455 peers get more ex­penses than the av­er­age per­son’s pay

Many claim­ing it don’t even speak on red benches

Daily Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - NEWS - BY AN­DREW GRE­GORY Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor

HUN­DREDS of peers claimed more in ex­penses at the House of Lords last year than the av­er­age worker’s take-home pay.

De­spite the House sit­ting just 141 days over the year, 455 mem­bers each claimed over £22,226 tax-free for turn­ing up and, in some cases, do­ing lit­tle or noth­ing else.

Tax­pay­ers were landed with a £19mil­lion bill for peers’ £300-a-day al­lowance plus travel costs in 2016/17, a re­port from the Elec­toral Re­form So­ci­ety found.

It in­cluded £1.3mil­lion re­vealed ear­lier this year to have been claimed by 115 lords who did not speak once in the up­per cham­ber.

At the time a spokesman in­sisted they had con­trib­uted in other ways, such as by pro­vid­ing writ­ten ques­tions or be­ing on a com­mit­tee – but the Mir­ror then re­vealed 72 of the 115 did nei­ther.

And now to­day’s re­port re­veals 33 of those 72 cheek­ily claimed a to­tal of £462,510 in ex­penses. It will in­crease calls for cuts to the bloated 800-mem­ber cham­ber. The Lord Speaker’s Com­mit­tee has al­ready sug­gested re­form to cut num­bers to 600 by 2028.

But 88% of the public be­lieve the cuts should go fur­ther than that, an ERS poll found. House of Com­mons Speaker John Ber­cow has pre­vi­ously said the cur­rent 800 could be halved to 400.

ERS boss Dar­ren Hughes said: “With nearly one in 10 un­elected peers fail­ing to con­trib­ute in key ways, we have a demo­cratic cri­sis in our sec­ond cham­ber. “This re­port lays bare the rot­ten state of this un­elected sec­ond cham­ber – from couch­potato peers to lobby-fod­der lords. We need real re­form now.”

Ex­penses fig­ures are re­leased ev­ery three months. The ERS fig­ures were drawn from the Lords’ of­fi­cial records. There is no sug­ges­tion any of the peers broke rules or the law.

They are not re­quired to speak to claim their £300 al­lowance.

A House of Lords spokesman claimed the com­par­i­son to av­er­age pay is “un­der­mined” be­cause travel ex­penses “are re­ceipted and are not in any way com­pa­ra­ble to a salary”.

The spokesman added: “It is rea­son­able that peers can claim al­lowances to cover the costs they in­cur when they con­trib­ute to the work of Par­lia­ment.

“Mem­bers can claim £300 or £150 for ev­ery day they at­tend the House and un­der­take par­lia­men­tary work.

“They are ex­pected to pay for any costs as­so­ci­ated with at­tend­ing the House such as ac­com­mo­da­tion and staff costs from this al­lowance.”

HALVE IT Speaker John Ber­cow

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