Millionaire Lords claiming up to £40,000 in expenses 'for doing nothing'

Mark Chandler
Expenses: The House of Lords: AP

Millionaire peers are using their House of Lords perks to claim up to £40,000 a year while making little or no contribution to debates, questions or committees, it has been claimed.

One peer is said to have collected their £300 daily allowance on 136 days last year but made no contributions in the chamber or on a committee.

The reported findings come after a former lord speaker said some peers "make no contribution whatsoever" and alleged one kept a taxi waiting while they clocked on.

House of Lords officials said any members found to be abusing the system would be suspended, although they highlighted that peers' work does not always appear on official records.

The Sunday Times analysed the latest expenses records and cross-referenced them with the parliamentary record of peers' contributions to debates, committees and votes.

The research reportedly showed one member, one of Britain's wealthiest individuals, last year received £40,800 in expenses for 136 days in Parliament but made no contributions in votes or questions and was not a member of a committee.

They voted on four pieces of legislation out of a total of 114.

A Labour peer reportedly claimed £24,300 for 83 days at the Lords, but made no contributions in debates or questions and voted on five bills.

A crossbench peer collected £7,800 in expenses for 29 days, but did not vote or make any written or spoken contribution in the chamber.

They chair a house committee, although it did not conduct any business during the claim period, a parliament spokesman told the newspaper.

Former speaker Baroness D'Souza spent months investigating which peers were clocking in to collect their allowance.

She later abandoned the probe to avoid "naming and shaming" colleagues and provoking a "press storm".

The crossbench peer said she found it was "very difficult" to quantify members' contribution to Lords activities.

Peers are not paid a salary and can only claim their daily allowance when they attend the House and undertake parliamentary work.

Their travel costs are also reimbursed and restaurants in Parliament are subsidised.

Members have to cover any other expenses associated with their work including accommodation and staff.

A House of Lords spokesman said: "All members have to certify that they have undertaken parliamentary work when claiming.

"Where members are shown to have claimed when they have not undertaken parliamentary work, the House has the power to suspend them - as in the case of Lord Hanningfield.

"The House of Lords is an active and effective revising chamber that considered 3,678 amendments to legislation in the last session, and members contribute to that work in a wide variety of ways. In the 2015-16 session, 710 members spoke in debates, 779 voted in divisions, and 321 were members of select committees.

"However, parliamentary work is not limited to these activities, and much of it would not leave a record in Hansard."

Life peer Hanningfield, a former Tory member, was jailed for expenses fraud in 2011. He was later accused of wrongly claiming around £3,300 in expenses in 2013, but was cleared after Parliament intervened.

Additional reporting by the Press Association.