A House of Lords peer has been criticised for claiming up to £5,700 a month for walking to work from her £4.5m home 200 yards away in Westminster. Baroness Wilcox a former Tory minister has been accused of exploiting a new tax free payment of up to £300 a day. The 74 year old former Cadbury’s Schweppes director who takes home £74,400 in parliamentary attendance allowances has not broken any rules (1).
Many other peers are thought to be claiming the allowance despite despite living in and around the Westminster area. Labour MP John Mann said, “It’s a scandal as big as the MPs expenses scandal. “There is a lack of transparency”, he said. “There is no evidence that these people stay around even when they sign for their money”, he continued (2). That confirms the impression I had, namely, that these parasites just stick their heads around the corner before making their way to the subsidized canteen for their lunch.
Analysis by the Daily Mail found that 124 of the 161 Lords that live in London claimed the daily allowance this year. They claimed £763, 350 in two months. It’s estimated that the annual bill will come in at around a staggering £3.8 million (4). The total costs of Lords expenses in 2013/14 was a staggering £21.4m (5). We’re all in it together to get the deficit down!
Lord Paul, whose steel business is worth £2.2 billion received more than £40,000 of our money for attending Westminster last year (6). He is one of three peers with combined family fortunes estimated at more than £4.5 billion who together were paid more than £100,000 in tax payers funded attendance allowances last year. The revelation raises fresh questions about the unelected multi-millionaires given a crucial role in making Britain’s laws.
Darren Hughes of the Electoral Reform Society said, “our unelected chamber is in dire need of a clean out” (9). According to radio presenter Nick Abbot they also get to claim expenses for travel, parking, taxis, trains, business class on planes, top hotels, postage, office expenses and IT equipment. If they manage to wangle a meeting they get to claim for two extra days on either side of it. They are also entitled to free trips away on “parliamentary business”, says Abbot.
There’s also committee meetings and parliamentary delegations and travel with the armed forces, and to outreach programmes, and to the Scottish parliament, European parliamentary business and on and so forth. To top it all, none of it is taxable (unlike, for example job seekers allowance) and they don’t even have to declare any of it on their tax returns. We’re all in it together to get the deficit down!