Members of the House of Lords who did not vote in the last parliamentary session claimed over £100,000 in expenses, according to a new report from the Electoral Reform Society campaign organisation.
Researchers found that in the past five years, non-voting peers claimed £360,000, with only 10 members responsible for just under two-thirds of the expenses. The campaign group also estimated that Prime Minister David Cameron’s reported plans for an additional 50 peers will cost the taxpayer at least £1.3m per year.
Cameron is expected to name dozens of new members to the House of Lords as soon as this week.
But the Electoral Reform Society, which is campaigning for a reform of the upper chamber, warned yesterday that the institution is “growing out of control” and is “shockingly out of date and unrepresentative”.
“We have shown that far from being a bastion of independence, non-partisan crossbench peers turn up far less frequently than party-political peers,” Darren Hughes, the campaign group’s deputy chief executive, said yesterday.
He added: “On top of that, we have found that over a third of Lords previously worked in politics – compared to less than one per cent of the British public.” The report also pointed out that 44 per cent of Lords list their main addresses in London and the south east, while 54 per cent are 70 or older.
“Our House of Lords looks nothing like the public whose decisions it impacts,” Hughes said, adding: “Almost half live in London or the south east, while there are just two peers under the age of 40.
“The Prime Minister said he ‘regrets’ not reforming the second House in the last parliament,” Hughes added. “It’s time for him to act – and finally fix our broken upper chamber.”
The Electoral Reform Society’s appeal comes less than one month after former government minister Lord Sewel resigned from the House of Lords following the release of a video allegedly showing him snorting cocaine with prostitutes, reviving calls for reform of the upper chamber.