Lords Reform: New research reveals the price of patronage

Lords Reform: New research reveals the price of patronage

Unlock Democracy today publishes new research which reveals that dozens of members of the House of Lords claimed tens of thousands of pounds tax free in 2011 despite only voting on a handful of occasions. One peer, the Earl of Rosslyn, claimed over £15,000 despite not voting at all or sitting on any parliamentary committees

Three of the biggest claimants are peers who have been embroiled in lobbying and expenses scandals. Lord Paul was suspended from the Lords for 4 months in October 2010 for abuse of expenses, claimed attendance allowance for 114 days yet has only voted 4 times. Lord Truscott, who was suspended for six months in May 2009 for breaking parliamentary rules on lobbying, voted 19 times and claimed attendance allowance for 147 days. Lord Hanningfield, who was jailed for 9 months in July 2011 for offences under the Theft Act, claimed attendance allowance for 22 days and did not vote at all.

The data was derived by cross-referencing the House of Lords’ register of allowances and expenses claims with each peer’s voting record. During 2011, the average peer voted in 67 out of a total of 131 divisions.

In total 30 peers claimed over £20,000 in expenses despite voting in fewer than 1-in-4 divisions (32 or less) in 2011. A further 75 peers did not vote at all during that period (9 of whom died at some stage in 2011/2012).

The daily attendance allowance is intended for peers to claim when they are on parliamentary business. Peers can claim £300 or a lower rate of £150 per day tax free. Most of the claimants with little or no voting record do not sit on any parliamentary committees.

Commenting on the findings of this research, Director of Unlock Democracy Peter Facey said:

“Three years on from the expenses scandal, it is shocking that the House of Lords continues to do nothing about the ‘money for nothing’ culture which pervades it. Far too many peers continue to claim tens of thousands of pounds in allowances tax free with next to nothing to show for it.

“We have a choice between a smaller, democratically elected second chamber or to continue with an endlessly growing chamber, appointed by party leaders filled with members with a sense of entitlement who are under no requirement to play any role in the legislative process at all. You can’t put a price on democracy but the price of patronage is clearly too high.”

ENDS

The full dataset for 2011 can be found here: http://bit.ly/lords2011 (.xlsx format; warning - large file)

75 peers didn't vote at all in 2011 (4 of whom claimed more than £5k and a further 8 claimed less than £5k)
180 peers voted at least once but on less than 25% of occasions
- of those 6 claimed more than £40k in expenses
- a further 10 claimed more than £30k in expenses
- a further 14 claimed more than £20k in expenses.
- a further 18 claimed more than £15k in expenses
- a further 34 claimed more than £10k in expenses

Total cost of peers who did not vote at all: £46,684.95
Total cost of those voting in fewer than 25% of divisions: £1,993,307.00

The most expensive peers who voted in less than 25% of divisions, 2011

  • Lord Laird - A former MP and Northern Ireland Assembly Member for the Ulster Unionist Party, he was given a peerage in 1999 (total expenses in 2011: £54,036.27; attended 143 days; voted 30 times; spoke once in the chamber; received 833 written answers; no committees)
  • Lord Peston - An economist who was made a Labour life peer in 1987, also the father of the BBC’s Business Editor, Robert Peston (total expenses in 2011 £47,880.20; attended 156 days; voted 20 times; spoke 29 times in the chamber; joint committee on security 2010-)
  • Baroness Smith of Gilmorehill - The widow of former Labour leader John Smith, who died in 1994, she was made a Labour life peer in 1995 (total expenses in 2011 £47,623.84; attended 131 days; voted 31 times; did not speak in the chamber or receive any written answers; no committees)
  • Lord Quirk - An academic specialising in linguistics, English language and literature, he was made a crossbench peer in 1994 (total expenses in 2011: £44,769.00; attended 149 times; voted 29 times; spoke 3 times in the chamber; received 12 written answers; science and technology sub-committee I: hybrid instruments)
  • Lord Truscott - A non-renewable energy consultant and former Labour MEP who was embroiled in the Cash for Influence scandal in 2009 (total expenses in 2011: £44,100.00; attended 147 days; voted 19 times; did not speak in the chamber or receive any written answers; no committees)
  • Baroness Greengross - A crossbench peer, she was elevated to the Lords in 2000, and is currently the Chief Executive of the International Longevity Centre UK and a Vice-President for the Local Government Association (total expenses in 2011: £40,846.50; attended 150 days; voted 32 times; spoke 16 times in the chamber; received 5 written answers; no committees)
  • Lord Dannatt - A retired British Army Officer and former Chief of the General Staff, he was also an adviser to David Cameron in Opposition (total expenses in 2011: £38,114.00; attended 144 days; voted 19 times; spoke 8 times in the chamber; no committees)
  • Lord Pearson of Rannoch - A former insurance broker, he was made a Conservative peer in 1990, though he defected to UKIP in 2007 and served as their leader between 2009 and 2010 (total expenses in 2011: £38,073.98; attended 124 days; voted 13 times; spoke 228 times in the chamber; received 29 written answers; no committees)
  • Viscount Waverley - One of the 92 hereditary peers still in the Lords, he sits on the crossbenches and first entered the House in 1993 (total expenses in 2011: £37,200.00; attended 124 days; voted 19 times; spoke 3 times in the chamber; received 64 written answers; no committees)
  • Viscount Brookeborough - One of the 92 hereditary peers still in the House of Lords (total expenses in 2011: £36,555.16; attended 67 days; voted 9 times; spoke 5 times in the chamber; no committees)


The most expensive votes in the House of Lords, 2011

  • Lord Elis-Thomas - A former leader of Plaid Cymru who, until May 2011, was presiding officer of the National Assembly for Wales (total expenses in 2011: £15,488.70; attended 43 days; voted once; spoke once in the chamber; no committees) £15,488.70 per vote
  • Bishop of Liverpool - Born James Jones, he became the Bishop of Liverpool in 1998 having previously been the Bishop of Hull since 1994 (total expenses in 2011: £12,449.30; attended 36 days; voted once; spoke 10 times in the chamber; received 1 written answer; member of communications select committee 2010-2011) £12,449.30 per vote
  • Lord Paul - An Indian-born business magnate, former non-dom for tax purposes and Labour donor, he was suspended from the Lords in October 2010 for 4 months following the expenses scandal (total expenses in 2011: £34,224.70; attended 114 days; voted 4 times; spoke twice in the chamber; no committees) £8,556.18 per vote
  • Lord Skidelsky - An academic of Russian ancestry, famed for his biography of John Maynard Keynes (total expenses in 2011: £25,823.00; attended 90 days; voted 5 times; spoke 4 times in the chamber; received 1 written answer; committees: refreshment 2009-, EU sub-committee G 2010-, joint committee in the draft financial services bill 2011-2012) £5,164.60 per vote
  • Lord Jones of Birmingham - A businessman who now sits on the crossbenches, he was Director General of the CBI for over 6 years before being made a peer in 2007 and going on to serve as a Minister of State and spokesman for the Labour government (total expenses in 2011: £14,391.80; attended 48 days; voted 3 times; spoke twice in the chamber; no committees) £4,797.27 per vote
  • Viscount Brookeborough - One of the 92 hereditary peers still in the House of Lords (total expenses in 2011: £36,555.16; attended 67 days; voted 9 times; spoke 5 times in the chamber; no committees) £4,061.68 per vote
  • Lord Oxburgh - A geologist and geophysicist, he was made a crossbench peer in 1999 (total expenses in 2011: £29,764.40; attended 100 days; voted 9 times; spoke 6 times in the chamber; no committees)£3,307.16 per vote
  • Lord Bramall - An 88 year old British Army Officer who served as Chief of the Defence Staff for 3 years (total expenses in 2011: £22,266.95; attended 73 days; voted 7 times; spoke once in the chamber; no committees) £3,180.99 per vote
  • Lord Pearson of Rannoch - A former insurance broker, he was made a Conservative peer in 1990, though he defected to UKIP in 2007 and served as their leader between 2009 and 2010 (total expenses in 2011: £38,073.98; attended 124 days; voted 13 times; no committees) £2,928.77 per vote
  • Lord Birt - BBC Director General between 1992 and 1999, he was also a strategy adviser to then Prime Minister Tony Blair (total expenses in 2011: £14,400.00; attended 61 days; voted 5 times; spoke twice in the chamber; received 10 written answers; no committees) £2,880.00 per vote


The most expensive non-voters in the House of Lords, 2011

  • Earl of Rosslyn - A Commander in the Metropolitan Police Force and one of the 92 hereditary peers in the Lords, he has only voted 7 times since 1999, 5 of which were in 2007 on the reform of the Lords, when he voted for a fully appointed chamber and against all the elected options (total expenses in 2011: £15,750.00; attended 108 days; did not speak in the chamber or receive any written answers; no committees)
  • Lord Lewis of Newnham - An 84 year old academic who was Professor of Chemistry at Cambridge University for 25 years, he sits on the crossbenches and was made a life peer in 1989 (total expenses in 2011: £9,467.70; attended 29 days; did not speak in the chamber or receive any written answers; no committees)
  • Lord Singh of Wimbledon - A journalist and director of the Network of Sikh Organisations, he was appointed in October 2011, though failed to vote for the remaining 3 months of the year (total expenses in 2011: £5,550.00; attended 23 days)
  • Lord Hanningfield - A former pig farmer and Conservative local council leader, he was jailed in 2011 for falsely claiming expenses (total expenses in 2011: £5,027.60; attended 22 days; did not speak in the chamber or receive any written answers; no committees, he also attended 13 days in the last 3 months of 2010 without voting, claiming £4,282.10)
  • Earl Baldwin of Bewdley - The grandson of the former Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin and one of 92 hereditary members sitting in the Lords (total expenses in 2011: £4,457.37; attended 43 days; received answers to 45 written questions in 2011, 44 of which were on fluoridation and 1 of which was homeopathy; spoke once in the chamber also on fluoridation; no committees)

Please note this is an article that has been copied over from our old site.