"Calls for a radical overhaul of the House of Lords grew last night over the scandal of peers being paid to turn up and contribute little or nothing to debates and votes.
Over a year, 115 claimed £1.2million of taxpayers’ cash in expenses without saying a word during upper chamber discussions. And £4million was handed to the 277 who spoke five times or fewer.
They were all given their £300 daily attendance allowance, despite their lack of involvement in debates or votes.
It sparked accusations a “something for nothing” culture was rife among peers as the Government slashes public services while subjecting millions of workers to pay cuts.
Among those in the line of fire was former Tory peer Baroness Flather who claimed £37,932.00 in expenses for 2016/17 but failed to vote even once.
The shock figures came from an analysis of voting, speaking and expenses records for the Lords carried out by the Electoral Reform Society. Chief executive Darren Hughes said: “These figures are a damning indictment of the state of the House of Lords …
The ERS also found £7,3million was claimed by 394 peers who contributed to debates 10 times or fewer. More than half of all peers claimed more in tax-free expenses than the average Brit’s wages, which is £22,226.25. Among them were Lord Laird who claimed £48,279.00 in expenses and only voted twice.
Lord Paul raked in £38,100 for seven votes. Baroness Afshar claimed £34,966 but only voted three times."
The Times reinvigorated the story on 2nd April, specifically mentioning Lord Paul, "one of Britain's richest men … Paul, a crossbencher who was suspended seven years ago for an expenses violation, received £40,800 last year despite making no contributions in the chamber or on committees." Lords Evans of Watford, Carswell and Hanningfield are also detailed.
On 13th March 2017, both the Guardian and the Mail carried stories arising from the contemporanious BBC series on the House of Lords.
An investigation that revealed members of the House of Lords clocking in to claim their £300 daily allowance without doing any parliamentary work was dropped to avoid a “press storm”, a former Lord Speaker has admitted.
Frances D’Souza said that, despite identifying peers involved in the practice during a months-long investigation, she wanted to avoid naming and shaming individuals.
“What I wanted to find out in the research that I did a few months ago was who was attending and what they were claiming, and even though it is very difficult to quantify there are some who make no contribution whatsoever but who nevertheless claim the full amount,” Lady D’Souza said in BBC2’s Meet the Lords.
“This is not a daycare centre or a club, it is actually a legislative house, and I do firmly believe that the people who attend ought to be able to be in a position to contribute.”
She added: “I abandoned this research because it would have involved a degree of naming and shaming, which I certainly didn’t want to do. But also that would in turn have provoked some kind of sort of a press storm, which clearly I didn’t wish to to do.”
The peer admitted the reputation of the Lords has “probably never been lower”.
She said: “The public perception is of a house full of aged males sitting around perhaps sleeping on the benches and the public only gets to know of the work of the House of Lords when the House of Lords really thwarts the government or because there’s been a scandal.”
She had previously alleged that one member kept a taxi running outside while signing in to collect the daily allowance.