The last thing MPs need is a pay rise

October 16, 2012 10:55 am

When it comes to MPs, I realise I’m in a minority. I don’t believe they’re all greedy, self-interested, untrustworthy and venal. I believe, perhaps quite naively, that politics can make a positive difference in people’s lives, and that the persistent denigration of MPs – to the extent that “politician” is an insult – is A Bad Thing for society.

Sometimes politicians don’t help themselves though, and when a whole load of bad apples go out and buy duck islands, and fiddle their expenses, there’s a temptation to think the whole lot of them are unscrupulous bastards.

One issue on which MPs seem to lose all political sense is the matter of their own pay. Anyone who has read Chris Mullins’ fantastic diaries will remember the way his fellow MPs reacted to his campaign against a salary rise. A large chunk of our Parliamentarians believe that they not only deserve, but NEED more. In fact, one Tory MP told Mullin that:

“what you don’t realise, Chris, is that no Tory can survive on an MP’s salary.”

Which, of course, is bollocks of the very highest order. The basic salary for an MP is currently £65,738 – almost three times the national average salary. Even in the most wealthy parts of the country that is a comfortable salary. In many of the poorer parts of the country, it makes the local MP one of his/her most wealthy constituents. MPs are well paid – wealthy, even. And it is right that they should receive a good wage, not just because they deserve it for the work they do, but also to help ensure that few succumb to bribery.

But at a time of extreme financial constraint, the absolute last thing that should happen is for MPs to receive a pay rise. Yet that appears to be exactly what IPSA are proposing this morning. Seemingly as a means of offsetting cuts to MP’s pensions, there’s the possibility of them getting a 40% pay rise. Funnily enough, no-one else in the public sector is being offered a huge pay rise for having their pension tinkered with.

There is one IPSA suggestion that is worthy of pursuing – MPs should be placed on a multiple of the national average salary (or even a multiple of the National Minimum Wage) and given the same pension offer as other public sector workers. If a pension is too “gold plated” for a dinner lady then it is certainly too gold plated for a well remunerated politician. And perhaps if the way MPs were paid (and their pensions were calculated) was based on the pay of ordinary working people, then they might be a tad more circumspect about poverty wages, and the cost of living.

But a politically toxic pay rise? That’s the last thing our MPs need. It’d damage the name of politics even further, it’s not deserved, and it’d be two fingers to everyone facing a pay freeze or a pay cut. If Ed Miliband really does want to save politics – telling IPSA, and his own MPs, that there won’t be any pay rises on the Labour side would be a good start.

  • franwhi

    I couldn’t agree mroe and I no no one who earns this kind of salary or the perks package that goes along with it. Even more shocking is the fact that this remuneration from the public purse doesn’t seem to be tied in to any kind of performance criteria. Do you know anyone who earns such a salary for so little accountability ? And as for the argument that paying such a generous salary “helps ensure that few (MPs) succumb to bribery” I think that is just a ridiculous proposition. We have laws of the land which deal with  criminal conduct of this order and many other public servants could equally make the case that they are in a postion to be bribed. So why reward MPs for not being criminal ? Seems a perverse reason to award anybody a pay rise but particularly individuals who are already very well remunerated.

  • Serbitar

    What about paying MPs by the hour and FORCE them hold constituency surgeries regularly in order to better represent their constituent’s interests? Or possibly move to some kind of “pay by results” model as far as salaries go? Hold your horses! Pay by results? Hmm. Better not. We don’t want the lawmakers of the land forced into poverty and eventually actual starvation now do we?

  • Chilbaldi

    I agree that in the current economic climate it is not the time to be talking abour MP salary rises. BUT….

    Do you not think MPs should be paid similar salaries to other public sector employees such as doctors or town hall chiefs? that’s not even taking into account impressively remunerated private sector careers.

    It is a bit silly comparing MPs salaries to the national average wage. MPs are not ‘average’ citizens – they are highly qualified, whether that be through academic qualifications or previous work experience.  Being an MP is close to the top of the career tree in this country, so consequently they should be paid quite a bit more than the average wage.

