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Lord Taylor of Blackburn: My Lords, may I--

Lord Harmar-Nicholls: My Lords, there is a distinction--

Lord Monkswell: My Lords--

Noble Lords: Order!

Viscount Cranborne: My Lords, I am reminded of my time in another place. I shall, of course, be guided by your Lordships, but in view of the strong feelings that this matter clearly engenders in your Lordships' House, and the fact that we have a great deal of business to get through this afternoon, I wonder whether your Lordships might feel it sensible to listen to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Monkswell, in support of his amendment, and for other noble Lords to deliver themselves of their opinions afterwards.

Lord Harmar-Nicholls: My Lords--

Lord Monkswell: My Lords--

Noble Lords: Order!

Viscount Cranborne: My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Dean. I am not, in any way, Speaker of your Lordships' House and I think it is thoroughly undesirable for this House to have a Speaker. I hope I am right in thinking that my noble friend is perhaps suggesting against the will of the House that he should intervene at the moment. I will listen to what he has to say with the greatest of interest, but I wonder whether it would be possible for the House to listen to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Monkswell.

Lord Monkswell: My Lords--

Noble Lords: Order!

Viscount Cranborne: My Lords, I have to confess that I had hoped we would conduct these proceedings with somewhat greater decorum than we have managed so far. My noble friend is a very experienced parliamentarian. I appeal to his experience and, indeed, his better nature. I assure him that I shall listen to what he has to say in due course.

Lord Monkswell rose to move, as an amendment to the above Motion, at end to insert ("after the Leader of the House has consulted all Members of the House to discover how many Lords in receipt of a Writ of Summons are unable to obey their Writs on a daily basis because of inadequate allowances and when he has reported his findings to the House.").

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The noble Lord said: My Lords, I must, first, apologise to the House, because in submitting this amendment I had no idea that it might cause any consternation.

In moving this amendment I should like to review some facts; put forward an argument for more information; and seek the support of noble Lords in the name of the effective involvement of all Members of your Lordships' House. I shall tell your Lordships what this amendment is not about. It might be felt that I am trying to curry favour with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in another place who both urged restraint on the increase in ministerial salaries. I am not trying to do that. This amendment is not about stopping or curtailing the salary increases.

Members of your Lordships' House and Members of the House of Commons are all Members of Parliament. Parliament sits for approximately 140 days per year. Members in the Commons will be paid £307 per sitting day. Members in the Lords have an allowance of £33 per sitting day. Members in the Commons have a second homes allowance of £85.50 per sitting day. Members in the Lords have a second homes allowance of £74 per sitting day. Members in the Commons have an office costs allowance of £331 per sitting day plus free postage while Members in your Lordships' House have a secretarial allowance of £31 per day and no free postage.

We need also to be aware that the average daily attendance in your Lordships' House is 374, or 31 per cent. of the total membership. The maximum daily attendance in the past year was 517, or 43 per cent. That was last week when we had a big debate and vote on the sale of married quarters. Our total membership is 1,195 Peers in receipt of a Writ of Summons. So 678 Peers who had received their Writ of Summons did not attend on that day--the highest attendance day in recent memory.

Some of those 678 Members will be old and infirm and therefore, for reasons of health, unable to attend your Lordships' House. But we need to be concerned that some Members of your Lordships' House in receipt of a Writ of Summons may be unable to obey that Writ of Summons because of inadequate allowances.

It is interesting to note that the Senior Salaries Review Body in its investigations into the subject of Peers' allowances interviewed only active Peers. There has been no attempt to glean the responses of those Members of your Lordships' House who may not be active.

We may also be trespassing on the goodwill and private income of our colleagues who do attend. I shall give details of a case study: an elderly Peer--I will not name him--takes a taxi to the House in the morning. He spends £5 and arrives at 10.30 a.m. He buys a cup of coffee: 35p; he has lunch in the Peers' Dining Room: £6; later in the afternoon he has a cup of tea and a muffin: £1.15. We need to recognise that cream cakes cost extra. Dinner in the evening will cost him £21.35. At the rise of the House at 10.30 p.m., he takes a taxi home. That is another £5. His total expenditure during the day for attending your Lordships' House is £39.85. That is before he has paid for a decent suit, shirt cleaning, and other costs which may be incurred. The daily allowance is £33. In that case, for

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working a 12-hour day in your Lordships' House, the Peer subsidises the House by £6.85, and that is without having a drink.

My amendment requests the Leader of the House to consult all Members of the House to discover how many Lords in receipt of a Writ of Summons are unable to obey that Writ on a daily basis because of inadequate allowances, and to report his findings to the House. That information is important because I am sure that even Ministers would be unhappy about receiving an increase in their pay if they knew that Members of your Lordships' House in receipt of a Writ of Summons from Her Majesty the Queen felt unable to take part in your Lordships' business. I beg to move.

Moved, as an amendment to the above Motion, at end to insert ("after the Leader of the House has consulted all Members of the House to discover how many Lords in receipt of a Writ of Summons are unable to obey their Writs on a daily basis because of inadequate allowances and when he has reported his findings to the House.")--(Lord Monkswell.)

Lord Harmar-Nicholls: My Lords, there is a distinct difference in both the importance and the presentation of the amendment and the statement made by the Leader of the House. Following the statement by the Leader of the House, I want to ask him a question about the constitutional standing of this House.

I am not interested in Back-Bench arguments on the price of coffee and cream cakes that we have just heard, but I am interested in seeing that our standing as part of the parliamentary system is preserved. I want to ask my noble friend what efforts he has made to avoid the distinction between junior Ministers in the other place and junior Ministers here. Under the constitution, many Members of this Chamber have to be part of the Government. I should like to know whether they are truly Ministers when they are appointed or whether they are some down-graded type of Minister who comes rather lower.

In 1911 everyone agreed to give the other place all the powers relating to finance. However, we preserved our right to have our Ministers as part of the Government. Under the arrangement as I understand it, and as explained by my noble friend, that means that in terms of payment there is a distinction to the disadvantage of Ministers who sit in this House. I believe that that is bad and an acceptance that Ministers in this House have a lower status than those in the other place. One is either a Minister or one is not. One is not a part-time psuedo-Minister if one is a Minister in this House but a proper Minister if you are a Member of the other place.

On the basis of wishing to preserve the constitutional rights of this House, I did not want my point to be entangled with an argument about how much we should pay for our cream cakes.

3.30 p.m.

Lord Taylor of Blackburn: My Lords, I, too, tried to speak on the original Motion. I did not wish to become involved in the amendment. I wish to say to the noble Viscount the Leader of the House--and I hope that he

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is listening to me--that I find the matter extremely distasteful. I have said so previously, and I shall continue to say it while it remains the procedure that recommendations that come before both Houses of Parliament are moved by Members who will benefit from them. That is most distasteful for the ordinary Members of this House who are obliged to accept the recommendations.

These matters should be dealt with in the same way as the Government have recommended that companies should review their directors' salaries. There should be an independent body within the House, rather than having the Leader of the House moving the Motion, which is promptly seconded by the Leader of the Opposition. Surely it would be more practical for the Chairman of Committees, who is independent, to move the Motion rather than two politically involved Members of the House.


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