Page last updated at 12:02 GMT, Monday, 21 December 2009

More than 100 peers claim 50k expenses

House of Lords chamber
Peers do not get salaries but are entitled to various allowances

A hundred and three peers claimed more than £50,000 in expenses last year, according to House of Lords figures.

The amounts were released in a table of claims made between April 2008 and March 2009. Crossbencher Lord Laird, claimed the most at £73,804.

Labour's Baroness Adams, who did not speak in the Lords during the year, got the second most £66,896.

There were 134 official "sitting days" and average daily attendance was 400. Peers' claims totalled £19m overall.

Members of the House of Lords, apart from some ministers, do not get a salary, but can claim expenses for overnight stays, daily subsistence - such as food and drink - office costs and travel.

Under £5,000: 162
£5,001-£14,999: 125
£15,000-£24,999: 109
£25,000-£34,999: 70
£35,000-£44,999: 84
£45,000-£54,999: 107
£55,000-£64,999: 52
£65,000-£74,999: 6
From figures compiled by Lord Brabazon

But the system is in the process of being reviewed following a series of stories suggesting that some peers were abusing their £174-a-day overnight allowance.

The latest figures, compiled by Lord Brabazon, show that of peers attending the House of Lords, 162 claimed less than £5,000 - but 103 claimed more than £50,000.

Of those Lord Laird of Ulster was the most expensive - the only peer to claim more than £70,000. He defended his claims last week, saying he travelled from Northern Ireland to Westminster every week, attended for 145 days of the year and was a "full time member of the Lords".

"People want to be represented in parliament and that's what I do," he said.

Baroness Adams of Craiglea claimed the second highest amount but analysis of Hansard by the website They Work for You suggests she has not contributed to any Lords debates since her maiden speech in February 2006. Asked about her claims by the Daily Telegraph she declined to discuss them.

'An insult'

Peers and MPs expenses have been under scrutiny since the scandal over second homes expense claims by MPs broke in May.

Both systems are under review and it has been suggested that neither MPs nor peers be allowed to own taxpayer-subsidised properties in future - instead they should be able to claim towards rent, B&Bs and hotel costs.

But in a debate last week, several peers criticised proposals to phase out claims towards mortgage interest payments - one suggested the findings of the review by the Senior Salaries Review Body was an "insult".

The SSRB recommended that daily allowances for office costs and food, worth up to £161.50, be replaced by a £200 attendance fee but the overnight allowance be cut from £174 to £140 a night.

It also said peers should have to do more to prove their attendance and sign a declaration about which property is their "principal residence" - amid accusations some properties designated as peers' main homes were rarely used.

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