Therefore, in the short term—we do not want to wait until 29 June to do this; we need to start now—we need to define what work in the House means, because it does not mean just intervening in the Chamber, so that we can introduce a new revised scheme when we have the hybrid Parliament working in June and onwards. That is normal and must be taken into account, and I thank the Lords Commission for doing so in its latest decision. This is not a lifestyle issue; it is a question of livelihood. As I have said to my Front-Benchers, and I am grateful for their support in this, the work of the House of Lords is often like a swan; it appears to be going smoothly on top, but if only one could see the furious paddling underneath, including those of us on the Teams channels, WhatsApp channels and email channels managing our business during the days and the enormous amount of work that Peers are involved in that is never seen. 7. In a time of great crisis when people are making great sacrifices, it is absolutely right that we follow suit. Has my noble friend, for whom I have great respect, fought for my interest? In particular, we have had to make difficult decisions in relation to allowances, none of which has been taken lightly by members of the commission. I also thank the noble Baroness the Leader for her introduction, for making sure that the information for today was available early and for the supplementary information that has been provided this morning. I have different points to make, but I welcome his contribution. The maximum entitlements applicable for the purposes of paragraph 8 are– a) 10 additional days per month (if paragraph 8(a) applies), and b) 5 additional days per month (if paragraph 8(b) applies), provided that for any month the total number of days claimed for does not exceed the total number of sitting days of the House in that month. “I think to try to do a 180 and suggest this is now a salary raises a lot more questions than it answers.”, Mr Hughes added: “A lot of peers are retired and should stay at home during this outbreak, so if they are going to claim anything it should be a few pounds a week towards their broadband costs.”. Holding the Government to account is an essential role of Parliament, and that requires the possibility of not just asking questions of government but, from time to time, saying to government, “No, you’ve got it wrong.” In the case of this Government’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis, it is clear that there have been misjudgments and mistakes, some very serious.
I have different points to make, but I welcome his contribution. We must recognise that we all need to get back to normal working as soon as possible, before we forget what that is, because working in these circumstances is a lot harder for everybody in many ways.
Indeed, it has made a great success of it. I therefore think that, to move forward, we need to get our own House in order by injecting some transparency and accountability into the system.
In respect of virtual attendance at a sitting or proceeding of this House Members should only be entitled to an allowance if– a) they speak during the sitting or proceeding, or b) they are otherwise necessary to the sitting or proceeding, or c) they are on the Speaker’s List for the item of business and present when that business is taken (and in that case, the entitlement is only to claim once in respect of that item). I raise this today because we have an opportunity. I do not believe that the Procedure Committee has enabled us to do that, so it needs to take immediate radical, remedial action before our constitutional duties are severely undermined. a) at a sitting or virtual proceeding of this House, b) at a meeting or virtual meeting of a Committee of this House, or.
I focused more on the institutional than the individual consequences, which other noble Lords spoke to— I shall not name everyone who participated. Members of the other place are envious of our remote voting system.
All decisions are about compromise. My Lords, when the Minister introduced this, she made it sound so easy—as though the commission met and agreed these proposals, when it was actually a long, winding and rocky road to find agreement, because we were dealing with contentious matters. The whole House wants that, and I hope the Government want that too. In respect of attendance at a Committee of this House, only Members of that Committee or Members authorised to attend a meeting of such a Committee by the Chair should be entitled to an allowance. I think it is wrong that the travel allowance changes should be rigidly backdated.
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