Lord Laird questions 'costing taxpayer millions'
An Ulster peer says he has been “gagged” after the authorities imposed a limit on questions in the House of Lords.
Lord Laird tops the list of questioners each year— tabling so many his inquiries are thought to have run up a bill of millions of pounds.
Now his efforts have been curtailed after Lords agreed that the cost of responding were getting out of control.
The Ulster Unionist peer used to ask six questions every sitting day — the maximum permitted under the old rules.
Now that has been roughly halved with a new weekly limit of 12 questions imposed on peers.
Last night he told the Belfast Telegraph he would continue to press the authorities, vowing to write directly to ministers demanding answers.
He said: “I think I was getting too near the mark in too many areas. It’s very stupid, but it’s typical of the way the House of Lords is trying to run the image of the House of Lords right down.
“I am trying to hold the Government to account — but those of us who are regular askers of questions have been gagged.”
The cost to the Government of answering each written question had been previously listed as £159 — but Lord Brabazon, chairman of Committees in the House, said the true cost was more like £240.