Scottish Lords can keep titles after independence says Lib Dem peer

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  By a Newsnet reporter
 
A senior Lib Dem peer has revealed that Scottish members of the House of Lords will be allowed to keep their titles even after independence.
 
Former Lib Dem MSP Jim Wallace, now Lord Wallace of Tankerness, revealed the plans in an interview with online news site the Huffington Post UK.

Speaking to the Post, Wallace said it would “be fine” for Scots such as himself to hold onto their titles even if there was a Yes vote in next year’s independence referendum.

“I happen to be a Scot who is a peer of the United Kingdom. So technically I would be able to retain my seat if [I was] a resident taxpayer.” Wallace told the online news site.

However the peer, who campaigns against independence said that Scottish peers would have to change their residency and added:

“If I continue to keep my Orkney home, I would not be a resident taxpayer, so would not be able to keep my seat.  My home is in Scotland. I have no intention of moving. I’m confident a year from now I will still be living in UK.”

Commenting, the SNP MP who uncovered the ‘cash for honours’ scandal, Angus MacNeil MP said:

“This is ridiculous and speaks volumes about Westminster priorities. The UK government failed to take the opportunity to give their plans for Scotland after a Yes or No vote as set out by Electoral Commission. The MOD won’t even look at alternative plans for Trident- yet there are plans to keep Scottish peers in the House of Lords!

“Under the Westminster system, we have the ludicrous situation that there are far more legislators who are appointed than elected – and people in Scotland elect only 4 per cent of the Westminster parliamentarians who hold powers over the economy, welfare, defence, our place in Europe, and many other crucial areas of policy.

“The UK parties nominating their own donors to the House of Lords is part and parcel of Westminster’s crony culture – and the Lords is now the second biggest chamber in the world after the Chinese National People’s Congress, which governs a country of 1.3 billion!

“The SNP’s long-standing position is that we believe those making laws should be elected by the people, and therefore we do not nominate members to the House of Lords.

“If the rest of the UK want to keep funding the unelected House of Lords, that is a matter for them. A Yes vote means that people in Scotland can get rid of the expensive and unrepresentative Westminster tier –  saving around £50 million a year in not sending MPs and Peers to London- which means more cost effective and fairer government.”

In 2006 it emerged that a number of large secret loans had been made to the Labour Party before the 2005 general election, and that some of those lenders had subsequently been nominated for peerages. 

Scottish National Party MP Angus MacNeil wrote to the Metropolitan Police asking them to investigate whether any laws had been broken. The investigation was later widened to cover the other UK parties.

Members of the House of Lords are allowed to claim a daily tax-free allowance of £300 for simply turning up.  There was anger recently after it emerged unelected peers had introduced an amendment to a House of Commons Bill that stripped key energy powers from the Scottish Parliament.