Labour peer Baron Brooke claimed £140,000 for 'overnight allowance' while living just three miles from House of Lords
Not pursuing 'economic advantage to the limit'? Baron Brooke might want to remember his earlier advice when claiming his £174-a-night allowance
When he was a trade union boss, Clive Brooke was a keen advocate of financial moderation.
In a report he wrote with church leaders, he said people must show ‘a generous spirit, and not pursue economic advantage to the limit’.
But then Clive Brooke became Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe – and began filling in his expense forms.
Over the past seven years he has been claiming close to the maximum allowance in overnight subsistence payments despite owning a £700,000 townhouse just three miles from Parliament.
The Labour peer has made the claims – totalling more than £140,000 in the accounts available – on the basis that his main residence is a house in Brighton on which he and his wife Lorna, 66, have no mortgage.
Lord Brooke, 67, and his wife have owned their three-storey London home, in Battersea, a seven-minute drive from Parliament, for 23 years and are on the electoral roll there.
He stays in the London house, which is a stone’s throw from the Thames, whenever he sits in the Lords.
His attendance records is among the best. He has turned up for a minimum of 127 days and a maximum of 161 days in the seven years for which there are records.
He has also used the Battersea address for company directorships, has said in the House of Lords ‘I live in Battersea’, and his wife is a community governor at a Battersea nursery school.
If he had told the parliamentary authorities his primary residence was his London home, he would have been barred from claiming overnight subsistence allowances of £174 a night.
Lords rules state that members whose main home is in Greater London cannot claim the allowance.
Instead, a three-bedroom detached property in Brighton is designated as his main home.
Lord and Lady Brooke are also on the electoral role in the Sussex town.
The arrangement enables Lord Brooke to claim the allowance for his days in London on parliamentary business, even though he stays the night in his Battersea home free of charge.
In the years from 2001 to 2008 he has claimed overnight subsistence allowances totalling respectively £15,502, £19,346, £20,140, £20,496, £20,971, £23,665 and £24,315.
No receipts are needed for peers to submit the expenses claims.
His claims for previous years and since April last year are not available.
Peers who have their own home in London are free to refrain from claiming the overnight allowance, especially if they wish to demonstrate their ‘generous spirit, and not pursue economic advantage to the limit’.
Lord Brooke bought the house in Brighton for £560,000 eight years ago. It is in a sought-after location near to the marina and East Brighton Golf Club.
Lord Brooke, who was at his Battersea home this week, said in a
statement through his solicitors: ‘My home in Brighton has been my designated main residence in all the time that I have been in the House of Lords.
‘I live in Brighton for seven months of the year, which my immediate neighbours can attest to.
‘I am not just there on weekends as has been incorrectly claimed. When the House of Lords is in session, I stay in London on Monday to Thursday nights because of my work there.
‘If I was not in the House of Lords I would not need nor have accommodation in London. I do not receive a salary for working in the Lords.
‘In common with other peers, I do receive allowances which cover my costs for carrying out this work.’
In a Lords discussion of the railways last year Lord Brooke announced that he lived in Battersea.
On other occasions he has told the House he lives in Brighton.
Originally from West Yorkshire – from where he took his full title, Baron Brooke of Alverthorpe, when ennobled in 1997 – Lord Brooke earned Labour gratitude when leading first the Inland Revenue Staff Association, then the Public Services Tax and Commerce Union.
He has also sat on the TUC’s general council.
Lord Brooke has already faced controversy this year.
In January it was claimed he had failed to declare £36,000-a-year earnings from management consultancy Accenture when asking questions about policies that directly affect the firm’s aviation and railway clients.
In the wake of those claims he resigned from his role as a senior strategy adviser for Accenture. Lords’ allowances are set to be reformed after a string of revelations about peers’ claims.
Proposals from the Senior Salaries Review Board will force them to come up with proof that their main home is beyond commuting distance from London.
Baroness Uddin, a Labour peer, could face prosecution over claims of £100,000 after nominating a flat in Kent as her ‘main home’ and claiming for her house in east London.
Neighbours claimed the Kent house was barely occupied.
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