House of Lords under fire for excessive expenses claims

Recent news reports regarding the ‘excessive’ expenses claimed by peers in the House of Lords will add grist to the mill for those who argue that the upper house needs to be reformed to sweep away cronyism.

Changes to the rules following the parliamentary expenses scandal of 2009 allow for members of the Lords to claim up to £300 a day for ‘attendance’, which means that peers need only show their faces in the chamber or a committee while it is sitting.

This provoked a backlash after it was revealed by The Sunday Times that multimillionaire peers are claiming up to £40,000 a year in expenses for attending the House of Lords while making little or no contributions to debates, committees or questions

One of the highest claimants is 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.

While such claims are not breaking any rules, there is a good deal of disquiet among some peers, including Baroness D’Souza, who argue that examples such as Lord Paul reflect badly on the rest of the house.

This story can be used by students studying the Unit 2 Parliament topic to consider how far the House of Lords needs to be reformed.


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