The Lords of Cumbria - Who are they and how much do they claim?

4 October 2017 9:28AM

Cumbria's representatives in the House of Lords cost the taxpayer more than £400,000 last year - but all played an active role in debates and voted regularly.

The Electoral Reform Society has called for sweeping changes to parliament's upper chamber after it revealed one in seven lords failed to speak at all last year, despite each claiming an average of £11,091 in expenses from the public purse.

But an exclusive analysis of Cumbria's lords by CN Group has found all spoke regularly during debates and voted hundreds of times during the 2016/17 year, claiming £417,049 in attendance and travel expenses to London.

Lord Liddle, from Wigton, who spoke 41 times and voted on 62 occasions, said Cumbria's lords actively pursued their roles.

 Lord Liddle.

Lord Liddle.

Overall, I think the House of Lords is the cheapest parliamentary house in the world

"We're quite a good lot really," he added.

But the 64-year-old, who is also a member of Cumbria County Council, went on: "I think the report has made the error of not looking at the work of members in committees which does take up a lot of time.

"However I think that generally there is some justification in the criticism it makes.

"There are probably a core of people who are very active.

"But there are another core of about 200 people who don't do much other than turn up to vote, and another 200 who turn up occasionally when it suits them."

Another of Cumbria's upper chamber representatives, Lord Inglewood, echoed the comments.

 Lord Inglewood.

Lord Inglewood.

North Cumbria's Lord Inglewood, who claimed £34,800 in allowance and £6,756 in travel, spoke on 26 occasions during House of Lords debates and voted 89 times.

He added: "You have a purpose to be there. Part of it is to speak in the chamber and part of it is doing other things.

"I think you ought to speak from time to time. But just because you don't speak very much doesn't mean you are not contributing in other ways.

"I have chaired a committee which was very rewarding but which took up an enormous amount of time."

Cumbria's most prolific speaker in the House of Lords last year was Oliver Eden, the Rt Hon The Lord Henley, 63, who spoke 129 times during debates and voted on 91 occasions during 2016/17.

But he claimed only an average sum in expenses over the period: £17,400 in attendance and £2,896 in travel.

The highest attendance claimant was Lord Blencathra, 64, with £43,650 for the year.

James Newcombe, the Bishop of Carlisle, is one of 25 senior clergy in the House of Lords.

 James Newcombe, the Bishop of Carlisle

James Newcombe, the Bishop of Carlisle

The position is secondary to his high ranking, full time role within the Church of England.

The Rt Hon Newcombe spoke least during debates last year - twice - and voted only once. But he also claimed the smallest allowance at £5,100 and nothing for travel.

One of Cumbria's most recognisable members is television presenter Lord Bragg of Wigton.

 Lord Bragg of Wigton. Author and broadcaster Melvyn Bragg

Lord Bragg of Wigton. Author and broadcaster Melvyn Bragg

Lord Melvyn Bragg claimed £30,000 in expenses, spoke on nine occasions and voted 43 times. As a London resident, he claimed no travel for the year.

Lord Alfred Dubs, 84, was perhaps the member who generated the most media attention last year over his calls for the Government to take in more unaccompanied child refugees. It became known as the Dubs Amendment.

The Rt Hon The Lord Dubs, who himself arrived in this country as a refugee aged six, spoke 54 times and voted 78 times. His claim for the year was £43,350 and zero for travel.

 Lord Dubs.

Lord Dubs.

Baron Clark of Windermere, 77, voted 80 times last year and spoke during debates on a further 43 occasions. He claimed an allowance of £41,700.

Lord Clark said: "I think the report is fair comment really. I say that as someone who speaks regularly and attends regularly.

"But there are lords who don't turn up at all. They don't claim expenses either, so you can't criticise them for that, but they're not really doing the job."

 Lord David Clark of Windermere

Lord David Clark of Windermere

Lord Clark added: "Overall, I think the House of Lords is the cheapest parliamentary house in the world.

"Peers are not paid, they claim expenses and I don't think it would be possible at the moment to come up with a better system to scrutinise the work of the Government and its civil servants.

"We also need eminent people with huge experience and expertise on any number of subjects and that is what we have within the House of Lords."

The House of Lords - Factfile

:: There are 798 Lords.

:: None are elected. Some inherit their place with a family title, others are granted a peerage by the Prime Minister, with a small number also nominated by the leader of the opposition party.

::The House of Lords helps scrutinise bills - or draft laws - during debates in the chamber.

:: It is also there to hold the government to account.

What does the Electoral Reform Society report say?

The Electoral Reform Society looked into the speaking and voting records of all members of the House of Lords as well as the expenses they claimed during the 2016/17 year.

They found:

:: 115 Lords - one in seven - failed to speak at all

:: Yet each still claimed an average of £11,091 each in expenses

:: 18 peers failed to vote on a single occasion

:: They still claimed a total of £93,162

Cumbria's Lords - Who's who, and what did they claim?

Lord Blencathra

–Spoke 30 times and voted 92 times

–Claimed £43,650 in allowance and £2,942 in travel

–Total: £46,592

Lord Cavendish

–Spoke five times and voted 77 times

–Claimed £17,250 in allowance and £7,048 in travel

–Total: £24,298

Lord Henley

–Spoke 129 times and voted 91 times

–Claimed £17,400 in allowance and £2,896 in travel

–Total: £19,996

Lord Inglewood

–Spoke 26 times and voted 89 times

–Claimed £34,800 in allowance and £6,756 in travel

–Total: £41,256

Lord Judd–

–Spoke 96 times and voted 81 times

–Claimed £36,450 in allowance and £3,672 in travel

–Total: £40,122

Lord Liddle

–Spoke 41 times and voted 62 times

–Claimed £31,800 in allowance and £3,139 in travel

–Total: £34,939

Lord Dubs

–Spoke 54 times and voted 62 times

–Claimed £43,350 in allowance and no travel

–Total: £43,350

Lord Clark

–Spoke 43 times and voted 80 times

–Claimed £41,700 and £11,715 in travel

–Total: £53,415

Lord Bragg

–Spoke nine times and voted 43 times

–Claimed £30,000 and no travel

–Total: £30,000

Lord Hutton of Furness

–Spoke six times and voted 21 times

–Claimed £31,800 and no travel

–Total: £31,800

Lord Campbell-Savours

–Spoke 92 times and voted 84 times

–Claimed £44,700 in allowance and £879 in travel

–Total: £45,579

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