Cost of the House of Lords

Lord Norton

476062Some rather misleading figures have been bandied about in terms of the costs of the House of Lords, both in terms of the overall costs of the House and what allowances individual members may claim.  I may do a separate post commenting on costs, but in the interim I thought I would post a statement made on 28 January by the Chairman of Committees, Lord Brabazon, and which, as far as I am aware, did not get much, if any, coverage:

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House of Lords: Cost

Statement

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): Following a mistake in a Written Answer by HM Treasury on 26 November (WA 336), a number of reports have incorrectly stated that the overall cost of the House of Lords in the 2007-08 financial year was £305.4 million or £423,000 per capita. In fact, the current running costs in the 2007-08 financial year were £121.5 million or £168,000 per capita. The total cost of the House, if capital expenditure is included, was £152.5 million or £211,000 per capita.

The corrected Written Answer in the online version of Hansard gives a slightly higher total figure of £153.5 million, because it includes the cost of funding the British-American Parliamentary Group, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and the British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body.

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The total annual cost of the Lords is roughly a third of the cost of the Commons.  In the 2006-07 financial year, the cost per member was £108,000 in the Lords and £682,000 in the Commons.

21 comments for “Cost of the House of Lords

  1. Croft
    17/02/2009 at 2:18 pm

    Is there a reason for such a long delay between the written statement and the correction? It’s usually true that if you don’t get a correction in ASAP the original statement is all that is remembered.

    Does the house break costs down by grouping/party/type of peer? I’d be interested if there are differences between say ex-mps, professionals, heredities or cross benchers in respect to if they claim all they can for each day they attend.

  2. ladytizzy
    17/02/2009 at 4:29 pm

    In addition to Croft’s q’s, do Peers get a pension, and how much was spent on Commons pensions (06/07)?

    What was the per capita cost of an MEP and an MSP in 06/07?

    Thank you.

  3. lordnorton
    17/02/2009 at 5:22 pm

    Croft: I am not sure why there was a delay. As you say, without a quick response, the original statement is what tends to be remembered. The House does not, as far as I am aware, do a breakdown by category of peer. It would be possible to do an analysis based on the individual allowances claimed by peers. The Times did do an analysis based on the individual returns, but I do not recall that they provided that sort of breakdown.

    Ladytizzy: No there is no pension. There is no salary, so nothing to be pensionable. And as we serve for life, there is no point at which a pension would be relevant. I would need to check how much is paid for MPs’ pensions. On the per capita cost for MEPs and MSPs, I have not seen a figure for the latter. On the former, we did use to include a figure for comparative purposes. I think there have been problems with ensuring a clear like-for-like comparison. When a figure was calculated, it showed the per capita cost for a UK MEP was approximately ten times the figure for a peer.

  4. Croft
    17/02/2009 at 5:25 pm

    Ladytizzy:As they aren’t paid a salary they don’t have an pension. As I understand it (please correct me LNorton) they can only claim:

    Overnight accommodation: £174.00
    Day subsistence: £86.50
    Office costs: £75.00

    or @120 sitting days = £40,000 tax free.

    However, you can claim the above for attendance irrespective of what you actually do. There is no discrimination between someone there for 1hr and another from dawn to dusk.

    Ministers/The Opposition Leader and the Chief Whip/Chairman and Principal Deputy Chairman of Committees (not all committees) are paid a salary. There are also extra expenses of 474,927 a year for the Conservatives
    £237,126 a year for the Liberal Democrats and £61,003 a year to the Convenor of the Crossbench Peers.]

    The Commons has a system that pays the chairman of each committee an extra £12,500 or so something that the Lords doesn’t do, though I’ve long thought due to the extra workload some form of additional allowance or remuneration is justified.

  5. ladytizzy
    17/02/2009 at 10:13 pm

    Thank you, both. I’m sure you’ll have realised the pensions question was somewhat pointed but it is always good to see the facts and figures put up for newcomers to see! It may be worth putting recent comparative figures up on the sidebar. If a point is worth making it’s worth making over and over again. Apparently.

    I find it a bit odd that the gvt have tried to look tough on bonuses by saying they won’t allow payment for failures, when the Commons do exactly that when an MP loses their seat. Has the Senior Salaries Review Board reported on this yet?

  6. lordnorton
    18/02/2009 at 10:38 am

    Croft: I can confirm that your figures are correct. It would be possible for a peer to claim a litte more if they were to attend more than 120 days a session: the average number of days we sit each year is abvout 150. We can also claim a small amount to cover any expenses incurred on parliamentary duties during a recess (a maximum fo 40 days at £75 per day). Someone living outside London and attending every single sitting day throughout a session would thus be able to claim just over £50,000. However, if they live in London, they cannot claim the overnight acccommodation allowance. The maximum they could claim, if attending every single day throughout the session, would be less than £25,000. In practice, few peers are able to achieve a 100% attendance record and not all claim the maximum allowances they are entitled to claim.

    You are correct that no allowance is made for the amount of work actually done. There is no additional payment for committee service. A great many members do devote a great deal of time to committee work, but there is no additional payment for committee service. I have served as a committee chairman as well as serving on a number of committees, but I have always regarded it as part of the job. The work done is generally extremely productive and rewarding. I think members generally are willing and able to serve, so I would not consider payment as necessary to create an incentive. We also have a rotation rule – you serve for three sessions and are then ‘rotated off’. That allows for new blood to be brought in. If we were to be provided with some recompense for our work, I would prefer it to be in terms of some additional space for a researcher or intern than in terms of additional allowances. Unfortunately, we do not have the space for that.

