The number of peers voting on legislation in the House of Lords has soared since they began to get paid to do it from home, figures reveal.
The 780 members of the House of Lords usually receive an attendance allowance of £323 per day, due to the coronavirus outbreak and restrictions, peers were offered an incentive to vote, by taking part in a virtual sitting in the House of Lords the new rate for staying at home and voting is set at £162 a day.
This new rate seems to have been more than enough to get the peers to participate in our democracy
Peers qualify for the daily allowance because they are not given a salary and the handout is tax-free.
David Wilcock, the Whitehall correspondent for Mailonline investigated how this new rate to vote from home has changed voting patterns. The results show that peers have been more actively involved in the democratic process. The price for that involvement is £162 a day.
- Average number of peers voting since change is 497, according to new figures
- This figure is 137 higher than 360, the average for the past five years
- Some 561 of more than 800 peers voted on an amendment to the Fisheries Bill
- The Lords approved the £162 payments for peers voting from home this month
The average number of peers voting on each bill since a rule change allowed them to claim a £162-per day allowance if they vote at home at the start of the month was 497.
This figure is 137 higher than 360, the average for the past five years, the Telegraph reported.
Last week some 561 of the more than 800 peers voted on an amendment to the Fisheries Bill, the highest number in more than two years, at a cost of more than £90,000 to the taxpayer.
The Lords was accused of setting up a ‘cash for votes’ system after approving the £162 payments for peers to vote on laws from home earlier this month.
While MPs have been forced to come back to the House of Commons to vote, the upper house has set up an online voting system to allow members to ‘vote on a smartphone, laptop or other device.’
The Lords is taking extra precautions for its 800 members because they are in general older than MPs, and has kept the hybrid model abandoned by the Commons last week.
The House of Lords Commission agreed that voting should be recompensed in ‘line with voting in a division lobby when the House is sitting physically’.
It set the payment at a maximum of half the £324-per-day allowance peers were able to claim for physically turning up to the Lords before the pandemic.
They were already allowed to claim if they took part in debates or select committee hearings virtually. Peers are not paid an annual salary.
If all 800 peers were to vote it would set the cost at £129,600 per day.
A House of Lords spokesman said: ‘It is not surprising a significant number of members wanted to vote on crucial issues that will have a profound effect on people across the country.’