Inquiry calls as Asian peer ‘claims expenses on empty flat’

May 3rd, 2009 - 5:51 pm ICT by IANS  

London, May 3 (IANS) A Bangladeshi-origin politician who became Britain’s first Muslim woman member of the upper house of parliament is facing inquiry calls after allegations she claimed around 100,000 pounds in official expenses on a flat she does not live in.
Baroness Paula Uddin, who became a Labour member of the House of Lords in 1998, has been claiming allowances intended for peers living outside London although she resides only four miles from the Lords, the Sunday Times reported.

Allowances claimed by MPs for their second homes have become a major political issue in Britain, after several leading Labour MPs, including a minister, were found to be claiming tens of thousands of pounds for homes that they did not routinely use for their parliamentary duties in London.

The Sunday Times said the Labour baroness bought a two-bedroom flat in Maidstone in 2005 and has named it as her main home to claim almost 30,000 pounds a year in accommodation expenses from the House of Lords.

But it quoted residents in nearby flats as saying they had never seen her and that the bedrooms were unfurnished.

But hours after The Sunday Times challenged Paula Uddin about her “main residence”, the baroness’s car was spotted last weekend at the Maidstone flat and members of her family arrived.

The Sunday Times has also challenged Uddin about a further 83,000 pounds worth of expense claims she made before she bought the Maidstone flat in September 2005.

Angus Robertson, the leader in Westminster of the Scottish National party, which has campaigned for stricter controls on expenses, said: “I will be writing to the police and the House of Lords authorities asking them to investigate this report.”

The baroness said she had done nothing wrong adding: “Should the House of Lords authorities wish to investigate the matter I will, of course, cooperate fully.” She said she stayed at the flat “regularly” and that it had furniture.

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