A Labour peer claimed almost £50,000 in attendance and travel expenses covering every single day the House of Lords was sitting last year, despite never speaking or asking any written questions, a Guardian investigation reveals.
Unlike MPs, who receive an annual salary, peers are entitled to a daily allowance of £305. Parliamentary staff note peers’ attendance when they arrive, but no record is kept of how soon after that they depart.
The former trade union general secretary David Brookman was among dozens of other lords and baronesses who never took part in a single debate, while almost a third of the 800 peers barely participated in parliamentary business over a 12-month period
But attendance data alone can be misleading because some peers rarely or never participate in parliamentary business despite attending frequently.
The steel company magnate Swraj Paul attended on 157 days and claimed more than £47,000 of allowances, but only spoke once. Lord Paul said there was no requirement in the rules for lords to participate in order to claim allowances. “I take a lot of interest in the House of Lords, but there is a lot more to be done than making speeches,” he said. Asked for an example, he replied: “Thinking, etc, and giving my point of view to colleagues.”
The median allowance claim by peers was £30,180, though some peers claimed substantially more than that through more frequent attendance or through travel expenses.