Peers and MPs should use security cards to tap in and out of parliament so the public can see how much time they are spending in Westminster, a senior MP has proposed.
Tommy Sheppard, SNP spokesman in the Commons, has written to the Speakers of both houses and the head of security in the Palace of Westminster asking them to consider his proposal. He suggests it would not only help transparency, but would also aid the authorities in emergency situations.
The proposal follows claims that a small number of peers have abused a system that allows them to claim £300 a day once they have signed in to the House of Lords. MPs are paid a salary of £74,000 a year.
Lord Fowler, the Speaker in the Lords, announced last week that the current pass system would be replaced in the autumn.
Most parliamentarians and staff use their security passes and a personalised code to enter the parliamentary estate through security gates. As they exit, however, they can walk through gates without the use of their security pass.
Sheppard said using Oyster-style cards would mean the public could monitor how long MPs and peers have been at work and whether they were value for money.
Such a system would also be cost-effective and offer the benefit of allowing the authorities to know how many people are in the building in the event of a terrorist attack or a fire, the MP for Edinburgh East said.
“There are legitimate concerns about the costs of the House of Lords. Some are concerned they are claiming £300 for a day’s work and not putting in a full shift. I want to prove that wrong by enhancing the security system so it records how long they spend in parliament.”
Members of the Lords are not asked to use their pass codes if they enter the parliamentary estate through the peers’ entrance. At present, there is no way of recording whether peers, MPs or staff have left the estate from one of more than eight exits.
In March, the former Lord Speaker Lady D’Souza claimed she saw one peer keep a cab running as he rushed in and out of the Lords to claim his daily allowance.