The House of Lords has defended itself as “busy and effective” – after it emerged that peers paid themselves almost a third more in the last year.
Peers’ expenses and daily attendance allowance rose by 29% in the year to last March to £23 million, the Sunday Times reported.
A total of more than £1m was claimed by more than 110 peers despite them not making any spoken or written contribution to the House during that period.
The average tax-free payment was £30,827 – higher than the median salary of a UK worker, it added.
The newspaper also reported that 31 lords claimed more in expenses than the standard take-home pay of an MP.
But in a move to defend the cost increase, a spokesperson for the House of Lords said that the expense was likely down to the fact that members had more sitting days.
“The increase in the costs of House of Lords allowances in the 2018/19 financial year is largely due to a 25% increase in the number of days that the House sat, rising from 129 in 2017/18 to 161 in 2018/19.
“As members of the Lords can generally only claim allowances for days they attend the House any increase in sitting days is likely to produce an increase in the cost of member’s allowances.”
It said the House sat for fewer days in 2017/18 because of the general election.
The spokesman described the House as a “busy and effective revising chamber which does an important job scrutinising legislation and holding the Government to account”.
He added: “In the period covered by the Sunday Times article it (the House) made 2,513 changes to legislation; members tabled 8,072 written questions and 153 reports were produced by committees.”
SNP MP Tommy Sheppard branded the House of Lords “a national embarrassment” and called for it to be abolished.
He said: “The House of Lords has absolutely no place in a modern democracy – allowing the Westminster parties to reward selfish donors, cronies and politicians rejected by the voters completely erodes trust in our politics.
“Allowing peers to profit from their status, without any accountability to the taxpayers who pay for them to live the high-life, is completely undemocratic.”
Willie Sullivan, a senior director at the Electoral Reform Society, branded the Lords “a rolling expenses scandal”.
He told the newspaper: “Unelected lords are taking advantage of the lack of scrutiny in the upper chamber.
“The Lords is a rolling expenses scandal – and we’ll see this year after year unless there is reform.”