Peers pay themselves almost a third more in expenses and attendance allowances

Peers pay themselves almost a third more in expenses and attendance allowances prompting increased calls for House of Lords reform

  • Expenses and allowance claims by peers went up by almost a third in 2018/19
  • Average payment received by peers was £30,827 – more than UK worker average
  • House of Lords insisted amount paid increased because of more working days 

Peers paid themselves almost a third more last year than in the previous 12 months as 31 claimed more in expenses than the standard take-home wage of an MP. 

The cost of expenses and the payment of daily parliamentary attendance allowances in the House of Lords rose by some 29 per cent in the 12 months to March 2019, reaching £23 million. 

The average tax-free payment received by peers was £30,827 – more than the median salary of UK workers.

The latest data, published by the Sunday Times, has accelerated calls for House of Lords reform. 

But parliamentary authorities defended the payments as they insisted they had risen because peers had been asked to work more days than the previous year. 

The latest figures come as peers line up an above-inflation 3.1 per cent pay rise for April this year, a move which will take their daily attendance payment to £323.

The cost of expenses and attendance allowances in the House of Lords in 2018/19 increased by 29 per cent, according to a report in the Sunday Times

Peers are not paid a salary like MPs but are able to claim expenses and an attendance allowance for all of the days they work. 

The ballooning cost of the upper chamber is perhaps unsurprising given the growing number of peers. 

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,’ the paper said, with the peer ‘checking in for his allowance on 159 of a possible 161 days’. 

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 newspaper.

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

MPs were paid a salary of just over £77,000 in 2018/19. 

A spokesman for the House of Lords said the increase in claims was down to an increase in the number of days worked by peers during the last financial year – a period dominated by parliamentary Brexit wrangling.  

The spokesman said: ‘The increase in the costs of House of Lords allowances in the 2018/19 financial year is largely due to a 25 per cent 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 spokesman said the upper chamber is a ‘busy and effective revising chamber which does an important job scrutinising legislation and holding the Government to account’.