Thursday, 21 September 2017

Britain was and still is, very much a country for wealthy, lazy, old lords

The are 826 members of the Second Legislative Chamber and 76% are men, mostly old men, since average age is 69 years and what has the Electoral Reform Society found out ? Their analysis of the voting, speaking and expenses records in the Lords, show a ‘something for nothing’ culture among the old men and peers who haven’t spoken in the Lords for an entire year have claimed nearly £1.3m in expenses and allowances.

Apparently, 115 Lords, that's one in seven of the total, failed to speak at all in the 2016/17 session, despite claiming an average of £11,091 a year, while 18 peers failed to turn up to vote on legislation , but still claimed a total of £93,162.

In addition, the findings show that most peers - 58% of those attending the whole 2016/17 session, now claim more than the average full-time Brit’s take-home pay for what is essentially a part-time role since in the 2016-17 Session they only sat for a total of 141 days. Those days were constituted of :
Mondays and Tuesdays from 2.30pm
Wednesdays from 3pm
Thursdays from 11am
some Fridays from 10am

with the proviso that the House of Lords usually sits until 10-11pm, occasionally much later and sometimes all night.

Peers who voted ten times or fewer claimed £1,032,653 in 2016/17 and £4,086,764 has been claimed by the 36% of peers who spoke five times or fewer in the past year, many of whom don't speak at all and simply turn up to vote.

Darren Hughes, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, used these figures to make a number of points :

“These figures are a damning indictment of the state of the House of Lords. There appears to be a growing ‘something for nothing’ culture in our Upper House, with tidy sums being claimed by those who barely contribute. And there are a worrying number of couch-potato peers and lobby-fodder Lords at a time when there is plenty to scrutinise, ostensibly the Upper Chamber’s role." 

and :

* "Over £4m is being claimed by those who speak only a handful of times a year shows just how dire this undemocratic situation has become."

* "It’s completely unacceptable that peers can claim thousands without even speaking or voting in the House and it highlights the reality that there is no accountability for peers."

* "Rather than spending immense sums on peers who fail to even speak up in Parliament, we need a fairly-elected upper House with a much smaller number of salaried peers ending the rolling expenses scandal the Chamber has become."

* "We need to move to a much smaller Upper Chamber, one that is properly accountable, so that the Lords is no longer seen as a retirement home for party donors but something fit for the Mother of all Parliaments."

“From lobby-fodder Lords who only turn up to vote, to couch-potato peers who fail to turn up at all, the situation in the Second Chamber is a scandal. Now let’s fix this broken House before the situation gets any worse.” 

'Tis the case in 2017. 'twas the case in 1917 and no doubt, 'twill be the case in 2117.

Britain, a country where, with wealth and privilege, nothing changes.

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