THE Bishop of Chester was the highest expenses claimant among bishops sitting in the House of Lords between October 2010 and November 2011.
The Rt Rev Dr Peter Forster, who attended the House on 97 days, claimed a total of £27,600 in attendance allowances and £7,309 in travel expenses.
Bishop Peter, who receives an annual stipend of £40,410 for his general role, was previously highlighted as the highest claimer in 2008-2009 when he claimed a total of £27,696.
Under current regulations, peers are given the choice of three daily rates to cover their hotel and living expenses in London – £300, £150 or nothing. However they do not have to provide receipts and can also claim travel expenses.
The Bishop’s spokesman Stephen Regan said: “The bishop’s attendance in the House of Lords was higher than usual for the period in question because of his membership of the Joint Select Committee on privacy and injunctions, which required him to attend weekly for several months. And obviously, being from the north of England he has greater accommodation costs than many other bishops.”
The Church of England has a guaranteed presence in the Lords reflecting its position as the country’s established religion with a total of 26 Lords Spiritual.
Bishops can attend on an ad hoc basis when matters of interest are before it.
Under government plans, the number of bishops in the Lords would be reduced to 12 – to allow other faiths representation.
Lord Strathclyde said on behalf of the Government: “Bishops are eligible for the daily allowance and all the travel allowances, like any other peer. I think that the House regards the bishops as providing very good value.”