    We also need to think – what level of salary prevents intelligent potential MPs from pursuing careers with greater remuneration?

    The whole sanctimonious, self-sacrificial lamb attitude of people like Chris Mullin irritates me to be honest.

    • Hugh

      Most jobs paying the same or more do not enable the person to continue a second job on top (even, in some cases, practically full time). If MPs have extra responsibilities, such as being a minister or chairing a committee, they are then paid more.

      Nor are MPs necessarily “highly qualified” – or certainly any more highly qualified than a salary of £65 plus generous expenses and benefits allows. That’s particularly true for younger MPs.

      Finally, as for whether current salaries put off potential intelligent MPs, I don’t think most people would reckon we’re short of MPs who are Oxbridge educated. In fact, we don’t seem to be short of people who want to be MPs full stop.

      • Chilbaldi

        Your mistake there is automatically equating Oxbridge with intelligence.

        What I’m worried about is the fact that people who are successful in business – to use one example – being few and far between in the Commons. This is particularly true with the Labour Party, where most MPs seem to arrive from lower paid careers such as trade union work, teaching, university lecturing.

        Wouldn’t it be good to incentivise people from high yielding careers such as business to try to enter Parliament? Wouldn’t that benefit the policy making process?

        the second job problem is simple – ban second jobs for MPs. I would completely agree with this measure.

        The young MPs problem – such ingenues would find it harder to get selected if the potential talent pool was broadened. As would the more cliquey elements of our political class (no groups or universities mentioned).

        £65k is a hell of a lot of money. But let’s compare it with graduate jobs. The top paying graduate jobs pay between £25-35k straight out of university. After a few years (within 5 in some cases, within 2 years in others) this will be equal or greater than an MPs salary. Do we think being an MP is more important than this graduate paper shuffling jobs? Do we want to incentivise these people to be MPs or to disappear in the worship of mammon?

        Of course MPs salaries are never going to compare to high flying jobs int he City as far as pay goes. Nor should they. Such a job should predominantly draw people who see it as a sense of duty and calling. But let’s get real and look at the basics of motivation here.

        Basically – you pay penuts, you get monkeys.

        • Hugh

           No, I equate good Oxbridge degrees with the potential to earn decent money, which, largely, holds. There’s no shortage of MPs with solid degrees in subjects such as economics who could have earned good money in the private sector.

          The percentage of graduates who earn more than £65k within five years is miniscule, and there’s no evidence at all that they would consider politics as an alternative were the money better – particularly, since, as you say, we will never be able to match the potential offered in the private sector. Those who have proved themselves successful in business, if still motivated by money, are likely to stick where they are.

          Far more dangerous than the – largely theoretical – danger of putting off successful entrepreneurs is establishing an legislature entirely removed from the concerns and lifestyles of almost the entire population. A salary of £65k already puts you well inside the top 5% of earners; how high do you want to go?

          Incidentally, Italy has the best paid politicians in Europe. Is it notably better run?

        • Hugh

           No, I equate good Oxbridge degrees with the potential to earn decent money, which, largely, holds. There’s no shortage of MPs with solid degrees in subjects such as economics who could have earned good money in the private sector.

          The percentage of graduates who earn more than £65k within five years is miniscule, and there’s no evidence at all that they would consider politics as an alternative were the money better – particularly, since, as you say, we will never be able to match the potential offered in the private sector. Those who have proved themselves successful in business, if still motivated by money, are likely to stick where they are.

          Far more dangerous than the – largely theoretical – danger of putting off successful entrepreneurs is establishing an legislature entirely removed from the concerns and lifestyles of almost the entire population. A salary of £65k already puts you well inside the top 5% of earners; how high do you want to go?

          Incidentally, Italy has the best paid politicians in Europe. Is it notably better run?

        • Hugh

           No, I equate good Oxbridge degrees with the potential to earn decent money, which, largely, holds. There’s no shortage of MPs with solid degrees in subjects such as economics who could have earned good money in the private sector.

