Lords Members' Allowances to be replaced by lower Working Allowances
The House of Lords Commission is recommending that the current daily attendance allowance be temporarily replaced by a lower working allowance set at half the current rate.
New restrictions have also been set out for entitlement for the working allowance. Members who claim will be required to actively participate in the House's virtual proceedings – by for example taking part in a formal Select Committee meeting or speaking in a debate. Members will not be able to claim for simply following proceedings online or in the Chamber.
Under the proposals, the current allowance system will be suspended and the maximum daily rate that peers can claim for taking part in Chamber and committee business will be cut from £323 per day to £162. The new scheme has been drawn up to reflect the new ways of working where most of the business of the House is being conducted remotely and follows health advice.
The proposed new arrangements will lead to a major saving in the cost of the House of Lords. Unlike the Commons, members of the House of Lords are not paid salaries and under the proposed scheme will only be able to claim the working allowance after direct recorded participation in the business of the House. The reduction in individual payments and the fewer sittings now taking place will lead to significant budgetary savings.
The House of Lords Commission has recommended this cut for two reasons: first, the present allowance system is based on costs such as accommodation and subsistence for staying in London which may no longer be incurred and second, the allowance itself will align with the amount Members can currently claim when taking part in parliamentary business away from Westminster (for example, select committee visits or as part of official parliamentary delegations).
The reduced rate will apply whether Members are actively participating online in a virtual proceeding or in the reduced number of physical sittings that will continue for the time being in the House of Lords Chamber.
Commenting Lord Fowler, the Lord Speaker and Chairman of the House of Lords Commission, said:
“Members of the House of Lords are not paid a salary but have been able to claim an attendance allowance for attending Westminster and undertaking Parliamentary work. However, like many others around the country we are now working differently with much of our business conducted remotely.
“To reflect this, we are proposing to replace the current allowance with a lower working allowance that reflects the fact that Members are not incurring the same overhead costs while carrying out their work from home.
“Members of the Lords work hard and do a vital job scrutinising public policy and holding the Government to account. That is more important than ever in the current crisis, and the allowance we are proposing will ensure that this work can continue without the need for Members to go against the public health guidance by travelling into Westminster to sit on the red benches in the House of Lords chamber or in a committee room. We will keep the new system under review.”