Belfast Telegraph

NI peer hits back after exposé over his expenses

By Ryan Wilkinson

A peer from Northern Ireland has defended claiming thousands of pounds for attending the House of Lords over a period in which he did not vote or speak.

Lord Carswell, a crossbencher, was said to have claimed £7,800 for 29 days' attendance, but did not vote or make any written or spoken contribution in the chamber.

Peers are not paid a salary, but can claim up to £300 as a daily allowance when they attend the House and undertake parliamentary work.

The Sunday Times claimed some multi-millionaire peers use their House of Lords perks to claim up to £40,000 a year while making little or no contribution to debates, questions or committees. Lord Paul, one of Britain's wealthiest individuals, last year received £40,800 in expenses for 136 days in Parliament but made no contributions in votes or questions and was not a member of a committee, the Sunday Times claimed.

There is no suggestion they broke any rules or the law in these latest claims.

Lord Carswell defended himself, saying that he had surgery during the recorded period, which restricted his activities in the House.

The former Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland told the newspaper: "Outside this period you will find that I have spoken and voted on a number of matters. I am scrupulous about sitting and listening to debates and I discuss the content with other peers outside the chamber to our mutual benefit."

The reported findings come after a former lord speaker said some peers "make no contribution whatsoever" and alleged one kept a taxi waiting while they clocked on.

House of Lords officials said any members found to be abusing the system would be suspended, although they highlighted that peers' work does not always appear on official records.

The Sunday Times analysed the latest expenses records and cross-referenced them with the parliamentary record of peers' contributions to debates, committees and votes.

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