All 1 Debates between Baroness Flather and Lord Richard

Tue 20th Dec 2011

House Committee

Debate between Baroness Flather and Lord Richard
Tuesday 20th December 2011

(12 years, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Flather Portrait Baroness Flather
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My Lords, I have heard the arguments and I think that I have understood them. As a lay person, it seems to me that if you have no means to pay back money that you have taken fraudulently, it does not excuse you. It does not excuse you in normal life and it should not excuse you in your Lordships’ House. A large amount of money, £125,000, has been taken. It takes a long time to take that much money out of expenses in your Lordships' House. We cannot just overlook that and say, “It’s all right”, because the noble Baroness, Lady Uddin, cannot repay. Well, she can borrow; she can get a loan; she can see where she has money—she has money in Bangladesh; and she should pay back the money to Parliament and then discharge whatever borrowing she has made. You cannot be excused because you are too poor. I am sorry, but I cannot agree with that idea.

Lord Richard Portrait Lord Richard
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My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Flather, has in a sense put her finger on it. We have no procedure in this House for assessing whether someone in these circumstances is capable of repaying. If the noble Baroness, Lady Uddin, cannot in all conscience repay this money because she does not have it, I would not be in favour of penalising her in the way that she is being penalised. If on the other hand she can repay it and is deliberately not doing so, it seems to me that the decision that the House is being asked to make is perfectly proper. There is a gap. We have no procedure for determining what her circumstances are, and it would have to be done in a quasi-judicial way. I wonder whether the way out today, because this is a very troubling matter, is for the Chairman to take the matter back to the committee and see whether we cannot institute some form of sensible procedure for determining the basic question of fact upon which, in the end, this matter depends.