Motion to Agree
That the Report from the Select Committee on the conduct of Lord Bassam of Brighton (1st Report, HL Paper 126) be agreed to.
My Lords, this report addresses the conduct of the noble Lord, Lord Bassam of Brighton, who referred himself to the independent Commissioner for Standards following media allegations that he had wrongly claimed the Lords’ travel allowance, paid by the House, and the Lords’ officeholder’s allowance, paid by the Cabinet Office.
The commissioner found that the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, should have used the officeholder’s allowance to cover some of his daily travel costs and therefore should not have claimed as much in Lords’ travel allowances as he did. In so claiming, the noble Lord breached provisions in the House of Lords Code of Conduct. The commissioner found that there was a lack of clarity and guidance surrounding the relationship between the Lords’ officeholder’s allowance and the Lords’ travel allowance. She concluded that although the noble Lord broke the Code of Conduct by making the claims, he did so mistakenly, not dishonestly, and therefore did not breach provisions requiring Members to act on their personal honour.
In its report, the Privileges and Conduct Committee recommends that the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, should repay £15,737 in overclaimed travel allowance. The noble Lord has written to the chair of the sub-committee to apologise and arrangements have been made for the money to be repaid. The Committee for Privileges and Conduct has sought reassurance that guidance will be clarified and procedures altered to ensure that no similar confusion can arise in the future.