04:37 GMT +315 October 2019
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    Britain's Queen Elizabeth, rear centre left, delivers her speech at the State Opening of Parliament, in the House of Lords in London Wednesday May 8, 2013.

    Don't Scrap Pensioner Benefits, Scrap House of Bores

    © AP Photo / Toby Melville
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    A report from the British Parliament's second chamber, the House of Lords, has called for pensioner benefits, such as free bus passes and the winter fuel allowance, to be axed.

    I've got a much better idea. Let's axe the House of Lords. The Lords is an expensive anachronism which serves no useful purpose other than to waste taxpayers money. The phrase 'gravy train' goes nowhere near to describing it.

    Those members who don't get a paid a salary can claim a flat rate 'attendance allowance' of £153 or £305 for each sitting day they attend the house. There is no minimum time you have to spend in the chamber to claim the allowance, so in theory you could just pop in, pop out, and be £153 richer. Some in fact do just that. In 2017 the Guardian quoted Lady D'Souza, a former Lords Speaker, in which she said a peer ran into the House 'presumably to show he attended', while a taxi sat outside with the engine running.  'I mean that's not normal, but it is something that does happen', Lady D'Souza said.

    Wouldn't you love a job where you could just collect £153 or £305 a day without having to do anything?

    The House of Lords has been described, by a former Liberal Democrat Chief Whip, Paul Tyler, as the 'best day care centre for the elderly in London'.  It could also be likened to a luxury private members club, where the bill is footed by those who don't get any of the benefits of membership.

    You'd think given the cushy number they're on the Lords wouldn't want to do anything to draw too much attention to themselves. But those feather-bedded, taxpayer-subsidised parasites now have the nerve to call for the benefits of other pensioners, to be scrapped, under the guise of promoting 'intergenerational fairness'!

    It really is taking the word 'chutzpah' to whole new levels, isn't it?

    In 2017, the Electoral Reform Society revealed that 455 Lords had claimed more than the average take home pay of full-time employees during the 2016/7 session, despite the House sitting for just 141 days. 33 inactive peers- who failed to speak in any debates, serve on any committee, or table any written questions,   picked up £462,510 in tax-free expenses — claiming an average of £746 per vote. 109 peers who failed to speak at all in the Lords in 2016/7 pocketed a total of £1,095,071 in expenses. Silence has seldom been so well rewarded.

    When you consider what they get for what they do (or rather don't do), the House of Lords even makes fat-cat Eurocrats in Brussels appear hard-working.

    Ridiculously and rather obscenely the House of Lords is the second largest legislative assembly in the world. There are currently 862 members. Only China's National Peoples Congress is bigger. Even if you maintain that Britain needs some form of second chamber, you cannot possibly justify it containing so many people.

    The US Senate after all has just 100 members for a country approximately forty times the size of the UK. Russia is about seventy times the size of the UK and there are still only 170 members in its Federation Council. If the US and Russia were to copy Britain's example, then their upper houses would contain 34,480 senators and 60,340 councillors respectively. That clearly would be absurd, so why do we put up with it in Britain?

    The House of Lords is not just undemocratic, but anti-democratic. The vast majority of people in it are there through political patronage. Donate to party funds, write articles in favour of the Establishment, and have the 'right contacts' among the political elite and there's a fair chance you'll end up there, earning £305 a day for sleeping on the benches.  The 'reform' of the Lords, under Blair, which led to most hereditary peers losing their rights to sit in the Chamber and many more 'life peers' being appointed, actually made things worse. Abolition and not reform was, and remains, the best policy.  As well as being the right thing to do democratically, it would save us a small fortune.

    The daily allowance and travel costs for the Lords in 2016/7 came to over £19m. Austerity? As far the upper house is concerned there is no austerity. The 'cuts' are for poorer folk. But as bad as things are now, they could get even worse.

    The Electoral Reform Society predicts that if current trends continue there will 1,000 members of the Lords by 2031, costing us annually around £83m.

    Only last spring, Prime Minister Theresa May nominated nine new Life Peers, including two former Cabinet ministers and four former Tory MPs, while among the nominations of Jeremy Corbyn, Labour leader, was a former Labour party general secretary.

    At what point are we going to say 'Enough is enough'? At what point are taxpayers going to cry 'Sorry, but we refuse to pay for this nonsense any more'?

    Perhaps now that they have been foolish enough to go after pensioner's benefits, there will be a new impetus to the campaign to get rid of the Lords. The abolition of the House of Unelected Subsidised Scroungers and Utter Hypocrites really can't come a day too soon.

    The views expressed in this article are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

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