House of Lords: Financial Support for Members — Motion to Approve

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:55 pm on 14th December 2009.

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Photo of Lord Martin of Springburn Lord Martin of Springburn Crossbench 6:55 pm, 14th December 2009

My Lords, I do not wish to try the patience of the House. However, I welcome the proposal to put quarterly information about our expenses on the website. We can learn from our younger Parliaments in Scotland and Wales, which provide full information in quarterly reports on their websites. I do not know whether that is the case in Northern Ireland. I understand that that happened in Scotland only a few weeks ago, and that hardly any inquiries were made, or mischief entered into, by the media. Only last week, the 2008-09 information concerning the other place was issued, but there was misrepresentation by the media in spite of the facts being made available. I think that the quarterly system would be very welcome and very helpful to us all.

Some noble Lords have said that it might be a good idea for IPSA to examine this House. It should be remembered that the 646 Members in the other place can claim additional costs of approximately £24,000. They can claim £103 for secretarial costs, £14,000 for an office allowance and £25 per day for subsistence. That is a substantial amount compared with noble Lords' allowances. Mention has been made today, and in an earlier debate, that IPSA will cost the House of Commons £8 million. However, we should remember that that £8 million relates only to the payment of MPs' salaries and expenses. There will still be a Finance Department, or, as we older Members used to call it, a Fees Office, which will pay for the security staff, the cleaners, the Metropolitan Police, the badge messengers and all the other staff who look after the House. The £8 million accounts for only a small part of that administration; I do not know what the rest costs. To suggest that IPSA administers the expenses of this House is like taking a hammer to crack a walnut.