          The percentage of graduates who earn more than £65k within five years is miniscule, and there’s no evidence at all that they would consider politics as an alternative were the money better – particularly, since, as you say, we will never be able to match the potential offered in the private sector. Those who have proved themselves successful in business, if still motivated by money, are likely to stick where they are.

          Far more dangerous than the – largely theoretical – danger of putting off successful entrepreneurs is establishing an legislature entirely removed from the concerns and lifestyles of almost the entire population. A salary of £65k already puts you well inside the top 5% of earners; how high do you want to go?

          Incidentally, Italy has the best paid politicians in Europe. Is it notably better run?

          • Hugh

            Also, here’s the Smith Institute’s analysis of MPs in 2010: “The occupational background of MPs continues to be ever more biased toward business and the ‘metropolitan professions’, particularly finance, law, public affairs and politics.”

            Doesn’t much sound like well paid people are being put off.

            It’s true that there’s a big discrepancy with 27% of Tories but only 3% of Labour MPs coming from a background in finance, for instance. However, unless it’s your contention that left-leaning professionals are more concerned with personal enrichment than their right-wing counterparts, I don’t think the level of MPs pay is the reason.

            http://www.smith-institute.org.uk/file/Who-Governs-Britain.pdf

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            –Also, here's the Smith Institute's
            analysis of MPs in 2010: "The occupational background of MPs continues to
            be ever more biased toward business and the 'metropolitan professions',
            particularly finance, law, public affairs and politics."

            Doesn't much sound like well paid people are being put off.

            It's true that there's a big discrepancy with 27% of Tories but only 3% of
            Labour MPs coming from a background in finance, for instance. However,
             unless it's your contention that left-leaning professionals are more
            concerned with personal enrichment than their right-wing counterparts, I don't
            think the level of MPs pay is the reason.

            http://www.smith-institute.org.uk/file/Who-Governs-Britain.pdf

          • Chilbaldi

            Interesting research there Hugh – I realised the Tories had more from these fields (perhaps for obvious reasons), Although having said that I have noticed that a lot of today’s left leaning graduates do choose jobs in these high paying sectors – evidence of the brain drain towards the City and associated industries.

            I stand by my point however. In my opinion Members of Parliament should at least be paid the equivalent of members of the managerial class. £65k is really the minimum of this in my opinion. Any talk of reducing the salary lowers MPs way below other public sector managers.

            There are other things you can cut – the resettlement grant is a con for one.

            I do think that MP bashing is still very fashionable, and that pay is a major part of this. We shouldn’t equate MPs pay with how good we perceive the current crop to be. For the record I think the quality of MP at present is lamentable, and that we should look at ways of improving this. Cutting pay would be counter-productive.

          • AlanGiles

            ”  For the record I think the quality of MP at present is lamentable”

            I think this is true. There are some real shockers on all sides of the house who are only there because the votes for the constituencies they represent are weighed rather than counted. Or they had an influential friend who got them parachuted into a safe constituency. Many are long past retirement age and need to be put out to pasture.

            I was interested yesterday to listen on the radio to the views of certain old has-beens in relation to the news that Theresa May had intervened in the Gary McKinnon case, and shown some humanity. Who should pop up than Alan “not up to it” Johnson – the cheeky chappie seemed quite distraught because she had dared to rescind the papers signed by John Reid, to extradite GM to the USA and I very much regret the attitude of some Labour MPs that Mrs May made this decision for “party political” reasons. I should have said the stress he has been under for 10 years is punishment enough.

            This is one of the worries for and about Labour – ghastly old waxworks like Reid, Straw and Blunkett were more concerned with pleasing Washington than doing the decent thing. Two of those three cling on at Westminster.

    • Vicky_Seddon

       I think Mark was referring to a multiple of the average wage – say times 2 or 3 times, rather than the  average wage itself. 

  • David B

    Well
    said.  Politics impacts on every part of
    our lives.  Unfortunately most people don’t
    understand or agree with that.

