A peer left a taxi running while he ran in to claim his daily allowance for attending the House of Lords, it was claimed in a BBC documentary.
Crossbench peer Baroness D’Sousa told BBC Two’s Meet The Lords on Monday that a peer had “ran in, presumably to show that he’d attended, and then ran out again while the taxi was still running”.
Members can claim between £150 and £300 for each sitting day they attend the House.
“There are, sad to say, many, many, many peers who contribute absolutely nothing but who claim the full allowance,” D’Sousa said.
In the documentary, which looked behind the scenes at the House of Lords over the course of the last year, former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Prescott likened the House of Lords to a job centre, with members turning up for cash.
“I remember when I was a seaman, unemployed, it was called the job centre, and if you wanted to get your unemployment money you ticked on, and if you didn’t get there you didn’t get it. That’s exactly what they’ve got here,” he said.
Lib Dem Lord Tyler called it the “best day care centre for the elderly in London”.
“Families can drop off him or her and make sure that the staff will look after them very well, nice meals subsidised by the tax-payer, and they can have a snooze in the afternoon in the chamber or in the library,” he said.
But not all peers were so scathing about the House of Lords. Labour’s Baroness King said the Lords were there “to do the serious work, without just being inundated with the political point scoring”.
“I look at what the Lords does and what the Commons does, and the comparative legislative chaos that is being sent from the Commons to the Lords, and I genuinely think, thank God the Lords are there,” she said.
Tory peer Lord Dobbs said the House of Lords took “all of the nonsense, rubbish, legislation” from the House of Commons and worked on it “a bit like a composting machine”.
“Whatever comes out the other end is always more fragrant and more fertile than what went in,” he said.
Meanwhile John Bird, a crossparty peer, explained he had started his career working in the House of Lords’ kitchens, but was asked to leave after two weeks for “trying to destroy capitalism”.
“There was an important woman who would say to me, if you don’t like it here you can always bugger off to Russia. And I’d say yeah but they’d shoot me before they’d shoot anybody else. And then she said I don’t care, dead or alive I don’t want you in the kitchen,” he told the programme.