A four-minute speech given by Lord Paddick to the House of Lords cost the taxpayer almost £9,000 ($13,200), it has been revealed. The Lib Dem peer took business class flights from New York to London and back in order to make a brief contribution to a debate on bombing Islamic State (Isis) in Iraq.
The former deputy assistant commissioner of the London's Metropolitan Police interrupted a holiday in the US to deliver a speech that lasted just 446 words when Parliament was recalled from recess in September 2014. He expensed the trip to the public purse, which is allowed under parliamentary rules.
If parliament is recalled during a recess, both MPs and peers are entitled to reimbursement to cover the costs of getting back to Westminster, even if they are abroad.
Documents obtained by the Sunday Times under freedom of information laws, "show that he flew home from New York's JFK airport in a flatbed seat the night before the debate. After his brief appearance, he took a return flight from Heathrow the same night, again in a flatbed seat".
In all, the total cost to the taxpayer was £8,897.84. This amounts to nearly £20 a word or £2,224 a minute.
In response, Paddick, a front-bench spokesman for his party and the Liberal Democrat's 2008 candidate for Mayor of London, told the Sunday Times: "I sought the advice of the chief whip and the House of Lords authorities before travelling. I was advised what class of travel I was entitled to.
"I gave up two days of my holiday to speak in an important debate in parliament. The claim simply covered the cost of travel. I did not gain financially myself from the claim."
Peers receive no salary for their work in the House of Lords, but are entitled to £300 per day simply for turning up, which costs the Treasury £18m every year.