Lord Leigh calls for expansion to House of Lords chamber

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The House of Lords paid tributes to the late prince on April 12 after he passed away. As many as 162 peers claimed a daily allowance for attending.

Of those who took the allowance, only 65 of them actually made a speech in tribute to the Duke.

Almost two-thirds claimed money for simply turning up to hear others talk.

Due to the pandemic, many joined the debate remotely, allowing them to claim the cash for simply logging in at home.

Those attending in person are allowed to claim £323 for the day while those participating virtually can claim £162.

The revelations came following a Freedom of Information request from Sky News.

Campaigners for House of Lords reform have accused some peers of treating the upper house as a “cash cow”.

Darren Hughes, the chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said: “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.”

There are currently more than 800 members of the House of Lords.

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The chamber has expanded dramatically since Boris Johnson entered No10, with dozens of new peers appointed to the upper chamber.

It is now the second-largest legislative chamber in the world, only behind China’s National People’s Congress.

A spokesman for the House of Lords defended peers for taking the allowance for paying tributes earlier this year.

They said: “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.”

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