Statement from the Clerk of the Parliaments

12 March 2010

Following the decision by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) not to bring charges in relation to Baroness Uddin’s expenses claims, I have referred the complaint which I received about her to the Sub-Committee on Lords’ Interests, which will investigate it.

My recommendation, which the House Committee endorsed, of a minimum threshold below which it would be inappropriate for a member to designate a property as a main residence was made in the context of residence and therefore included overnight stays. It was only made for the purposes of my internal investigations. As the CPS has acknowledged in its press release, the threshold was that the:

"main residence has to be visited with a degree of frequency: in the order of at least once a month, over the year, when the House is sitting. Time spent at the main residence when the House is in recess is also a relevant factor."

Only visiting the residence once a month would not be sufficient for the designation to be appropriate and a visit must include an overnight stay.

The House Committee’s deliberations did not relate to potential breaches of the criminal law. I had agreed with the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) that I would suspend my internal investigations into the small number of members it was investigating until its investigations were complete. At the time I made my recommendation, the MPS was still investigating those members, and their circumstances were not a consideration in my recommendation.

Further, I draw your attention to the publication this week of a report by the House Committee on the public declaration of principal residence which includes a new definition, following the recommendations of the independent SSRB review. This is the latest step taken by the House Committee in reforming the current system. The House has acted decisively by initiating the independent review by the SSRB, revising and strengthening the Code of Conduct for members, and recruiting an independent Lords Commissioner for Standards to deal with complaints against members in future.

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