House of Lords expenses: Lord Falconer calls for reform

Monday, February 24, 2020

Lord Charlie Falconer has called for an elected element to be introduced to the House of Lords to make peers more accountable.

It comes after the second parliamentary chamber was forced to defend itself over the weekend after it was reported that the peers’ expenses and daily attendance allowance had risen by 29 per cent last year.

According to the Sunday Times, a total of more than £1 million was claimed by more than 110 peers despite them not making any spoken or written contribution to the House during that period.

The average tax-free payment was thought to be £30,287 – the House said it was “busy and effective” and put the pay rise down to an increased number of sitting days.

While Lord Falconer defended the Upper House as doing “a good service in the constitution”, he said changing the system would help tackle the row over expenses.

The Labour Life peer told talkRADIO’s Mike Graham: “I do think the house of lords does need reform.

“I think it’s wrong that you have a wholly appointed house, there needs to be an elected element and if there is an elected element then that will make those people who are peers accountable to electorate and will make it very, very much harder for peers to, as it were, take expenses and do nothing – which is broadly what very few do.”

However, Lord Falconer also expressed criticism of the House of Commons for having stalled a modernisation of the Lords.

He said: “The reason why there is not reform is because the Commons will not agree to any elected element because they’re worried that once there’s an elected element in the Lords, the Lords will be equal in its authority to the Commons.

“They just will not agree to reform, not because they disagree, but because as a group they don’t want there to be an alternative democratic force within the Palace of Westminster.”

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