THE average cost to the British taxpayer of a peer in the House of Lords is £83,000 a year, official figures have revealed.

The data released in a parliamentary written answer showed the overall bill for the unelected upper chamber in the last financial year, excluding building costs, stood at £67,932,000.

Based on there being 814 members at the time, this equated to £83,000 each.

The statistics come amid criticism of the size of the House of Lords compared with the Commons, which usually has 650 elected MPs.

A cross-party group of peers is currently looking at ways to reduce their number following concerns about the upper chamber’s “over-bloated” image and claims that it detracted from its role in scrutinising and debating legislation.

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The Lords was also the focus of recent controversy with the broadcast of a BBC fly-on-the-wall documentary in which a former lord speaker said many peers contributed “absolutely nothing” to Parliament and claimed one member kept a taxi running outside while signing in to collect the £300 daily allowance.

In a parliamentary written question to the senior deputy speaker, Ukip peer Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked “What is the average cost to the British taxpayer, including salary and expenses but excluding building maintenance costs, of a member of the House of Lords”.

Responding, Lord McFall of Alcluith wrote: “For the 2015-16 financial year the cost of the House of Lords excluding Estates and Works expenditure and non-cash costs (e.g. depreciation) was £67,932,000. As at 31 March 2016 there were 814 members, making the average cost of a member on this basis £83,000.”