By Maximilian Clarke
The House of Lords House Committee has today recommended that Members of the House of Lords who are found to have wrongly claimed money under the system of financial support for Members should not be allowed to return from suspension until all outstanding amounts owed have been repaid.
The report recommends that, if a suspended Member has not repaid money owed by one month before their suspension is due to end, the Chairman of Committees should move a motion to suspend the Member until the debt has been repaid or until the end of the current Parliament, whichever is sooner.
If a debt remains outstanding at the start of the following Parliament, the Chairman of Committees should ask the House to initiate a further suspension. This is necessary as the House of Lords does not have the power to suspend a Member beyond the end of the current Parliament.
The Committee have put forward the recommendation to assist the Clerk of the Parliaments in his responsibility to secure the repayment of wrongly claimed money. In doing so the Committee state that debt recovery through the courts is not practical as the court may well decline jurisdiction as the debt arises from proceedings of a parliamentary committee.
The House Committee rejected options that would have allowed a Member to forgo all or part of their attendance allowance to repay an outstanding debt, or to deny attendance allowance completely but allow the Member to participate in the work of the House.
The Motion to agree the report of the House Committee will be debated in the Lords on Tuesday 20 December.
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