Special report:

The Lords will provide: Bishops paid up to £27,000 for attending Parliament

Controversy over the presence of 26 unelected bishops in the upper House will be exacerbated by revelations about how much some of them are being paid for the privilege

Bishops are claiming up to £27,000 a year in fixed-rate allowances to attend sessions of the House of Lords on top of their travel costs. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism and The Independent has found that some bishops are claiming up to the maximum fixed allowance for attending sessions in the second chamber while having full-time jobs in their dioceses. Others attend sessions in the House without making any claim on the public purse.

Under current regulations peers are given the choice of three daily rates to cover their hotel and living expenses in London – £300, £150 or nothing. However they do not have to provide receipts and can also claim travel expenses.

One bishop, known as a Lord Spiritual, is required to be in attendance and lead prayers on each day the House is sitting. But an analysis of the Lords allowances reveals that some bishops are spending up to two weeks in every month in the Lords – sometimes claiming the maximum allowances.

From October 2010 to November 2011:

* The Bishop of Chester attended the House on 97 days, claiming £27,600 in attendance allowances and £7,309 in travel expenses.

* The Bishop of Liverpool attended on 60 days, claiming £15,600 for attendance and £4,220 in expenses.

* Other significant claimers included the Bishop of Exeter (£11,550), the Bishop of Leicester (£8,850) and the Bishop of Wakefield (£10,650).

In contrast, a number of bishops regularly attended the House but did not claim any attendance allowances at all. The Bishop of Birmingham attended the House of Lords on 22 occasions but claimed no money. The Archbishop of York attended on 16 occasions and claimed nothing. The Archbishop of Canterbury also made no charge. However, the Bishop of London claimed £3,750 for attending the Lords on 24 occasions.

The Church of England has a guaranteed presence in the upper house reflecting its position as the country's established religion. Despite ongoing attempts to reduce their ranks or introduce representatives of other faiths, there are still places in the Lords for the 26 Lords Spiritual. Bishops can choose to attend on an ad hoc basis when matters of interest and concern to them are before it.

Under government plans, the number of bishops allowed to sit in the House of Lords would be reduced to 12 – with the idea of allowing some other faiths guaranteed representation.

Bishops live rent-free in their diocese, and to cover additional costs of running their historic homes they can draw upon allowances covered by the Church Commissioners, who manage the Church's £5 billion property and shares portfolio.

They are provided with official cars for travelling around their diocese, and can claim for entertaining guests, minor repairs to their homes, heating and lighting, gardeners and cleaners.

A spokesman for the Bishop of Chester told The Independent: "The bishop's attendance in the House of Lords was higher than usual for the period in question because of his membership of the Joint Select Committee on Privacy and Injunctions, which required him to attend weekly for several months. And being from the north, he has greater accommodation costs than many other bishops."

The Bishop of Leicester said the amount claimed would vary depending on how much time bishops had to spend in London, whether they could travel home after the session and whether they needed support for their work. He added: "None of this money goes to individual bishops to subsidise their stipends."

In a statement the Bishop of Exeter confirmed: "The Bishop of Exeter claims the allowance for which he is entitled for each day he is in the chamber. As he has to travel up from Devon, the allowance is used to cover overnight accommodation costs, incidental travel costs and subsistence, as well as journals and papers to inform work carried out while in the Lords. Travel to and from London is met by the House of Lords' credit card."

A Church of England spokesman said: "Lords Spiritual, like other members of the House of Lords, are able to claim reimbursement for the costs incurred in the exercise of their parliamentary duties. Claims for reimbursement for costs incurred by the Lords Spiritual under the parliamentary scheme are handled by each individual bishops' diocesan office. The amounts claimed as reimbursement by Lords Spiritual will inevitably vary from bishop to bishop as a reflection of a number of factors including time spent in the House, geographical distance from Westminster, policy portfolios held, committee membership and all party group activity."

Andrew Copson, of the British Humanist Association, said the claims underlined the need for reform. "Church of England bishops acquire their right to sit in our Parliament and claim public money for their expenses solely by virtue of their religion and position in the hierarchy of one denomination of one church," he said.

"Lords reform should end this mediaeval hangover of automatic reserved places for bishops in our legislature."

The House of Lords Exposed: In association with The Bureau of Investigative Journalism

News
Brand said he
people
Sport
Adam Lallana, Juan Cala, Andy Carroll and Cameron Jerome
sportThe latest news and scores
Voices
Actor Zac Efron
voicesTopless men? It's as bad as Page 3, says Howard Jacobson
Life & Style
Sampling wine in Turin
food + drink...and abstaining may be worse than drinking too much, says scientist
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
tvGrace Dent on TV
Arts & Entertainment
The monster rears its head as it roars into the sky
film
Voices
For the Love of God (2007) The diamond-encrusted skull that divided the art world failed to sell for
its $100m asking price. It was eventually bought by a consortium
which included the artist himself.
voicesYou can shove it, Mr Webb – I'll be having fun until the day I die, says Janet Street-Porter
Sport
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain drives in the rain during the qualifying session of the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix in Shanghai
sport
Extras
indybestFake it with 10 best self-tanners
Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
Sport
Steven Gerrard had to be talked into adopting a deeper role by his manager, Brendan Rodgers
sportThe city’s fight for justice after Hillsborough is embodied in Steven Gerrard, who's poised to lead his club to a remarkable triumph
News
peopleOrlando Bloom the pin-up hero is making a fresh start
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Life & Style
The North Korean TV advert for Taedonggang beer, that became a YouTube hit
food + drinkAnd what did it take to set up a taste test back in Wiltshire?
Arts & Entertainment
filmLife for Leslie Mann's can be challenging sometimes
Voices
For music lovers: John Cusack with his vinyl collection in 'High Fidelity'
voices...but don't forget rest of the year
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit