OVERSTRETCHED taxpayers have been forced to shell out more than £9400 in three years on wigs, stockings, robes and belts and buckles for unelected peers in the House of Lords.

The cost of the ceremonial uniform for Black Rod, who oversees the House of Lords, which includes black belt, buckle shoes and tights, alone comes to £4204.74.

The excess follows reports last week that the peers, non-elected, predominantly male and over-65, and hereditary, had drunk more than 150 bottles of luxury sparkling wine already this year – despite bars in the House of Lords being shut since March because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

SNP MSP George Adam condemned the expense which the Sunday National reveals today under the Freedom of Information Act.

He said: “It’s beyond belief that while many working families are struggling to make ends meet, these unelected peers are forcing taxpayers to fund this pompous, outdated pantomime.”

A report by the SNP shadow leader of the House of Commons Tommy Sheppard in January showed that we are haemorrhaging money to keep the unelected peers.

READ MORE: UK cloaks failure with job retention scheme in the House of Lords

According to the SNP’s paper the total expense bill of Scotland’s 87 peers in the House of Lords between October 2017 and the end of September 2018 was £2,939,035.

Nor did Sheppard’s report find that our Scottish peers were putting in long, arduous hours like the taxpayers who funded them.

David Steel, the former LibDem leader, claimed expenses of £58,492 and attended the House of Lords on 99 days.

The Earl of Stair, John Dalymple – a hereditary peer who is a second cousin of the Prince of Wales – claimed £17,405 for 34 days work over 12 months.

Meanwhile, Glaswegian businesswoman Michelle Mone – who had vowed to “play a full and active role in your Lordships’ House” when then prime minister David Cameron gave her the sinecure in 2015 – spoke just four times in four years, casting votes on only four occasions.

The National: Entrepreneur Michelle Mone is admitted to the House of Lords as Baroness Mone

Sheppard echoed his colleague George Adam’s sentiments regarding the amount being spent on “frills and indulgences”.

He said: “The money being spent on unelected peers putting on fancy dress from 300 years ago as if they were auditioning for pantomime further illuminates why the House of Lords is well past its sell-by date.”

READ MORE: SNP report exposes disconnect between House of Lords and Scotland

The Electoral Reform Society weighed in to the issue with chief executive Darren Hughes saying: “The unelected House of Lords too often looks like a private members’ club for a privileged few, rather than the dedicated scrutiny chamber we need.

“The news of yet more expensive indulgences is just another sign of how out of touch the chamber is. We’ve seen scandal after scandal in this bloated house, with taxpayers being taken for a ride.

“Voters should have a say over all those who vote on our laws. It’s time to scrap and replace this relic with a slimmed-down, fairly-elected revising chamber – one that is fit for the 21st century.”

The House of Lords, though, defended its position, with a spokesperson saying: “Some House of Lords officials are required to wear a uniform when working in or around the Chamber.

“As with nurses, police officers and other public servants required to wear a uniform to work, the employer purchases the uniform.

“We’ve made a big effort to reduce the cost of uniforms including taking on new cheaper suppliers and ensuring uniforms are passed on when staff leave and new staff are appointed.

“This has resulted in significant savings, with Black Rod’s department alone reducing its uniform budget by more than 30% since 2013-14.”