Latest Public Sector News

08.09.15

ERS calls for Lords reform as ‘silent’ peers claim £1.3m in expenses

The 64 peers who did not speak at all in the House of Lords in the past year claimed nearly £1.3m in allowances and expenses, according to new research by the Electoral Reform Society (ERS).

It also surfaced that 30 ‘silent’ peers failed to speak during the whole of the last Parliament but claimed almost £800,000.

Additionally, 116 Peers did not speak at all since the start of the 2014 Parliament, and 55 Peers who failed to speak in the last session voted fewer than five times – but claimed almost £100,000.

Eight peers who failed to both speak and vote in the last parliamentary session bagged just short of £30,000.

Katie Ghose, chief executive of the ERS, argued that the figures showed the House of Lords is “well and truly bust”, proving to be a “damning indictment” on the chamber as well as a “national scandal”.

She said: “The case is now stronger than ever for serious reform of Britain’s unelected upper chamber – a chamber that is spiralling out of control, both in terms of size and cost. Rather than spending over a million pounds on peers who fail to even speak up in parliament, we need a fairly-elected upper House.

“The fact that peers claim thousands without even speaking or voting in the House highlights the reality that there is no accountability for peers – the public can’t kick them out if they fail to serve the interest of citizens.

“We urgently need to fix this broken House before the situation gets any worse.”

Prime minister David Cameron recently announced 45 new Peers at the end of August, most of whom were Conservatives, including LGA chair Cllr Gary Porter.

Ghose said this swelled the “already bloated upper chamber” to over 800 members, which she described as an “absolutely outrageous situation which will do nothing for people’s faith in politics.”

She added: “The prime minister says he regrets not reforming the chamber in the last parliament. Given these new findings, now is the time to act on that and get on with the vital work of ensuring we have a democratic upper House, where the public finally get a say.”

The ERS had claimed in August that the newly-appointed peers would cost at least £1.2m per year, not considering increased operating costs.

Earlier that month, it also revealed that ten Lords alone were responsible for £236,000 in claims during the 2010-15 Parliament.

It also claimed that in the 2014-15 session, nearly half of all crossbenchers participated in 10 or fewer votes.

To elucidate claims of imbalances in the chamber, the ERS also said that, in order to rebalance the House in line with the 2015 general election results, an additional 723 members would have to be elected.

Furthermore only two Peers were under the age of 40 while more than half were 70 or older, with much of the House also hailing from London and the south east and offering a background strictly in politics.

(Top image c. Parliament)

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