Peers are in line to receive a pay rise in return for accepting a series of reforms to their discredited expenses system. Members of the House of Lords will be paid £200 for every day they attend the chamber, up from the current £161.50, under changes proposed by an independent review of their expenses system. Despite the increase, they will still not have to produce any receipts to claim the allowance.
The plans drawn up by the Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB) would also see them given £20 more than MPs for overnight accommodation. While Sir Christopher Kelly has recommended that MPs be given £120 a night to cover hotel bills, their unelected colleagues are set to receive £140 a night.
The SSRB review rejected the idea of introducing an annual salary, but peers could still earn about £30,000 a year by turning up for every session in the Lords, with travel and overnight accommodation costs on top. The SSRB said that its reforms would "restore public confidence in the funding arrangements of the House of Lords". But the measures have already been criticised as too generous by some MPs.
John Mann, Labour MP for Bassetlaw, reacted angrily to the weakness of the reforms. "It's right that the rules should be made tighter so lazy lords can't exploit the system, but to give them a pay rise as reward for general abuse of expenses is madness," he said. "The Lords must be trying to create sympathy for the Commons. It's the only possible explanation."
Peers are currently entitled to claim £86.50 a day for food, drink and taxis, and an additional £75 for office costs, without producing a single receipt. Under the new system, they would still be spared from submitting receipts, but would have to declare that they had performed "appropriate parliamentary duties". Some Lords had been accused of turning up to the Lords only briefly, to pick up their daily allowance. They also face the introduction of a "clocking in" system. Peers will no longer be able to claim for mortgage payments, and will need to submit receipts for accommodation and travel costs.
The review of Lords expenses was ordered by Gordon Brown in the summer, following a series of alleged abuses of the system. Baroness Royall of Blaisdon, leader of the House of Lords, has now begun discussions with the other parties to ensure the changes are implemented. "Taken together with a new code of conduct for Members of the House which the House will be considering next week, these reforms will be a major step towards righting any wrongs in the House and towards putting our own House in order," she said.
Meanwhile, MPs have been notified by Commons authorities that use of the £10,000 "communications allowance", used to fund pamphlets and websites, is to be severely curtailed. The Members Estimates Committee has sent a letter to all MPs telling them that almost no claims on the allowance will be paid out from 1 January.
The note, signed by Terry Bird, director of operations at the Commons, states that only small surgery posters and some contractual costs will be reimbursed. Claims for the cost of newsletters, petitions, surveys, and websites will all be abolished. "In other words a ban on anything that can be put through the letter box" has been put in place, Mr Bird writes. The Kelly review recommended the communications allowance be abolished. Tories had long complained that it gave an unfair advantage to incumbent MPs.
Also yesterday, a Tory MP was ordered to pay back £1,945 of taxpayers' money after a watchdog ruled he had used it for party political campaigning. David Tredinnick, who represents Bosworth, was censured for including pictures of himself with David Cameron and other politicians in a leaflet published in the run up to local elections.Reuse content