This week John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, suggested that it was time to cut the numbers in the House of Lords. Currently there are 798 members, compared with 650 MPs in the Commons. They are unelected owing their posts to patronage, birthright and the Church of England. Bercow wants to reduce to 400, which makes sense as there is a limit of 400 physical seats. More relevant, in the current climate, is the financial saving.
In April, the last month for which expenses are published, the Lords sat for 8 days. 711 members attended at least once and 251 attended every day. In total, they claimed £1.2 million in expenses, that’s £150,000 per day.
In a week when NHS workers requested a pay rise and HMRC warned that they cannot afford the extra staff needed to deliver customs and immigration checks after Brexit, it is right to ask if funds should be diverted from the expenses of peers to front line wages.