Legislator paid £15,000 to “to learn and meet people”

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Legislator-for-life Digby Jones has taken £15,000 in expenses for a period in which he neither spoke in a House of Lords debate nor asked a question.

He has not spoken in debate since April 2016. But he has claimed £15,290 in expenses for that period.

The legislator has spoken just three times during four years. He has not been a member of any select committee and has asked no questions of ministers recently. He has spoken in debates only seven times between April 2016..

Mr Jones justified his behaviour with the claim that it was his responsibility as a legislator to “to learn and meet people”.

An investigation by the Electoral Reform Society has revealed that legislators-for-life who have not spoken in Parliament for a year have taken nearly £1.3m in expenses and allowances.

115 legislators, one in seven, did not speak at all in the 2016/17 session. But they took an average of £11,091 each. Eighteen legislators did not vote at all but took £93,162.

£4,086,764 was paid to the 36% of legislators who spoke five times or less in the past year. Many attended only to vote

According to the Society 167 legislators made 10 or fewer spoken contributions but claimed more than the average take-home salary.

Legislators who voted ten or less times claimed £1,032,653 in 2016/17. And £7.3m was paid to legislators who spoke ten times or less. 131 legislators spoke and voted ten times or fewer but were paid £658,314 in 2016/17.

A minority of 10 legislators, 1.16% of the total, accounted for over a fifth of spoken contributions to the work of the unelected chamber.

The Society commented that despite being the second largest legislative chamber in the world, most of the House of Lords’ huge costs benefit those who contribute the least to its work. The most active 300 legislators claim only half the expenses.