New Lords expenses scandal revealed

By agency reporter
October 24, 2017

New analysis by the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) has shown that Lords who have failed to contribute in key ways to the work of the House have claimed nearly half a million pounds in expenses and allowances in 2016/17.  

  • Of the 73 peers who failed to speak, sit on committees or submit any written questions to government in the past Parliamentary year, 17 claimed over £10,000.
  • Nine of those pocketed more than average UK take-home pay – claiming £271,313.
  • The 73 peers failing to contribute amounts to nearly one in ten peers.
  • 34 of those peers claimed expenses, raking in a total of a total of £488,010.
  • The 17 who claimed over £10,000 account for £424,637 of that figure – 87 per cent of the total.

The findings follow research last month showing that 115 Lords – one in seven of the total – failed to speak at all in the 2016/17 session, despite claiming an average of £11,091 each, while 18 peers failed to vote but still claimed £93,162. (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/24359)

And the research comes ahead of key Lords report on reform of the House at the end of this month – 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.”

Update

The Electoral Reform Society has now been informed by the House of Lords authorities that data they submitted to Hansard was incorrect.

The House of Lords has issued the following press release:

House of Lords Administration apologises to Viscount Colville for INCORRECT data

Responding to the article in today’s edition of the Daily Mirror about Viscount Colville’s spoken contributions in the House of Lords, Ed Ollard, Clerk of the Parliaments, said, “Due to an error online by the House of Lords, the data used by the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) about Viscount Colville of Cullross’s spoken contributions in the House of Lords in its press release ‘New Lords expenses scandal revealed: 17 Peers claim over £400,000 despite failing to contribute’ are incorrect.
 
“The ERS press release states that Viscount Colville of Cullross made no spoken contributions in the parliamentary session which ran from 18 May 2016 to 27 April 2017. Viscount Colville of Cullross actually made 18 spoken contributions in the House of Lords during that period.
 
“The incorrect data were published on the House of Lords Hansard website due to an error in the indexing of the speeches which attributed the current (5th) Viscount Colville of Cullross’s spoken contributions to his late father the 4th Viscount Colville of Cullross.
 
“I sincerely apologise to Viscount Colville of Cullross on behalf of the House of Lords Administration for this error and the distress the reporting of this incorrect information has caused.”

* Electoral Reform Society https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/

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