But just now a Tory peer* was sentenced to 12 months in jail for falsely filing for travel and overnight subsistence: Lord Taylor of Warwick.
(His last written question was to ask, according to the TheyWorkForYou website, whether the government has plans to give prisoners the vote.)
The peer had told the Lords’ members’ expenses office that his main residence was a house in Oxford, when in fact he lived in west London. The peer never stayed in and only rarely visited the Oxford property, which was owned by his half-nephew’s partner, and so he was not entitled to claim money for travelling from there to London and staying overnight in the capital.
Lord Taylor, of Lynwood Road, Ealing, was convicted in January of six counts of false accounting for making £11,277.80-worth of fraudulent claims between March 2006 and October 2007.
The peer told his trial that all he needed was a “family connection” to a property to call it a main residence on his claim forms.
Lord Taylor, who became the first black Conservative peer when he took his seat in the House of Lords in 1996, is set to remain a member of the Upper House despite his conviction. That is because there is currently no way of removing them other than passing an Act of Parliament.
A House of Lords spokeswoman said Lord Taylor had repaid the money he wrongly claimed.
Another Conservative peer, Lord Hanningfield** will be sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court next month after he was found guilty last week of fraudulently claiming nearly £14,000 in his Lords expenses.
UPDATE: His lawyers have sent me a statement saying: “Lord Taylor is distraught with the sentence but fully accepts the Court’s decision. Upon his release he will continue to serve the public, as he has done for the past 20 years, with the charitable organisations he has worked for.”
* Former Tory peer, I’m reminded. ** Also former Tory peer.