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Peers in House of Lords charged taxpayers more than £46,000 on day of tributes to Prince Philip

Written by on 12/08/2021

Peers in the House of Lords charged taxpayers more than £46,000 on their day of tributes to Prince Philip.

In a Freedom of Information request by Sky News, it was revealed that 162 peers in the upper chamber claimed a daily allowance for 12 April.

Only 65 of those who claimed actually made a speech to pay their respects to the Queen’s late husband.

Peers paid tribute to Prince Philip in the House of Lords on 12 April
Image: Peers paid tribute to Prince Philip in the House of Lords on 12 April

Peers are allowed to claim a £323 allowance for each day they attend the House of Lords, or £162 if they participate virtually from home.

On 12 April, following the news of Prince Philip‘s death three days earlier, proceedings in the House of Lords were dedicated solely to more than five-and-a-half hours of tributes.

Of the 97 peers who claimed a daily allowance despite not speaking in the chamber that day, 14 peers were deputy chairmen of committees – a role that allows them to deputise for the Lord Speaker if necessary.

A further 52 peers are either members of a Lords committee or hold a frontbench role for their parties.

More on Prince Philip

Meanwhile, 31 peers who claimed the allowance and did not speak in the chamber that day appear to have no other formal role in the Lords.

The list for Prince Philip's funeral has been released
Image: The Duke of Edinburgh died on 9 April at the age of 99. Pic: AP

Campaigners for reform of the House of Lords claimed that some peers saw the upper house as a “cash cow”.

The Freedom of Information request also showed that two peers who spoke in the Lords chamber to deliver tributes to Prince Philip claimed for the full £323 allowance, despite making their speeches via video link.

And one peer claimed the full allowance despite official records showing they withdrew from speaking in the chamber that day.

The House of Lords said there were no discrepancies between the official record of peers who attended parliament in person on 12 April and claims for the full £323 daily allowance.

Darren Hughes, the chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society, told Sky News: “This is the kind of expenses scandal in the unelected Lords which just seems to keep repeating itself.

“While many peers work hard, too many appear to see the Lords as a cash cow – eroding trust in the work of parliament as a whole.

“There is simply no way for voters to kick out those who fall short of the standards we need in the UK’s revising chamber.”

“Right now, the Lords looks more like a private member’s club than the effective scrutiny body Britain deserves.

“The unelected Lords is devoid of accountability, and that has to change.

“In 2021, it is outrageous that prime ministers can appoint unlimited numbers of donors, party figures and friends to claim expenses and vote on our laws for life.”

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Duke of Edinburgh laid to rest

Currently, there are about 800 members who are eligible to take part in the work of the House of Lords.

This means the Lords is the second-largest legislative chamber in the world behind China’s National People’s Congress.

The former Lord Speaker, Lord Fowler, last year criticised Prime Minister Boris Johnson for making a raft of new appointments to the House of Lords to increase the number of peers.

During his time as Lord Speaker, Lord Fowler had backed efforts to reduce the size of the Lords to 600 members.

There are 650 MPs in the House of Commons.

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A House of Lords spokesperson told Sky News that peers are “responsible for ensuring that claims they make are in accordance with the rules contained in the code of conduct” and that a “large majority of members take these duties seriously and undertake them with diligence”.

They said that “any breaches will be investigated under the code of conduct procedure”.

The spokesperson added: “The sitting of the House for tributes to the Duke of Edinburgh on Monday 12 April constituted parliamentary business and so members were allowed to claim daily attendance allowance if they qualified for it and wished to do so.

“Members who physically attended Westminster on that date would have been entitled to claim their full daily attendance allowance even if they didn’t speak in the chamber.

“Members who were unable to be in the chamber due to capacity issues, but had their attendance verified in specified parts of the estate, were also entitled to claim the full allowance if they were present when the House was sitting.

“Members of the House of Lords bring a wealth of experience and expertise from outside parliament into the various aspects of their role in scrutinising and improving legislation and holding the government to account.

“Not all the work that members undertake and which attracts an allowance is visible – much of it is done behind the scenes including select committee work, researching issues and meeting campaigners and members of the public.”

 Sky News

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