     

    Unfortunately
    MP’s have not understood that after the expenses scandal and many other self
    inflected wounds they have to be seen to wear the hair shirt and take their
    part of the pain of clearing up the mess. 
    That means taking the same pay rise as the rest of the civil service, ie
    a pay freeze.  Anything over this is self
    indulgency

  • Redshift1

    I like the idea of a multiple of the minimum wage!

  • Daniel Speight

    Well said Mark.

  • Brumanuensis

    I mostly agree with Hugh. But sympathy for the devil compels me to mount a (modest) defence here.

    The multiples idea is a good one, although I think it should be indexed to median, rather than average pay (which is skewed by higher earners). But more broadly, there are two arguments I want to introduce for consideration. 

    First, the expenses scandal came about in large part because MPs were encouraged to trade off expenses allowances for lower increases in their salaries. This doesn’t justify their behaviour, but it offers some context to why expenses claims got so out of control. And if we want to restrict expenses claims, we may have to trade this off against higher basic salaries.

    Second, we need a well-paid legislature. I agree that £65,000-odd is a lot of money, but MPs are highly important individuals and are crucial to the successful operation of our democracy. It’s worth remembering that the Labour Party campaigned for an MPs salary, against the opposition of ‘Gentleman amateurs’ in the Liberal and Conservative Parties. And if pension entitlements are being reduced, if may well be justifiable to increase the basic salary by way of compensation.

    • MonkeyBot5000

       “And if pension entitlements are being reduced, if may well be justifiable to increase the basic salary by way of compensation.

      Only if they are willing to do the same for every other public servant.

      • Brumanuensis

        Fair enough.

  • jaime taurosangastre candelas

    I think the headline should have been “The last thing politics needs is a pay rise for MPs”.  There is a current poison about politics, but I do not think that should detract from the vital jobs that MPs should be doing, and I suspect most are.

    Being an MP is very demanding, and it is collectively important to all of us that our 650 MPs are women and men of very high intellectual quality and with good judgement about all sorts of matters, from the domestic to the international, from the law to economics, and from the micro to the macro.  They also work in two places.  If you heaped that broad a job description onto a public sector senior manager, well the salary would probably be well over £100 thousand (and probably more in the private sector).  The public sector salaries are a matter of record:  Headmasters of big schools, council chief executives, some in the BBC, senior civil servants, all earning over £100 thousand.  None of them to me are as important as even a back bench MP.  I am paid more than an MP, and my role is significantly less important.

    The sadness is that as Brum (elsewhere) notes, a little Devil’s compact was made that to avoid public embarassment of big salary rises, expenses would be very loosely policed, and that then many took over-full advantage.

  • jaime taurosangastre candelas

    I think the headline should have been “The last thing politics needs is a pay rise for MPs”.  There is a current poison about politics, but I do not think that should detract from the vital jobs that MPs should be doing, and I suspect most are.

    Being an MP is very demanding, and it is collectively important to all of us that our 650 MPs are women and men of very high intellectual quality and with good judgement about all sorts of matters, from the domestic to the international, from the law to economics, and from the micro to the macro.  They also work in two places.  If you heaped that broad a job description onto a public sector senior manager, well the salary would probably be well over £100 thousand (and probably more in the private sector).  The public sector salaries are a matter of record:  Headmasters of big schools, council chief executives, some in the BBC, senior civil servants, all earning over £100 thousand.  None of them to me are as important as even a back bench MP.

    I am paid more than an MP, and my role is significantly less important. My wife earns double what I do, and she looks after sick horses (but then that is supply and demand: she is the best equine vet in Cambridgeshire, and rich people want their horses to be looked after when they start wheezing 12 hours before a big race at Newmarket). This salary business is odd sometimes, but if that is the reality, we cannot expect to have the MPs we deserve if we force them to wear the “hair shirt” for a full career.

    But, if they were to be paid what they deserve, I think it also reasonable for them to sign an undertaking to take no further employment (2nd, third job etc), and also to forego any fees for media appearances related to their job as an MP.

