Lords Face Expenses Reduction

(Telegraph) – PEERS IN THE HOUSE OF LORDS are to have their expenses cut as part of Parliament’s response to the scandal over allowances.

The amount Lords can claim for staying overnight in London will be cut and receipts will, for the first time, have to be produced to verify the amount.

The furore around MPs expenses has deflected some attention from some of the antiquated allowances that also operate in the Lords.

However, some high profile cases of peers abusing the system has led to a quicker than expected set of proposals being drawn up by the independent Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB).

At the moment peers can claim £174 for staying overnight if their main home is outside London. The new rules will see that drop to around £140.

They are likely to be able to claim for staying in a hotel or renting a flat. However, like MPs, they will not be able to cash in by claiming for mortgage costs on a property.

The costs of upkeep for the home will also no longer be met by the taxpayer.

The review body will wait until Sir Christopher Kelly, chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, publishes his report into MPs’ expenses next week before unveiling its own recommendations. The aim, according to the BBC, is that the two reports ‘dovetail.’

Under the current rules members of the Lords can draw £75 a day for general costs of running an office and a further £86.50 for food and taxis. Those allowances are likely to be merged and a stricter limit imposed.

Meanwhile a report published today will set out reforms for the House of Lords to restore public confidence following controversies over lobbying and allowances.

The Eames Report will propose changes to the Lords’ code of conduct and rules relating to peers’ outside interests.

Baroness Royall, Labour’s Leader in the Lords, asked an internal committee chaired by Lord Eames, the former Archbishop of Armagh, to review the code of conduct in May this year after a series of controversies hit the Upper House.

These included the suspension of Lord Truscott and Lord Taylor of Blackburn for offering to lobby to change the law in return for cash, and allegations (currently being investigated by police) over expenses claims by Baroness Uddin, Lord Clarke of Hampstead and Lord Taylor of Warwick.

The Lords Code of Conduct came into effect in 2002 and requires peers to ‘act always on their personal honour’ and observe the principles of selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.

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Workers Can Still Accrue Holiday Entitlement While Sick

(Telegraph) – THE HOUSE OF LORDS HAS RULED that workers can still accrue holiday time while sick — even if the absence is long term.

The lords agreed with a claim by Keith Ainsworth, a former tax inspector in Chester, who complained that HM Revenue and Customs wrongly made a deduction from his wages involving holiday pay when he was ill.

In the judgement, Lord Rodger of Earlsferry concluded workers also had a right to carry over holiday leave, which they were unable to take while ill, into the following year’s allocation — or take pay in lieu.

Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood noted: ‘The purpose of a “holiday” from work is, at least in part, for the psychological and social well-being of the employee.’

He continued to say that holiday could be considered as similar to wages in terms of being something that was due to the employee whether they were ill or not.

The ruling means employees who return to work from a year of illness would legally be entitled to four weeks’ holiday immediately upon their return.

Tim Marshall, partner and UK head of employment at lawyers DLA Piper, said: ‘The judgment will increase the complexity of managing absence from work by allowing workers to take accrued holiday when they return to work — even after many months or more than a year off.

‘Until now the UK’s Working Time Regulations required employees to use all holiday leave within a year or lose it — a cost and time efficient way to manage leave.

‘Allowing workers to accrue statutory paid holiday entitlement during sickness absence will have serious financial and practical ramifications for employers across the UK.’

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union, said: ‘This is a victory for common sense.’