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Who is the cleanest Lord in the House?

By Emily Reuben, Alice Tarleton

Updated on 28 January 2009

In the wake of the cash for amendments scandal, Channel 4 News online and More4 News went in search of the cleanest, most hard-working peers.

The prime minister said today he was "deeply concerned" by the allegations surrounding four Labour peers who, The Sunday Times found, were allegedly prepared to amend legislation in return for payment.

The affair has focused attention on peers' outside earnings - more than four fifths of the 732 Lords have declared financial interests such as jobs or consultancies.

To showcase the other side of the story, we compiled a chart of the backbench peers who are most active in parliament and free of any financial concerns that could be seen to have a bearing on their lordly duties.

"Cleanest" peers: top 26

Name of peer / Number of debates spoken in in the last yr (source: www.theyworkforyou.com)

1st: Baroness Howe of Idlicote* / 87
2nd: Lord Elystan-Morgan* / 84
3rd: Lord Campbell-Savours / 53
4th: Lord Stoddart of Swindon / 53
5th: Lord Clinton-Davis* / 44
6th: Lord Higgins* / 42
7th: Lord Campbell of Alloway / 40
Joint 8th: Baroness Turner of Camden* / 37
Joint 8th: Baroness Carnegy of Lour* / 37
10th: Lord Dearing* / 35
11th: Lord Walton of Detchant* / 34
Joint 12th: Lord Waddington* / 32
Joint 12th: Baroness Trumpington* / 32
14th: Lord Goodhart / 31
15th: Viscount Eccles* / 25
Joint 16th: Lord Trimble / 22
Joint 16th: Baroness Sharples / 22
Joint 18th: Lord Davies of Coity* / 21
Joint 18th: Lord Roberts of Conwy / 21
Joint 20th: Baroness Knight of Collingtree* / 20
Joint 20th Lord Wedderburn of Charlton * / 20
22nd: Lord Colwyn* / 18
Joint 23rd: Lord Sewel / 17
Joint 23rd: Baroness Linklater of Butterstone* / 17
Joint 25th: Lord Swinfen* / 15
Joint 25th: Baroness Park of Monmouth* / 15


(* indicates the peer declared non-financial interests - see below for more details)

Interview: Lord Campbell-Savours

How the list was compiled

We focused on backbenchers, missing out spokespeople and whips from across the house (as listed here http://www.parliament.uk/faq/lords_spokes.cfm).

According to the Lords code of conduct, members of the House of Lords have to list any interest that "might reasonably be thought to influence their actions" on a publicly available register.

Interests fall into two main categories - financial, and non-financial.

Financial interests

A number of financial interests have to be declared, including: consultancy, paid directorships, regular paid employment, shareholdings amounting to a controlling interest, employment by or any other financial interest in businesses involved in parliamentary lobbying, provisions of secretarial and research assistance by an outside body, and costs-paid visits made in the UK or abroad as a member of parliament (except those paid for from public funds).

That's not all: members should also register other financial interests depending on their significance.

The code lists, as examples, shareholdings not amounting to a controlling interest, landholdings apart from members' homes, the financial interests of a spouse, relative or friend, and hospitality or gifts which could reasonably be regarded as an incentive to support a particular cause or interest.

Only peers with no declared financial or paid interests whatsoever in the most recent version of the register qualified for inclusion in our cleanliness index.

Of course, this isn't to say that all of those with a declared financial interest are up to no good - far from it. And a member's financial interest could be as small as, say, owning and renting out a holiday cottage - they would still be excluded from the list.

In total, 599 of the 732 peers had at least one declared financial interest (this also includes two who indicated they benefited financially from a non-financial interest). The remainder included 126 backbenchers.

Non-financial interests

Peers also have to declare non-financial interests, including membership of public bodies such as hospital trusts and the governing bodies of universities or schools, trusteeships of museums, galleries or similar bodies, or acting as an office-holder or trustee in pressure groups, trade unions, voluntary or not-for-profit organisations.

Our list indicates whether the peer declared non-financial interests, or simply had no relevant interests at all.

Parliamentary activity

The peers were then cross-referenced with a measure of their activeness in the House of Lords - the number of debates they spoke in over the past year as measured by Theyworkforyou (www.theyworkforyou.com).

This isn't a perfect measurement - it doesn't tell you anything about the nature of what the peer said, and it doesn't take into account the many useful things they could be doing outside of parliamentary debates.

But it gives us a more useful idea of how active they are on the floor of the house than simply the measure of how many days they attended parliament - members could be seen to be influenced by the incentive of claimable allowances for each day they show up.

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