New Lords expenses system revealed

By staff

A new system for Lords expenses, which would limit peers to £300 a day allowances, has been announced by Lord Strathclyde, leader of the Lords.

The reform would scrap various types of Lords expenses claims, including the highly contentious ‘overnight subsistence’ allowance, and replace them with a flat £300 sum – or £150 for half a day’s work.

One peer, Lord Hanningfield, is currently facing charges of fraud, and officials have been keen to install a new simplified system to restore faith in the institution.

Most controversies bedevilling the House of Lords arose from the overnight subsistence, which allowed £174 a night to peers who had to stay away from their main home while working in the House.

The rule book gave no definition of ‘main home’, however, allowing some peers to designate abandoned properties or those belonging to their relatives.

The current level of ‘day subsistence’, which covers meals and travel, is £86.50. Peers are given £75-a-day office costs as well. Both sums will be included in the flat £300 payment.

The reforms are slightly less generous than those suggested by the Senior Salaries Review Board, which opted for a £340 flat rate.

The total cost of a peer’s housing, subsistence and office costs will be £45,000 under the new plans, down from £53,000.

No independent body will police the system, as the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) is doing in the Commons, raising concerns about transparency, although Lord Strathclyde is expected to announce safeguards when he addresses the House.