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Saturday, January 31, 2009


I note from yesterday's Guardian that the allegations made against four Labour peers concerning cash for amendments have had some consequences already. The paper reports that Lord Taylor of Blackburn, one of the peers at the centre of the claims, has lost his consultancy with the credit check company for which he allegedly boasted he had altered legislation:

Experian said it was "surprised" by the Labour peer's descriptions to undercover reporters of his role for the firm. "We have agreed that Lord Taylor will retire with immediate effect," a spokesman said.

Taylor is the second peer to lose a consultancy in the row over possible abuses of rules which allow members of the House of Lords to earn money outside their parliamentary work. Lord Truscott resigned from Landis+Gyr on Wednesday night.

Taylor's parting of company with Experian came as peers made a flurry of changes to the official register of Lords' interests, which lists paid and unpaid work and appointments that could be thought to affect their parliamentary work.

On Tuesday and Wednesday they made a total of 37 amendments to the register, more than twice the normal rate, with several declaring paid directorships, regular jobs and sponsored overseas visits months later than they should have done according to their own code. Normally only 20 to 40 changes are made in a whole week.

A fresh version of the list, which is usually updated online every seven days, was last night posted on the House of Lords website for the second time this week as officials strived to appear as transparent as possible.

This is a clear sign that self-regulation has not been working. The House of Lords needs to get its act in order. Alas I fear that will only be possible if proper accountablility is introduced into the second chamber. I know that it is a predictable view but direct elections really are the only way forward in my view.
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