A former Conservative minister, who provoked public outrage after claiming large sums of taxpayers’ money to clean the moat at his country estate, has been sworn into the House of Lords.
Lord Hailsham of Kettlethorp, formerly known as Douglas Hogg, will now be permitted to claim up to £300 each day the House of Lords is sitting thanks to the peers’ expenses system.
The former MP resigned in 2010 after his scandalous expenses were revealed in an investigation by the Telegraph. Expenses included a £2,200 claim to clean the moat surrounding his estate.
When Prime Minister David Cameron announced Hogg was to receive a peerage, he was accused of “bringing Parliament into disrepute.” The PM made the decision despite having to remove a previous nomination after a watchdog said it would be inappropriate.
Most of Hailsham’s expenses were claimed to pay for the maintenance of his 13th century manor house and gardens in Lincolnshire, which include a lodge and numerous outhouses.
Staff on the estate included a housekeeper on a salary of £14,000 per year and a full-time gardener.
The peer’s claims included the running of his housekeeper’s car, a “mole man” to keep moles at bay, and £31 to have some bees removed.
In 2009, the Telegraph reported the peer had negotiated with the House of Commons’ fees office to ensure a special deal, which automatically paid him a 12th of the annual allowance each month — effectively giving him an extra salary.
Hailsham told the fees office the monthly payments were necessary because running costs of the estate were “greatly” in excess of the maximum permitted under MPs’ second home allowances.
“It will certainly make my life a lot easier,” he said.
The peer also wrote a letter explaining all the costs of running his estate. He said he was not making expenses claims for all the maintenance costs.
“Whilst some items may be disputable as to whether they do or do not fall within the allowance, I would suggest that it is certain that allowable expenditure exceeds the allowance by a sizeable margin and consequently we need not spend too much time on debate.”
However, the expenses did include an £18,000 gardener’s salary, £1,000 in lawn-mowing fees and £671.17 for a mole catcher.