Political reform group Unlock Democracy has published new research which reveals that dozens of members of the House of Lords claimed tens of thousands of pounds tax free in 2011 despite only voting on a handful of occasions. One peer, the Earl of Rosslyn, claimed over £15,000 despite not voting at all or sitting on any parliamentary committees
Three of the biggest claimants are peers who have been embroiled in lobbying and expenses scandals. Lord Paul was suspended from the Lords for 4 months in October 2010 for abuse of expenses, claimed attendance allowance for 114 days yet has only voted 4 times.
Lord Truscott, who was suspended for six months in May 2009 for breaking parliamentary rules on lobbying, voted 19 times and claimed attendance allowance for 147 days. Lord Hanningfield, who was jailed for 9 months in July 2011 for offences under the Theft Act, claimed attendance allowance for 22 days and did not vote at all.
The data was derived by cross-referencing the House of Lords’ register of allowances and expenses claims with each peer’s voting record. During 2011, the average peer voted in 67 out of a total of 131 divisions.
In total 30 peers claimed over £20,000 in expenses despite voting in fewer than 1-in-4 divisions (32 or less) in 2011. A further 75 peers did not vote at all during that period (9 of whom died at some stage in 2011/2012).
The daily attendance allowance is intended for peers to claim when they are on parliamentary business. Peers can claim £300 or a lower rate of £150 per day tax free. Most of the claimants with little or no voting record do not sit on any parliamentary committees.
Commenting on the findings of this research, Director of Unlock Democracy Peter Facey declared: “Three years on from the expenses scandal, it is shocking that the House of Lords continues to do nothing about the ‘money for nothing’ culture which pervades it. Far too many peers continue to claim tens of thousands of pounds in allowances tax free with next to nothing to show for it."
Mr Facey continued: “We have a choice between a smaller, democratically elected second chamber or to continue with an endlessly growing chamber, appointed by party leaders filled with members with a sense of entitlement who are under no requirement to play any role in the legislative process at all. You can’t put a price on democracy but the price of patronage is clearly too high.”
* The full dataset for 2011 can be found here: http://bit.ly/lords2011
* Unlock Democracy: http://unlockdemocracy.org.uk/