School of Politics and International Relations

Leading the news agenda

House of Lords

Expenses in the House of Lords were recently called into question by the national media thanks to research conducted by a politics student.

Emma Levin, third-year BA Politics and Economics student, spent this summer on an internship organised through the School of Politics and International Relations' placement programme. Her placement was with the Electoral Reform Society, where she researched and analysed Peers' use of expenses.

She found that over half made 10 or fewer spoken contributions for the entire 2016/17 Parliamentary session, yet these members claimed over £7.3m in expenses. Over a third (36%) of peers spoke five times or fewer in the past year – with many turning up to just to vote while contributing to a £4.1m bill for the taxpayer.

Emma's work was utilised by the society in a month-long campaign which gained press coverage across the UK, with slots on Radio 2, Radio 4's Today programme, 5Live, Daily Politics and the Jeremy Vine Show.

The Electoral Reform Society said: "Emma's research had a huge impact on our work around the House of Lords. It's fair to say her work led the news agenda on 21 September. She performed her research diligently, often independently, and went far beyond what was expected to produce a full package of data and analysis."

Emma commented: "I would highly recommend other students look into gaining placements through the University. During my placement I got a real insight into the process behind the statistics that appear in our newspapers every day. I am incredibly grateful to the Electoral Reform Society for allowing me to have such independence in leading the direction of my research. The issue of Lords reform is high on the agenda at the moment and the society is one of the major players at the forefront of this debate. To see my work published in their name was a massive honour. I hope to transfer the skills I developed during my placement into a career in research after I graduate this summer."

Read Emma's blog on the project.

Posted on Monday 13th November 2017

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