Wednesday, 8 June 2011


Last year members of the House of Lords were found to be cheating on their expenses.

Out of hundreds who treated expenses as a salary and put in false claims (the Noble Lord Hanningfield said, as he was being carted off to prison for getting caught, that around 85% of his peers [yes, I know] did it,) only two have gone to prison for the theft, a three have been suspended from parliament.

Nothing was ever checked in the House of Lords. Every claim was taken on “parole”. The Noble Lords and Ladies were assumed to actually be Noble. Big mistake, it seems. It turns out that blue bloods are just like ordinary people.

Something had to be done, so, rather than treat them like ordinary people in the employ of the government who have to provide a receipt for absolutely everything, the lords were given a flat rate of £300 a day for turning up. They don’t have to do anything and they seem to be able to claim travel expenses on top of that. Again, it’s all taken on the “parole” of the noble personage.

The top people’s salary review team were responsible for this new “tighter” control over thieving in high places. They said that it would be cost neutral.

Guess what... They were wrong. But they weren’t just a little wrong. No, they were wrong with style.

In the first three months of operation, compared to the same period last year, the scheme has cost a full 41% more expensive. That is to say, their Noblenesses have sconed us for almost half as much again as under the old scheme, where you will remember old Hanningfield reckoned that pretty much all of them were on the fiddle.

25 peers claimed more than £16,000 in the period from October-December 2010, (that’s £64,000 a year). Nine claimed over £17,000, and three more than £18,000.

Lord Sewel, Labour, claimed nearly £24,000, equivalent to an annual cost to the taxpayer of £96,000 a year. And remember his claims would be his take home pay. There is no tax and insurance on expenses. It’s not like a little cleaning job at Sainsbury’s.
The Earl of Courtown, an hereditary peer and Old Etonian (Conservatives) was next most expensive member at just under £19,000. He spoke in only one debate last year. That’s a lot of dosh for one short speech even from an old Etonian.

Other expenses junkies were Lord Rogan, ex-president of the Ulster Unionist Party (£18,515), Lord Bates, a Conservative ex-MP (£18,044), and Labour’s Lord Brett (£17,854).

The total bill for peers’ expenses was £5,541,450 in daily allowances, £502,982 for travel to and from Parliament, and £8,139 for postage.

So as the rest of us have got poorer, bankers treated themselves to massive salary increases for fear that their bonuses were going to be stopped; Prince Charles negotiated with Osborne a new deal for the royals which, it was said, was likely to make him Britain’s richest ever king (although why they need any more money is beyond me). Now we discover that lords got a 41% increase. Fair or

Pics: A selection of noblemen and women with very dubious records on honesty, one of which must have been expendable and we sent down as an example pour encourager les autres, maybe. More likely fed to the lions to keep the plebs happy.


  1. Since MPs introduced "family friendly" hours the Commons has more or less given up on revising ill thought-out government legislation. The Lords do their best make good the deficiency - and many work very hard at it.

    I was in a Lords Committee room when the bell went for the Commons to adjourn. "That's it" said our Chairman, the redoubtable Old Labour Peer, Lord Stoddart of Swindon,
    "They've all gone home in time to put the babies to bed. There's nobody minding the shop now".

    It is regrettable that their Lordships' House followed the Commons by introducing a highly corruptible system of perks and expenses and even more regrettable (in both houses) that those caught with their fingers in the till have not been permanently excluded from the service of their respective Houses.

    In the Commons, the rot started in 1971 when they outsourced their terms and conditions of service to something called The Top Salaries Review Body. A very prescient MP said that the existing system was adequate and foresaw the evils which flowed from the
    decision to approximate an MP's role to a regular, salaried, pensionable career very clearly. An occasion when most people outside the House would, I think, agree that Enoch was right.

  2. Not sure it is fair referring to the HoL incumbents as "blue bloods" although there are still some hereditary Lords there, most are now planted or rewarded for services rendered to political parties.

