Peers pocket a third more in cash and expenses – because they sat for more days

Peers pocketed a third more in daily expenses last year than the year before, it has been reported.

But Lords authorities defended the jump in costs, because the House sat for 25% more days last year than the year before.

And some 31 members of the House of Lords claimed more in expenses than an MP’s salary.

The cost of peers’ expenses and daily allowances – the cash they get for attending Parliament – rose by 29% in the year to March 2019, according to the Sunday Times.

That means it reached an eye-watering £23 million.

The increase was largely due to the increase in sitting days last year as Parliamentarians grappled with Brexit.

A House of Lords spokesman said: : " The increase in the costs of House of Lords allowances in the 2018/19 financial year is largely due to a 25% increase in the number of days that the House sat, rising from 129 in 2017/18 to 161 in 2018/19.

"As Members of the Lords can generally only claim allowances for days they attend the House any increase in sitting days is likely to produce an increase in the cost of Member’s allowances. The number of sittings days was lower in 2017/18 than usual due to the General Election.

“The House of Lords is a busy and effective revising chamber which does an important job scrutinising legislation and holding the Government to account. In the period covered by the Sunday Times article it made 2,513 changes to legislation; members tabled 8,072 written questions and 153 reports were produced by committees.”

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The Sunday Times said the peers' average tax-free payment was £30,827, exceeding the median salary of UK workers.

Peers this month voted to grant themselves an above-inflation 3.1% payrise, taking their daily attendance payment to £323.

And this comes at a time when the latest round of peerages will bring the total number of lords to 834, the highest since Tony Blair cut the majority of hereditary peers in 1999.

The Sunday Times said one peer, former Labour minister Lord Cunningham, claimed £79,437 in expenses last year.

"Cunningham, 80, made 17 spoken contributions to the upper chamber. He was not a member of any committees, despite checking in for his allowance on 159 of a possible 161 days," the paper said.

It added 89-year-old Lord Paul, who spoke only once in the chamber, claimed £47,885 in expenses despite his family having a £2 billion fortune.

"Unelected Lords are taking advantage of the lack of scrutiny in the upper chamber," Willie Sullivan, a senior director at the Electoral Reform Society, told the paper.

"The Lords is a rolling expenses scandal – and we'll see this year after year unless there is reform."

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