Revealed: Peer claims £18,000 expenses for ‘doing nothing’
New House of Lords expenses scandal as member claimed ‘daily allowance’ to attend, despite never speaking or voting
A private health tycoon claimed £18,000 of expenses for attending the House of Lords in a year despite not speaking or casting a single vote, openDemocracy can reveal.
Khalid Hameed was appointed as a crossbench peer in 2007 but has rarely contributed, making just ten speeches in his entire parliamentary career.
That hasn’t stopped the 82-year-old from charging taxpayers tens of thousands of pounds simply for turning up.
Records show that he claimed £18,088 in tax-free “attendance allowance” in the 12 months until April 2022, despite having no record to show for his work.
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During that time, Hameed did not speak or vote in the House of Lords once, nor did he sit on any committees or submit any written questions to the government. In fact, there is no public record of him making any contributions at all in this period.
When asked to explain why he had claimed taxpayers’ money, the lord did not respond.
It is not the first time that Hameed has been caught claiming expenses without anything to show for it. In 2017, he was named and shamed by the Daily Mirror as one of several peers accused of pocketing tens of thousands of pounds each for “turning up and doing nothing”.
But more than five years on, he still appears to be raking in taxpayers’ money without contributing.
Rules state that members of the House of Lords can claim an allowance – currently worth £322 – for every day they turn up. They are entitled to this regardless of how nearby they live, or if they have any record to show for their work in parliament.
This means that Lord Hameed has technically not broken any rules. But today the Electoral Reform Society said that the peer’s claims “further highlight the urgent need for reform”, saying the House of Lords should change “from a bloated private members club into a representative chamber accountable the people of this country”.
An internal report in 2018 said the system was open to abuse, because there was “no practical way” of checking if the official attendance record is accurate. “The official attendance record is dependent upon officials accurately recognising and manually recording nearly 800 members,” it said. “Officials stated that differentiating between multiple members, some of whom are not present for long, was often quite challenging.”
Lord Hameed spent his career in senior positions in the private health sector – serving as chief executive of London International Hospital and chair of Alpha Hospitals Ltd, which faced serious criticism from care inspectors before being sold for £95m in 2015.
He now owns a gated four-storey mansion in Hampstead, north London, on a street where houses have sold for up to £13.6m.
Although he sits as a non-affiliated peer in the House of Lords, Hameed’s appointment came under scrutiny amid allegations surrounding donations to the Liberal Democrats by a private health firm to which he was linked.
The Times claimed that he had been proposed for the peerage by the Lib Dem party treasurer at the time, and fellow lord, Timothy Clement-Jones. It said the House of Lords’ vetting panel was unaware that the party’s single largest corporate donor was Alpha Healthcare, a sister company of Alpha Hospitals.
Both peers insisted that no rules were broken; Hameed told The Times he had never donated to any politicians and knew nothing about the payments.
In 2021, Hameed was one of 24 peers found to have broken parliamentary rules by failing to declare details of companies they run, following an investigation by openDemocracy. The peers were criticised by fellow parliamentarians at the time for a “shocking lack of transparency”.
In December, the Labour Party announced plans to “clear out” the House of Lords, calling the current setup “indefensible”.
The plan, written by former prime minister Gordon Brown, said it should be replaced by a smaller second chamber that was “more representative and democratic”.
It follows years of broken pledges by successive governments to reform the Lords, with repeated scandals over lobbying, expenses and donations.
Analysis by openDemocracy reveals Hameed is not alone in claiming thousands of pounds to attend, despite having very little to show for it.
One peer, David Goddard, claimed more than £67,000 over twelve months. More than £50,000 of this was paid directly to the Lib Dem lord as an attendance allowance, while the rest was claimed in travel expenses.
During the year, the peer made just six spoken contributions in the House of Lords chamber, on subjects including “pet CVs” and the delays he experienced on his train journey to London.
Goddard, who also sits on a couple of parliamentary committees, has previously claimed he was appointed to the Lords “on my merit”.
In another case, life peer Peter Hennessy claimed £5,192 in daily allowance without voting or speaking in the chamber.
Willie Sullivan, from the Electoral Reform Society, said: “The House of Lords as it currently exists risks causing serious and lasting harm to the public’s trust in democracy.
“This is why it needs to be replaced with an elected body, where those who sit in the Lords making our laws are chosen by the public who live under those laws”.
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