Members of the House of Lords pocketed nearly £15m in taxpayers’ cash from daily allowances and expenses over the last year, new figures show.
Peers claimed £13.2m for their daily allowance between August 2020 and July this year, according to research by the House of Commons library.
The unelected politicians in the upper chamber claimed a further £1.7m in expenses, despite proceedings being done remotely during much of the period.
The SNP said the “ludicrous sums” showed why the Lords should be abolished – accusing Labour of backing away from previous promises to replace it with an elected second chamber.
Analysis by Nicola Sturgeon’s party found that, with 22,140 speeches made by peers last year, an average of £674 was claimed per contribution in allowance and expenses.
“The unelected House of Lords is a permanent stain on our democracy,” said Pete Wishart, the SNP’s shadow Commons leader.
“Taxpayers up and down the country will rightly feel aggrieved that their taxes are being spent – in ludicrous sums – on an undemocratic, outdated system,” he continued.
“Only by achieving independence can we finally rid ourselves of this toxic, undemocratic system once and for all.”
Peers do not take a salary for their role, but can claim a £323 allowance for each day they attend in person or £162 if they join the work of the Lords remotely.
In the run-up to the 2019 general election, the then Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn pledged to get rid of the “undemocratic anachronism” and replace it with an elected second chamber. But his successor, Sir Keir Starmer, has yet to formulate a clear position on the future of the Lords.
A Lords spokesperson pointed out that the latest annual figures represented a reduction in the total amount claimed on the previous year, “due to changes to working practices” during the pandemic.
“The House of Lords is a busy and effective chamber, scrutinising and improving laws that affect all of us and holding the government to account,” a spokesperson said.