Former CBI chief Digby Jones has been revealed as the most expensive member of the House of Lords in the West Midlands.
An analysis of his expenses claims shows that Lord Jones of Birmingham charged taxpayers £574.12 in allowances – for every day he attended Parliament.
By contrast, the region’s cheapest peer was Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, an ex NHS manager and councillor who is currently a Labour energy minister. He charged taxpayers just £42.77 for each day he turned up in the House of Lords.
Figures for Peers’ expenses are published annually by the Parliamentary authorities, but they have not received the same level of scrutiny as claims submitted by MPs.
Members of the House of Lords are not paid salaries and are entitled to fewer expenses than colleagues the House of Commons, but can charge taxpayers up to £174 a day for the cost of staying in London while they attend Parliament
They can also charge up to £86.50 a day for “subsistence”, including food, and travel costs at up to 40p per mile.
The costs are specifically linked to attending the House of Lords, and can only be charged for the days that Peers are present at Westminster.
And Peers who are also Ministers can charge up to £5,658 a year towards the cost of hiring a secretary.
The latest expenses figures show that Lord Jones claimed £24,687 for the period between April 2008 and March 2009, and attended the House of Lords 43 times, costing taxpayers £574.12 per appearance.
He might be expected to claim more than other Peers because he was a Minister in the Department for Business until October 2008. But his colleague Lord Rooker, the former MP for Perry Barr who was also a Minister in the same period, charged £36,398 to make 127 appearances in the Lords – a cost of £286.60 per appearance.
And Lord Hunt charged £5,560 for 32 appearances, or £42.77 per appearance, despite being a justice minister, environment minister and energy minster during the period.
The figures do not include Ministerial salaries, which are paid separately.
Another high claimer was The Earl of Shrewsbury, based in Staffordshire, one of the few hereditary peers still left in the House of Lords.
He charged taxpayers £48,374 to make 88 appearances, a cost of £549.70 for every time he turned up. This included a total of £20,433 to stay overnight in London – which comes to £232 per night – and £10,919 for transport.
His title goes back to 1446 and the family home is Wanfield Hall, a 32-acre estate near Uttoxeter, Staffordshire.
Other big claimers include Bill Morris, now Lord Morris of Handsworth, the former General Secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union, who charged £27,279 for 129 appearances, a cost of £431.74 per appearance.
Lord Hunt said: “The Lords gives good value for money. It sits for the same amount of time as the Commons but members do not receive salaries and cost far less.”
A spokeswoman for pressure group the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “These expenses may all be completely justified, but we won’t know that until the system is made fully transparent. It’s right that Peers get expenses for activities that are genuinely essential to doing their job, but at the moment there is no requirement for receipts or proper evidence at all, which is unacceptable.”