Contact: Juliet Samuel (Research) - 0750 096 0931 Rejection of Lord Rennard Complaint Raises Concerns About Lords

' Expenses Anti-sleaze, pro-transparency group, The Sunlight Centre, last night had its complaint about Lord Rennard's expense claims for his second home rejected by the House of Lords' Clerk of the Parliaments' Office.

The case raises serious issues about House of Lords Office expense claims:

• Lords have to provide no proof of their meaningful attendance at the House. All
they have to do is "sign in" to claim an overnight allowance.

• There is no definition of a Lord's main home. This means that even if a Lord only • •
occasionally visits another house outside London, he can nonetheless designate it as his "main home". The procedure for deciding complaints occurs without scrutiny in the Clerk's office. The only evidence taken was "Lord Rennard's assurances." No transcript of Rennard's input, nor any supplementary evidence, has been offered to us. Lord Rennard admitting flipping the designation of his main residence.

The complaint and its rejection were based on the following issues:

• Despite Lord Rennard registering attendance for 129 days between 2007 and • •
2008, he spoke or voted just 31 times. At the time he was also working five days a week around the corner on Cowley Street. The Clerk tells us that Lord Rennard assured him he was nonetheless present during every one of those days and "active." This part of the complaint was therefore rejected. The Clerk revealed that, since designating a non-London address as his "main home" in 2007, Lord Rennard has spent only two weekends out of three there when Parliament is in session. During much of this time, he was employed five days a week in London at Liberal Democrat HQ. Nonetheless, the Clerk tells us that Lord Rennard's weekend visits to his non-London home in Eastbourne are sufficient to allow its designation as his "main home" and "in the absence of any definition of main address in the current guidance to the House of Lords’ Members Expenses Scheme"

Juliet Samuel, author of the Shadow Kelly Report 'Disinfecting Parliament' said: ''For the Clerk of the Parliaments' Office to use the loophole to dismiss this complaint by suggesting that no definition of a main home exists for the House of Lords highlights to

T : 020 7837 3312 F : 070 9201 2337 E : team@sunlight-cops.org.uk Albion Buildings, 1 Back Hill, London, EC1R 5EN
A not-for-profit company limited by guarantee, advocating political transparency and openness.

the public how inward looking the House of Lords expenses system has become and the only way forward is for a root-and-branch reform accompanied by full transparency of the House of Lords Expenses System. The Clerk seems to think that the Lords can continue to operate in a bubble apart from the views of voters. He had every opportunity to apply common sense rules or to trigger a wide-scale reform of Lords' expenses. Instead, the Lords protected one of its own and delivered a blow to fairness and freedom of information in this country. This case simply highlights what a moribund and flawed institution the House of Lords has become and how, as the upper house in our legislature, it is also one of the least transparent bodies in government." -EndsEnc : Sunlight Complaint here, Clerk's response here. NOTES TO EDITORS: •The Sunlight Centre is a non-partisan, not-for-profit company advocating political transparency and openness. •In February 2009 the Sunlight Centre for Open Politics reported the then Home Secretary Jacqui Smith to the Commission, triggering the investigation that would ultimately lead to her resigning from the Cabinet after a wave of public outrage surrounding her expenses claims. They are currently leading a private prosecution of the former Home Secretary.

T : 020 7837 3312 F : 070 9201 2337 E : team@sunlight-cops.org.uk Albion Buildings, 1 Back Hill, London, EC1R 5EN
A not-for-profit company limited by guarantee, advocating political transparency and openness.

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