  3. Thanks for your comment on my bit Tris; I can't reply of course...


  4. Mr S:

    I just can’t see why in a 21st century democracy we have any parliamentary chamber which is not elected by the population. If they have power then it is an affront to even the pretence of democracy, and if they have no power, then why are they there, except to massage their own self importance, regardless if they are there because their great great grandfather did the King a favour or they themselves did a favour to Maggie or Tony.

    Why they are “noble”, why they are allowed to change their names, why they have sons, and even daughters who can inherit their titles, and if they were appointed recently, have children who are allowed to call themselves “honourable” (yes, Mick Martin’s son is the Honourable Paul Martin)... I simply do not know.

    Of course some of them are decent fellows; probably they do make an effort for England. In a collection of 700+ men and women there are bound to be a few that are OK.

    If they want all the titles and fripperies they should do it for nothing, or for the very barest expenses. Second class travel and Travel Lodges overnight, just like I would have to do. If, as it seems they wish to be paid for what they do, then they need to put themselves up for election, just like senators in other countries.

    I’m not sure about who should set wages for MPs. I suspect that they should be paid the average wage, which I think is dropping like a stone at the moment to about £25,000. I see no reason why they should be paid more than twice that amount. Ministers could have their wages pegged to a suitable rank in the Civil Service. After all, it is the senior civil servants who really do the work in government departments. To distinguish them from staff working for them, ministers could have an extra £10-£20 a week. It’s the kind of sum that would make the distinction in private industry.

    Clearly the Senior Salaries people are about as much use as a chocolate tea pot, and the idea of leaving these thieving gits to set their own remuneration without guide is laughable, given that most of them would happily vote for a 50% increase minutes after allowing civil servants only 5%.

  5. Anon: All of them got there by appointment at some stage or another. Some have ancestors who did the king a favour (let him sleep with thier wives, or daughters [or sons]) or lent him/gave him money). More recently someone did the PM a favour (stood down from his seat to let someone else in, or let him sleep with his wife, lent him money etc...)

    None of them actually have or even had blue blood. They are all just the same as you and me.

    Most of them aren't even noble! Shock horror.

  6. Hey Conan.

    I hope you're feeling better now. Danny suggested using Google Chrome, you might be able to post on your own blog with it...

  7. Tris,

    Expenses? Why have them? Last time I thought about this (long running) issue the answer was simple; staring us all in the face. Put up their take-home pay, provide hotel-room acomodation near Westminster (for them to rent, nightly basis) and remove all expenses altogether.

    Problem solved. Oh, and introduce a flogging penalty for any elected representative caught stealing from the taxpayers. We could make a good gameshow out of it, get the viewers to vote on who gets what % of floggings ... total tele-hit!

  8. When I look at what the electoral process mostly gives us in the Commons, I sometimes think that the hereditary principle has something going for it!

    Before Blair packed the place with his cronies (and Cameron has repeated the process), the House of Lords was a bit like a bumble bee. Some aeronautical engineers will tell you that a bumble bee should not be able to fly - but it still manages it! In spite of the apparently inbuilt Tory majority the old House of Lords gave Mrs. Thatcher no end of problems in sending back legislation.

    There is some need for a brake on mere numerical democracy. A majority in the hands of a demagogue can be extremely tyrannical. A lynch mob is "democratic"! John Adams of the American Founding Fathers warned against too "democratical" a constitution "Else we will but have exchanged King George for King Numbers".

    Of course Gilbert & Sullivan had an idea that
    "A duke's exalted station be available by competitive examination" (The Fairy Queen in Iolanthe).

    I rather like things which have "just growed" are quirky, illogical and work - as long as they are not taken too seriously!

  9. Well, yes, I can see that Mr S.

    And I do too, as long as they don't cost any money!!

    If earls and marquises want to play mediaeval politics, I suppose it doesn’t hurt too much even if some of them are quite mad, and others drunks and drug addicts.

    But they should do it for the privilege of having the title and being allowed to wear silly costumes and work in a royal palace; they should not charge us, and they should probably be allowed to fade gently away.

    As a Scot their machinations rarely affect me because our legislature in mono cameral, so it’s not much to do with me (except I have to help pay for it).

  10. Ha ha ha ha Dean... I love the flogging part.

    Can I have a job as flogger...? I'd be without mercy!!!