Peer defends attendance record

Lord Hanningfield Credit: PA

Essex peer Lord Hanningfield, who served nine weeks of a nine-month sentence in 2011 for falsely claiming £28,000 in parliamentary expenses, has defended regularly "clocking in" to claim a £300 daily attendance allowance despite spending less than 40 minutes inside the House of Lords.

He told The Daily Mirror it was normal practice and that as many as 50 others did the same.

The money went on "entertaining, meeting people, employing people", he said, adding that he was a "full-time peer" who needed to be able to pay his electricity bill and buy food.

There is no suggestion that the former Conservative broke any rules.

The newspaper said that on 11 of 19 days that it monitored the peer's movements in July, he travelled to Westminster from his home in Essex but spent less than 40 minutes in the Lords before returning.

The shortest attendance during the month was 21 minutes and the longest more than five hours, it said - with a total of #57,000 claimed in attendance allowance over the month and #471 in travel costs.

Confronted about the claims by the newspaper, Lord Hanningfield said: "Lots of peers go in and check in for their expenses, but they are using their expenses for a lot of things, entertaining, meeting people, employing people."