Greed of billionaire peers who take £300 a day just to turn up
BILLIONAIRE peers are topping up their fortunes by claiming £300 a day for turning up at the House of Lords.
An investigation has found that members of the Lords are claiming the tax-free daily allowances, despite not needing the money.
Lord Paul, a Labour peer whose steel business is worth £2.2billion, received more than £40,000 in tax-free payments for attending Westminster last year.
He is one of three peers with combined family fortunes estimated at more than £4.5billion, who were together paid more than £100,000 in taxpayer-funded attendance allowances in 2014/15.
They have broken no rules, but the revelation raises fresh questions about the unelected multi-millionaires given a crucial role in making Britain’s laws.
It comes days after the forced resignation of Lord Sewel, who was filmed snorting cocaine with prostitutes. The case highlighted the absurdity of the Upper House, which is already the largest legislative chamber outside China.
The Daily Mail revealed that peers were claiming £300 a day in allowances which are heavily weighted towards those who live in London. Despite his vast wealth, Lord Paul, 84, appeared in the Lords on 134 days last year and pocketed £40,200, yet he spoke in the House just three times for a total of 14 minutes.
The Indian-born businessman and his family are estimated to be worth £2billion thanks to the success of Caparo, the steel firm he founded in 1968.
He said: ‘I find my time valuable. I do not know, nor has anyone told me, that the allowance for attending is means tested.’ Asked what he does with the money he claims, he replied: ‘When I started I didn’t draw for quite some time, but then I said why shouldn’t I, because I can do other things with it – and I do.’
And earlier this year Lord Paul told the Daily Mail it would ‘insult’ other, less wealthy peers if he did not claim the optional £300-a-day payment.
Most of the wealthiest members of the House of Lords choose not to claim any public money for their duties. Apprentice star Karren Brady, 46, who became a Tory peer last year, said she would not take taxpayer funds, explaining: ‘I don’t need the salary and the expenses.’
Other businessmen such as Lord Sugar, the presenter of The Apprentice, and advertiser Lord Saatchi claimed no allowances for work in the House. However Labour’s Lord Grantchester, 64 – who has an estimated £1.2billion fortune from the Littlewoods pools empire – claimed £38,400 for 128 days. Lord Kirkham, 70, founder of DFS and a Tory donor worth £1.15billion, showed up on 81 days and picked up £24,300. Lord Marland, worth £100million from his insurance business, claimed £25,800 but gave it all to charity.
Financier Lord Fink, who is worth £ 150million, claimed £15,900. Lord Fink, 57, said: ‘I have had considerable expenses while being in the Lords.’
The figures from House of Lords records also show food tycoon Lord Noon, 79, worth £75million, claimed £21,600 in allowances. Lord Noon declined to comment to The Sun, and Lords Grantchester and Kirkham did not reply.
Yesterday Darren Hughes, of the Electoral Reform Society, said: ‘Our unelected chamber is in dire need of a clean-out.’