardly any point in being a Labour Peer unless you can fill your pockets. It is called patronage. It is a reward for apparatchiks.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 4:54

Where, may I ask, did you get your LLB? I ask this because, given the absolute tone of your declarations, I know that you would never set yourself up as an expert on statutes without having first acquired a full legal education.

So, where was your LLB? And did you complete your DipPL? Are you qualified for the Bar?

Jimmy said...

"I know that you would never set yourself up as an expert on statutes without having first acquired a full legal education."

Why not? Most people are prepared to base their posts on something they saw in the Daily Mail. At least he appears to have read the statute.

Anonymous said...

I wish your words were true, however, it's not gonna happen. The BBC spin everything, Sky have genuine ability to reprot it as it is but oddly choose not to.

The public juts are used to letting it go on, and we all bitch about it on blogs.

She will get away with it. Plain and simple.

subrosa said...

At long last Iain. I posted about Baroness Morgan before 9am today.

Of course you're busy drifting round these talkshops this month. :)

Jess The Dog said...

My first reaction, on hearing of the Borders Agency raid, was to wonder if the hapless domestic's documents would end up being copied retrospectively.

I've got a FOI request in to the Borders Agency and DPP requesting details of total numbers of fines, prosecutions and instances of "valid defences".

john miller said...

Except of course they are both peers.

They will carry on travelling first class on the gravy train.

Were they are sacked as ministers, the Lords have established (via Lord Taylor and Lord Truscott) that even if you blatantly accept bribes, the worst penalty is six months in the sin bin.

Not even a real sending off.

john miller said...

Jimmy and Anonymous.

She used her first line of defence as the Act itself, without mentioning that it had been amended by statutory instrument.

Then, of course, was the amazing revelation that she had made the claim without nominating her main residence, although she admitted that she had nominated her London house as her main residence for other purposes. This indicated that she was aware that what she had done was wrong, but hey, it wasn't her fault.

At least that was what I read in the sports pages of Sunday Sport.

Anonymous said...

Most people are prepared to base their posts on something they saw in the Daily Mail.

Straw man that has no relevance to anything I or anyone else said.

At least he appears to have read the statute.

The point is not whether he read it. The point is whether he comes close to being qualified to interpret it and the answer to that is a resounding NO.

He is advancing a reading of the text that is decontextualised, uninformed and borders either on a deliberate attempt to mislead (presumably for partisan reasons) or on a simply amazing degree of ignorance.

It is legitimate to ask someone, who comes into a public sphere and declares himself to be the final authority on the interpretation of a statute, exactly what his qualifications are.

Flemingcrag said...

This Government obsessed in passing laws, some 3500 entries onto the Statutes book since it came to power in 1997.

Whislt it was busy on these, most of which attack our civil liberties, the Country was going bankrupt. The pinnacle of this obsession was the time and effort put into trying to get 42 days detention, as the financial sector went into complete meltdown, starting with Northern Rock.

Most of them are bad laws, the one that Baroness Scotland has fallen foul of certainly is, this does not excuse her, after all she pushed it through the Lords. Therein lies the answer as to why most of them are bad laws, they were all pushed through by the force of the "three line whips".

Because it is a bad law any charges brought under it should be easy to rebut, a good lawyer for the Baroness paid for at our expense, should see her get off SCOT free.

denverthen said...

Iain Dale is back in prickly form. Thank gawd for that! It's nice to see some serious political barb from someone who is, after all, the Tories' (and so my) opening batsman.

Maybe there is hope yet for Britain. Well, just maybe.

Jimmy said...

"She used her first line of defence as the Act itself, without mentioning that it had been amended by statutory instrument."

What statutory instrument? Statutory instruments do not generally amend acts.

Jimmy said...

"It is legitimate to ask someone, who comes into a public sphere and declares himself to be the final authority on the interpretation of a statute, exactly what his qualifications are."

Well if someone comes on claiming to be the House of Lords then that will be an excellent point.

Not A Lawyer said...

Looks like the
Cabinet Office agree with your anonymous correspondent.

But then what could they possibly know about it, eh?

Anonymous said...

Questions on three fronts? Come off it Iain, you know and I know and the whole world knows that she will not face any questions on any front whatsoever. She might be reshuffled soon but that will be the end of it? Have you forgotten which country you inhabit?

Any colour but brown said...

"Anonymous @ 4:15 said...
http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts1991/ukpga_19910005_en_1#l1g5"

What have salaries and pensions got to do with allowances?

"Where does the act say you have to live outside London to be paid the £38K? It says the amount is linked to the amount paid to backbench peers who live outside the capital, but that's all."

1st year primary school question: "What is the capital of England?"

"The Sunday Times have screwed up big time."

No, sir, you did.

DespairingLiberal said...

Not to mention the sly, smug way that La Beckett defended the grasping Baroness on Radio 4 Any Questions over the weekend. Did anyone else hear it? Enough to sour your whole weekend.

Really amazing the way these New Lab apparatchiks have done so well for themselves in the coinage department with hardly a word of criticism from a toadying meejah until recently. I wonder why that was?

I suppose some well-placed Tories will be positively wetting themselves with excitement right now at the thought of all the moolah they will gain access to in the near future - perhaps some of those Quango-deletion schemes will not mature once it is realised that they serve as excellent locations for Gentlepersons of an Emolumentary Disposition to be placed into!

Stand by for a rash of new barons and baronesses when Ordinary Dave sweeps into office!

The Original Anonymous said...

Re: Any Colour But Brown.

1) The allowance in question was created by the Ministerial and Other Pensions and Salaries Act 1991. That's why I linked to it.

2) You've obviously misunderstood my original point - the amount of money paid to Lords Ministers is linked to the amount claimed by backbench peers who live outside London. However, the law (introduced by John Major's government) does not say that ministers have to live outside London to receive it. All this has been confirmed by the Cabinet Office: http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/newsroom/news_stories/090920-lordsoffice-allowance.aspx

So the Sunday Times have screwed up - they based their story on the idea that you can only get paid the allowance if you live outside London, when the law says otherwise.