On the day that the Chancellor performs his celebrated Scrooge act, with a very wintery “Autumn Statement”, I noticed that the cost of the House of Lords has risen by a record 38% to £109 million (up from £78m last year), for the most recent 12 month period. Allowances to members have risen by over 20% from £18.7m to £22.6m.
Before you comment that the House of Commons has risen by almost as much I am bound to point out that this figure is, according to the explanatory notes, distorted by an abnormally low figure in the previous year because of the absence of MPs from Westminster during the 2010 General Election period.
Any time now there are expected to be some 80 – 100 new Peers nominated. By definition they are likely to be more active and assiduous in their attendance, so there will be yet another hike in the cost.
I predicted recently that without comprehensive reform, the cost of allowances to members would more than double in the next decade as they did in the last (from £8.41m in 2000/01 to £18.7m in 2010/11). In fact, if the costs increased by 20% again next year and the year after, it will only take until 2014/15 for the figure to reach £39m – double that of 2010/11. At the same rate of growth, the price of Peers’ allowances would rise to nearly £117m by 2020/21, more than six times the 2010/11 figure.
These numbers should at least cause those Labour and Conservative MPs who made dire predictions about the cost of a mainly elected House of 450 members to reconsider.