Members of the House of Lords are unpaid. They are currently remunerated through a system of allowances and expenses.
Recently, there have been a number of questions raised about this system. Given the need to maintain public confidence in the system, and to have clarity over the system's basis and operation, the House Committee decided to Commission an independent external review at its meeting on 19 May.
The Committee yesterday (9 June) decided to ask the Prime Minister to authorise the SSRB to undertake that review.
The statement is set out below.
"On 19 May 2009 I informed the House that the House Committee had agreed to commission an independent external review of the financial support available to Members of the House and that detailed proposals relating to the terms of reference and conduct of the review would be discussed at the Committee’s next meeting on 23 June.
"Many Members responded to this announcement by stressing the need to act urgently. On 9 June, therefore, the House Committee agreed by correspondence to seek an external, independent review of financial support for Members conducted by the Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB) with the following terms of reference:
“To review options for the system of financial support for Members of the House of Lords, given its current role and composition; and to make recommendations.
"In conducting the review, SSRB will have regard to:
- Clarity and transparency
- Accountability and public acceptability
- Value for money
- Differing attendance patterns of Members
- The geographical spread of the membership of the House
- The financial consequences for Members in participating in the work of the House
- Schemes operated in comparable circumstances by other institutions
"It is expected that the SSRB will complete this review by the end of October 2009.
"The Lord Speaker, as Chair of the House Committee, wrote to the Prime Minister on 9 June asking him to refer the House Committee proposal to the SSRB. The Prime Minister announced today that he has now done so.
"The SSRB are eager to ensure that Members contribute to the review and they will be putting forward proposals for consultation as soon as possible."
The House Committee is the principal supervisory body for the House of Lords Administration, with particular responsibility for financial matters. Its terms of reference are:
"To set the policy framework for the administration of the House and to provide non-executive guidance to the Management Board; to approve the House’s strategic, business and financial plans; to agree the annual Estimates and Supplementary Estimates; to supervise the arrangements relating to Members’ expenses; and to approve the House of Lords Annual Report."
The House Committee is chaired by the Lord Speaker, and its members include the Chairman of Committees, the leaders of the three main parties, the Convenor of the Crossbench Peers and six other backbench Members of the Lords.
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