MSPs call for an end to House of Lords expenses ‘racket’

Tommy Sheppard MP
Tommy Sheppard MP

Strathkelvin and Bearsden’s MSP says the reality of cash “stolen” by some House of Lords members will “make the public’s blood boil”.

And Clydebank and Milngavie MSP Gil Paterson complains: “These are the same people who have been voting through and influencing hard-line austerity and benefit cuts, causing record high use of foodbanks in my constituency.

The East Dunbartonshire MSPs were reacting to a move by SNP House of Lords spokesman Tommy Sheppard MP to bring in a system to check on whether House of Lords members and MPs are really justifying the attendance expenses they claim.

He has written to the authorities at Westminster to argue a new attendance system for peers - obliging them to “swipe” in and out – would both improve security and help to establish for how long Lords claiming a daily £300 allowance for coming into the building were actually present.

Mr Sheppard argues the current system is “simply unacceptable” and adds to the argument that the House of Lords is an “affront to democracy”.

He said: “There are so many shortcomings in the way the House of Lords functions – it is an utter anachronism.

“Members of the House of Lords operate under such privileged rules - which are clearly open to abuse - and it is simply unacceptable.

“In the last month for which figures are available (Feb 2017) – SNP research shows that 14 per cent of those Lords who claimed the maximum £4,200 for that month made no recorded contribution to parliament whatsoever.

“My suggestions will allow unelected members of the Lords to demonstrate that they put in a full shift for their £300 daily allowance – or not.”

He added: “There are now over 800 Lords and we know that the Tories want to increase their number even more whilst decreasing the size of the House of Commons.

“While we have to put up with this laughable chamber we should insist on greater accountability”.

Agreeing with the accountability plan, Rhona Mackay said: “The very fact this is happening, and that there seems to be this of entitlement among some peers is a slap in the face to ordinary people in Scotland and the rest of the UK.

“It will rightly make the public’s blood boil when they hear of wealthy lords, ladies, barons and dames turning up to essentially steal £300 from UK taxpayers.

Gil Paterson added: “Regardless of whether you agree with an unelected second chamber, I am sure there is wide consensus among the public to end this racket as a matter of urgency.”