The leader of the Lords said he felt "dismay" over reports that a peer who was jailed for expenses fraud had regularly "clocked in" for a brief period of time to claim a £300 daily attendance allowance.
Lord Hill of Oareford told peers: "[I feel] dismay about the behaviour and dismay about the shadow it casts over the whole House".
In a short statement, he added that steps would be taken to "deal with the small number of members whose behaviour falls below the standards we rightly expect".
Lord Hill of Oareford's comment came after Lord Hanningfield - who served nine weeks of a nine-month sentence in 2011 for falsely claiming £28,000 in parliamentary expenses - said it was normal practice and claimed as many as 50 others did the same.
There is no suggestion that the former Conservative broke any rules.
Speaking to Sky News, Lord Hanningfield said: "I didn't clock in to claim my expenses. This is all a storm in a tea cup really.
"The checking-in is a mechanism for the Lords to get paid. Most of our work is not actually in the chamber of the House of Commons - it's the post we get, the e-mails we get, all the letters we get.
"Then we take on particular interests and my interests are transport and education so we follow those up.
"We don't do that in the chamber. But going in the chamber is a mechanism to pay us so that is why we have to go in to the chamber."
Labour MP John Mann is expected to formally request an investigation into Lord Hanningfield after it emerged that he allegedly "clocked in" to claim a £300 daily attendance allowance despite spending less than 40 minutes inside the House of Lords on 11 occassions in July.
There is no suggestion that the former Conservative broke any rules, but he faced calls from the Labour MP for him to be investigated by parliamentary authorities over the practice.
Mr Mann said: "There needs to be a full investigation into how he has been allowed to get away with it. We need to give the House of Lords a proper and transparent spring-cleaning."
David Cameron's official spokesman said he had not spoken to the Prime Minister about Lord Hanningfield's alleged "clocking in" claims but told reporters: "I understand the concerns that have been raised."
The House of Lords Commissioner for Standards - who is is responsible for investigating alleged breaches of the peers' code of conduct including on the use of expenses - has not yet received any complaint about Lord Hanningfield, a spokesman said.
Members of the House of Lords who are not paid a salary may claim a daily allowance of £300 for "each qualifying day of attendance at Westminster", according to the official parliamentary website.
Allowances and expenses payable to unsalaried peers are linked to their attendance at:
- Sittings in the chamber of the House when formal business takes place
- Sittings of the Grand Committee
- Voting in a division
- Meetings of committees and sub-committees of the House (providing the Member’s attendance is recorded in the minutes)
- Meetings as a member of the Board of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology
- Meetings of the Ecclesiastical Committee and the Audit Committee
Kevin Maguire, associate editor of the Daily Mirror, believes that although Lord Hanningfield did not break any rules when he allegedly "clocked in" to claim a daily attendance allowance, the "rules are wrong".
He told ITV's Daybreak: "He may not be breaking any rules but if that's the case then the rules are wrong because I don't know anybody else who could just turn up, nod to an attendant who ticks your name and then you can leave with a £300 tax-free allowance."
The Daily Mirror, who monitored Lord Hanningfield's movements on 19 days in July, alleged that his shortest attendance in the House of Lords was 21 minutes and the longest more than five hours.
In one video, posted on the Daily Mirror's website, the peer is seen apparently entering Parliament via the Westminster tube entrance at 2.37pm and departing again at 3.01pm.
There is no suggestion he broke any rules.
Lord Hanningfield, who served nine weeks of a nine-month sentence in 2011 for falsely claiming £28,000 in parliamentary expenses, suggested it was normal practice for peers to "clock-in" and that "I can name 50 that do it. I see the same people go in and out as I do. I don't want to be persecuted."
Speaking to the Daily Mirror, he said:
Lots of peers go in and check in for their expenses, but they are using their expenses for a lot of things, entertaining, meeting people, employing people.
Clocking in and out of Parliament is only part of being a peer.
By the time I have people at home to help, time I have people in the House of Lords to help me, I spend something like £150 a day on expenses, so I don't really make any profit.
I have to live, don't I? I don't do anything else. How do you think I am going to eat, how am I going to pay my electricity bills?
My income from the Lords will be about £30,000 a year, I pay about that in £18,000 in expense to other people, I'll end up with £12,000 a year."
I can name 50 that do it. I see the same people go in and out as I do. I don't want to be persecuted.
A peer has defended "clocking in" to claim a £300 daily attendance allowance, despite spending less than 40 minutes inside the House of Lords 11 times out of 19 occasions in July.
The Daily Mirror alleges that on 11 of the 19 days that it monitored the peer's movements in July, he travelled to Westminster from his home in Essex, but spent less than 40 minutes in the Lords before returning.
There is no suggestion that the former Conservative member broke any rules.
Confronted about the claims by the newspaper, Lord Hanningfield said: "Being a lord is not just going in the House of Lords. It's the post you have. I have 15 letters a day, I have all sorts of things like that.
"I can do some of it at home, some of it at my office in the Lords.
"I admit I don't go much into the main chamber. If you look at my records since October it's changed dramatically because I've spoken twice.
"Let me explain again. I was trying to get myself organised after a nervous breakdown, a traumatic period."
Peers were relieved to hear the news that there are enough toilets in the House of Lords to meet the needs of their growing numbers.
Chairman of committees Lord Sewel said there were 57 male urinals, 85 male WCs, and 73 female WCs in the Lords, as well as 40 WCs "not assigned to either gender".
Lord Sewell was replying to a question from former Labour minister Lord Foulkes of Cumnock to assure him that there were enough toilets for members and staff.
Thirty new peers were announced by the Prime Minister in August taking the working total to 785 - making it one of the largest legislatures in the world, second only to the Chinese National Party Congress.