A majority of peers claimed more than the average UK salary in allowances alone last year – even though the House of Lords only sat for 141 days.
A report exposes the ‘democratic crisis in our second chamber’, with 455 Lords charging the taxpayer more than £22,226 in expenses – the average full-time worker’s income.
The Electoral Reform Society (ERS) found that peers used their tax-free daily allowance and travel costs to rake in a total of £19million in 2016/17.
And it dubbed 33 of them ‘couch potato peers’ for taking part in less than a quarter of votes and yet claiming £462,510 in expenses – an average of £14,015 each.
The Electoral Reform Society (ERS) dubbed 33 Lords ‘couch potato peers’ for taking part in less than a quarter of votes
The peers, who also failed to speak in the chamber, table a written question, or serve on a committee at all in the 2016/17 session, claimed an average of £746 per vote.
They made up the total of 72 peers who were ‘inactive’, nearly one in ten of the 779 total – prompting ERS chief executive Darren Hughes to warn the Lords is being treated as a ‘retirement home’.
He said it had degenerated into a ‘crumbling, crony-stuffed house’.
‘This report lays bare the rotten state of this unelected second chamber,’ said Mr Hughes. ‘We need real reform now.’
The ERS study will pile further pressure on the Government to take action to clamp down on the escalating costs of the Upper House.
It comes weeks after a Lords committee suggested the size of the Lords should be cut over the next few years from almost 800 to 600.
A Lords committee suggested the size of the Lords should be cut over the next few years from almost 800 to 600
It suggested new peers should be tied to a 15-year maximum term.
In its study, the ERS highlighted that the top 300 voting peers accounted for 64 per cent of all votes, while ‘lobby-fodder Lords’ rarely deviate from party lines.
The ERS obtained data on voting and expenses via the official Lords web pages, and information on spoken contributions from Hansard.
A House of Lords spokesman dismissed the ERS report as a ‘rehash of publicly available parliamentary data’.
The spokesman said: ‘Their comparison of members’ claims to average take home pay is undermined by their inclusion of members’ travel costs, which are receipted and are not in any way comparable to a salary.’