LDV Members' Survey – MPs' expenses (1): what you said about Chris Rennard

by Stephen Tall on May 21, 2009

On Tuesday evening, LDV emailed those Lib Dem party members signed-up to our private discussion forum inviting them to take part in a survey focusing on MPs’ expenses. Many thanks to the 220 of you who have so far completed it; we’ll be publishing the results on LDV over the next few days. You can catch up on the results of all our past exclusive LDV members’ surveys by clicking here.

First up, we’re going to look at what you said about the expenses stories concerning Lord (Chris) Rennard, the party’s chief executive. Here’s what we asked: Though not an MP, the party’s chief executive Lord (Chris) Rennard has faced criticism for claiming a House of Lords member’s allowance of £41,678 having designated his flat in Eastbourne as his main residence and his London house as his second home. Lord Rennard has stated that all his claims have been specifically approved by the House of Lords authorities. How do you think the party should respond to this?

And here’s what you told us:

>> 22% – The party’s Federal Executive should issue clear guidelines to all MPs/peers for the future, but no further action should be taken against Lord Rennard unless there is evidence he broke Parliamentary rules.

>> 31% – Ask Lord Rennard immediately to clarify where his main residence is, and – if it is not Eastbourne – he should apologise and repay the sum claimed.

>> 24% – Ask Lord Rennard immediately to clarify where his main residence is, and – if it is not Eastbourne – he should apologise, repay the sum claimed and be suspended and/or have the whip withdrawn.

>> 18% – Immediately suspend Lord Rennard from his post as chief executive pending a report from an independent committee appointed by the party’s Federal Executive on whether he broke the rules.

A split result, though the most popular response would see Lord Rennard – if his main residence is shown not to be in Eastbourne – forced to apologise and pay back the money mistakenly claimed, drawing a line under the episode. However, that would not satisfy 24% of you, who think that Lord Rennard should also be suspended or have the whip withdrawn in such circumstances.

Almost one-fifth of you, 18%, think the party’s federal executive should have taken the decision to suspend Lord Rennard pending a proper investigation to determine if he broke the rules. While 22% adopt a more lenient stance, believing that if, as Lord Rennard states, his claims were specifically approved by the Lords authorities then it would be better simply for the federal executive to make sure clear guidelines are in place for the future.