Theresa May has been urged to return the House of Lords after the prime minister surprised peers by sitting on the steps of the upper chamber's throne as the government's Article 50 bill was debated on Monday (20 February).

Renowned constitutional expert Lord Norton told IBTimes UK that the prime minister should come to the Lords more often to hear deliberations over draft legislation.

"I know the media were writing it up as that she was being very firm, but my view was that 'oh good, the prime minister is here, let's hope that she comes more frequently'," the University of Hull professor said.

"It's fairly rare but not unusual for a secretary of state to come and sit on the steps when their bill is going through."

Norton, author of the forthcoming Reform of the House of Lords (Manchester University Press), added: "We are delighted when ministers pay attention to what we are debating.

"I would regard ministers turning up as a good thing, we are very keen to encourage ministers and MPs to spend more time coming and listening to proceedings."

His comments come ahead of a new BBC Two documentary taking viewers behind-the-scenes of the Lords.

The Meet the Lords film, due to be aired on Monday 27 February, follows the broadcaster's 2015 Inside the Commons series.

The 805 peers can earn £300 ($372)-a-day by attending, with one nameless peer jumping in and out of a taxi to get the money.

"He ran in, presumably to show that he'd attended, and then ran out again while the taxi was still running," former Lord Speaker Baroness D'Souza said.

"So I mean that's not normal, but it is something that does happen and I think that we have lost the sense of honour that used to pertain, and that is a great, great shame."

A House of Lords spokesman said: "All members have to certify that they have undertaken parliamentary work when claiming for attending the House.

"Where members are shown to have claimed when they have not undertaken parliamentary work the House has the power to suspend them – as in the case of Lord Hanningfield. The House has a robust Code of Conduct overseen by the independent Lords Commissioner for Standards."

May in the House of Lords
Parliament TV