    The money you mention that is paid to the parties (‘Cranborne money’, the equivalent of Short Money in the Commons) is to enable the parties to fulfil their parliamentary duties and is principally utilised in the employment of support staff.

  7. Croft
    18/02/2009 at 11:14 am

    I seem to remember MPs still occupy a section of the ‘lords’ office space’ – a throw back from the 50s or 60s? Has there been any effort within the house now that MPs have Portcullis House to get it back to give peers adequate space. Peers now have or have had 45+ new offices since ~04/5 Fielden House (err now Abingdon House.. so I’ve just noticed. Strange they’ve named the building after a peer whose heirs were excluded a few years before.) How many peers now have their own office -v- have to share a broom cupboard somewhere? (A clerk of the house told me years ago that many of the peers preferred the company – he was though talking of the old house)

    I wasn’t thinking of the increase in pay as an incentive more a recognition of the extra work done. However if researcher or intern is what peers would prefer who am I to argue. Has there ever been any move to put the Convenor of the Cross Benchers on salary. Baroness D’Souza might not want it but if she was leading a party in the Lords of 200+ she would doubtless have a salary as the official opposition does.

  8. lordnorton
    18/02/2009 at 1:00 pm

    Croft: The part of the red carpet territory of the House of Lords occupied by the House of Commons is the Pugin Room. It is a tea room. Given that the House of Commons now has a vastly expanded estate, including Portcullis House with its refreshment outlet, we see no reason why we should not reclaim the Pugin Room. We want it back, but the Commons does not want to give it back. Perhaps it is time to call on the Field Marshals in our ranks!

    The only peers (apart from those holding particular official positions, such as ministers and leader of the opposition) allocated individual offices are ex-prime ministers. Otherwise, rooms are shared. I think many of us do see the utility of sharing rooms: very useful for keeping up with what is going on and sharing political intelligence. I am not sure if any broom cupboard has been converted into an office, but what was a shower room certainly has been and presently houses two peers.

  9. Croft
    18/02/2009 at 1:51 pm

    Ah perhaps it now becomes clear Lord Norton, the secret reason the Commons has been dragging it’s feet on Lord’s reform all these years is they’re concerned they might have to give up the tea room! I suppose realistically there is not much you can do but keep raising the matter as I think you only have two Field Marshals left in the house which must be the lowest total since some time in the eighteenth century. (I seem to remember or perhaps misremember that the Lords uses ‘gallant lord’ for FMs where the commons uses it for any decorated officer because the Lords was in the C19 so stuffed full of ex-soldiers as to make it almost universal)

    The boom cupboard was more in jest about the space than the reality though I now have a delightful image of bathrobed peers strolling down the red carpet with loofas and soap in their hands :-)

    Do you get allocated a room with an occupant or do peers pair up between themselves?

  10. lordnorton
    18/02/2009 at 2:59 pm

    Croft: To be ‘noble and gallant’ you need to hold field rank (Field Marshall, Admiral of the Fleet, or Marshal of the RAF). To be ‘noble and learned’ you have to have held high judicial office. Our practice is therefore very different to that of the Commons.

    Another reason MPs may be reluctant to see an elected second chamber is that members are likely to demands offices and resources on a par with the elected members in the other chamber, which may mean enroaching on what is presently space occupied by the Commons.

    Desks are allocated when they become available. However, occupants of a room where there is a desk available may be asked if they are happy with peer X joining them. I have no experience of knowing what happens if the answer is ever no.

  11. Paul
    18/02/2009 at 4:16 pm

    Is there a breakdown of expenses, for each individual Peer, like in the House of Commons?

  12. lordnorton
    18/02/2009 at 5:06 pm

    Paul: There certainly is. You can find it at:
    http://www.parliament.uk/about_lords/holallowances/hol_expenses04.cfm

  13. Paul
    19/02/2009 at 9:47 am

    That contains a surprising amount of detail! Maybe you could do a posting on what, if anything, you think should be done with Peers who do not attend?

  14. Croft
    19/02/2009 at 12:47 pm

    @paul: A few peers at least are effectively non attenders by virtue of office eg Norfolk/Cholmondeley. Looking at that list I can see others who have taken official leave of absence.

  15. Anon
    08/01/2012 at 6:47 pm

    Ah, £305 million on a house of unelected Lords, that’s the democratic spirit!

  16. Charles Mitchell
    08/03/2012 at 12:09 pm

    Are there any poor Lords,I dont believe there are any. Why are they paid at all they should be honoured to be so called and do it for free,all of them have earned enough inthe past. If convicted of an offence they should lose title this would be common sense.Those who have a blemish in their character should never be called a Lord. Ifor one would never callanyone a lord. When did the so called Labour Party condone exmembers to be called a Lord.This is beyond belief.

  17. jack
    16/09/2012 at 1:55 pm

    why are there lords and peers at all, that make laws so you can get a monthly wage, how much money would this nation have if we were free of this old antiquated tradition, times need to change
    sorry if i offend but its true, what has a lord or peer done for me to deserve me paying taxes towards there lifestyle.. nothing, get out

  18. Lord Blagger
    17/09/2012 at 10:26 am

    600 million over a parliamentary term.

    I can think of far better things to do that fund a club for failed politicians.

  19. 03/06/2013 at 10:32 am

    Does this figure include maintenance/cleaning & toiletries ?

    • Lord Blagger
      03/06/2013 at 11:01 am

      Yep. It however excludes depreciation. You really have to dig around to find out that figure.

      So when you look at the true cost of one peer for one day, its more than a min wage earner pays in tax for an entire year.

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