New Lords expenses scandal revealed: 16 Peers claim £400,000 despite failing to contribute

Posted on the 24th October 2017

NOTE: This press release was updated after the House of Lords authorities admitted that data they submitted to Hansard was incorrect. See here for full statement.


New analysis by the Electoral Reform Society has shown that Lords who have failed to contribute in key ways to the work of the House have claimed £400,000 in expenses and allowances in 2016/17.  

Of the 72 peers who failed to speak, sit on committees or submit any written questions to government in the past Parliamentary year [16/17], 16 claimed over £10,000.

Eight of those pocketed more than average UK take-home pay – claiming £269,213 [1].

The 72 peers failing to contribute amounts to nearly one in ten peers.

33 of those peers claimed expenses, raking in a total of a total of £462,510.

The 16 who claimed over £10,000 account for £399,137 of that figure – 86% of the total.

The research comes ahead of key Lords report on reform of the House at the end of this month [3] – with the ERS highlighting the problem of ‘lobby fodder Lords’: peers who simply turn up to claim and vote without taking part in essential scrutiny of government.

Darren Hughes, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:

“The fact that nearly one in ten peers are failing to contribute to the work of the House is bad enough. But it leaves a nasty taste when a significant chunk of those are claiming more than the average worker takes home in a year.

“While many peers do work hard, it does our democracy a huge disservice when dozens of unelected peers are taking advantage of the lack of scrutiny, and appear to be gaming the system.

“To the public – and indeed to some Lords – the upper chamber has become simply a members’ club, rather than an essential revising chamber. This is no fit state for the Mother of all Parliaments. Voters are sick of scandal after scandal – ones which stems from a total lack of accountability.

“What we need is a much smaller, fairly-elected upper house that the public can have faith in – and where voters can hold ineffective peers to account.

“This is the second expenses scandal revealed in just a month. Enough is enough. We need real reform – not tinkering around the edges. Let’s get on with it and give voters the revising chamber Britain needs.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

[1] UK median take home pay is £22,226.25 (ONS Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings: 2016 provisional results).

[2] See the research here http://mailchi.mp/electoral-reform/13m-claimed-by-peers-who-never-speak-as-lords-expense-bill-surges-20-in-two-years

The ERS research shows:

  • Lobby-fodder Lords: £4,086,764 has been claimed by the 36% of peers who spoke five times or fewer in the past year, many of whom simply turn up to vote
  • 167 peers made 10 or fewer spoken contributions – yet claimed more than the average take-home salary
  • Couch-potato peers: peers who voted ten times or fewer claimed £1,032,653 in 2016/17
  • The ‘something for nothing’ culture: £7.3m claimed by peers who spoke ten times or fewer this past year, while 131 peers spoke and voted ten times or fewer – claiming £658,314 in 2016/17
  • The noisy minority: 10 peers – 1.16% of the total – account for over a fifth of spoken contributions, while the top 50 speakers account for 51% of total speeches
  • Supersized-chamber: Despite being the second largest chamber in the world, most of the Lords’ huge costs come from those who contribute the least: the most active 300 peers claim only half the expenses – showing the size of the Lords can be cut without significantly limiting its work

[3] http://www.parliament.uk/size-of-house-committee

See the ERS’ response to the leaked report here: https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/latest-news-and-research/media-centre/press-releases/press-release-lords-reforms-are-a-start-but-dodge-the-real-issue-say-campaigners/

More information here: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/plans-for-peer-time-limit-are-sticking-plaster-for-house-of-lords-2g52gn2jp

Methodology note

All data is drawn from the House of Lords’ own resources. Speaking data is drawn from Hansard.

Expenses and speaking data covers the 2016/17 Parliamentary year. Expense data includes daily attendance allowance (£150 or £300 per day) and travel expenses.

Note: Expenses data does not include office expenditure, or House of Lords infrastructure costs. This again means the actual figures will be higher than those reflected here.

Office expenditure is excluded as the ERS believes Peers who do contribute should not be penalised for incurring real day-to-day costs.

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