    The sadness is that as Brum (elsewhere) notes, a little Devil’s contract was made that to avoid public embarassment of big salary rises, expenses would be very loosely policed, and that then many took over-full advantage.

  • jaime taurosangastre candelas

    I think the headline should have been “The last thing politics needs is a pay rise for MPs”.  There is a current poison about politics, but I do not think that should detract from the vital jobs that MPs should be doing, and I suspect most are.

    Being an MP is very demanding, and it is collectively important to all of us that our 650 MPs are women and men of very high intellectual quality and with good judgement about all sorts of matters, from the domestic to the international, from the law to economics, and from the micro to the macro.  They also work in two places.  If you heaped that broad a job description onto a public sector senior manager, well the salary would probably be well over £100 thousand (and probably more in the private sector).  The public sector salaries are a matter of record:  Headmasters of big schools, council chief executives, some in the BBC, senior civil servants, all earning over £100 thousand.  None of them to me are as important as even a back bench MP.

    I am paid more than an MP, and my role is significantly less important. My wife earns double what I do, and she looks after sick horses (but then that is supply and demand: she is the best equine vet in Cambridgeshire, and rich people want their horses to be looked after when they start wheezing 12 hours before a big race at Newmarket). This salary business is odd sometimes, but if that is the reality, we cannot expect to have the MPs we deserve if we force them to wear the “hair shirt” for a full career.

    But, if they were to be paid what they deserve, I think it also reasonable for them to sign an undertaking to take no further employment (2nd, third job etc), and also to forego any fees for media appearances related to their job as an MP.

    The sadness is that as Brum (elsewhere) notes, a little Devil’s contract was made that to avoid public embarassment of big salary rises, expenses would be very loosely policed, and that then many took over-full advantage.

  • jaime taurosangastre candelas

    I think the headline should have been “The last thing politics needs is a pay rise for MPs”.  There is a current poison about politics, but I do not think that should detract from the vital jobs that MPs should be doing, and I suspect most are.

    Being an MP is very demanding, and it is collectively important to all of us that our 650 MPs are women and men of very high intellectual quality and with good judgement about all sorts of matters, from the domestic to the international, from the law to economics, and from the micro to the macro.  They also work in two places.  If you heaped that broad a job description onto a public sector senior manager, well the salary would probably be well over £100 thousand (and probably more in the private sector).  The public sector salaries are a matter of record:  Headmasters of big schools, council chief executives, some in the BBC, senior civil servants, all earning over £100 thousand.  None of them to me are as important as even a back bench MP.

    I am paid more than an MP, and my role is significantly less important. My wife earns double what I do, and she looks after sick horses (but then that is supply and demand: she is the best equine vet in Cambridgeshire, and rich people want their horses to be looked after when they start wheezing 12 hours before a big race at Newmarket). This salary business is odd sometimes, but if that is the reality, we cannot expect to have the MPs we deserve if we force them to wear the “hair shirt” for a full career.

    But, if they were to be paid what they deserve, I think it also reasonable for them to sign an undertaking to take no further employment (2nd, third job etc), and also to forego any fees for media appearances related to their job as an MP.

    The sadness is that as Brum (elsewhere) notes, a little Devil’s contract was made that to avoid public embarassment of big salary rises, expenses would be very loosely policed, and that then many took over-full advantage.

    • Hugh

       “Being an MP is very demanding”

      As a backbencher in a safe seat? The evidence suggests otherwise. Derek Conway, if memory serves managed it while chief executive (not chair or trustee) of the Cats Protection League, a reasonable sized charity with an income of £35 million. It can be very demanding, but it can also, quite plainly, be a part time job. And MPs seem to have  far more control than most which of those options they choose.

      “I am paid more than an MP, and my role is significantly less important.”

      No, it’s not. I can’t think of a single decision a backbencher could get wrong in which someone can die. The available pool of people who could do the job is also far wider, since it doesn’t require five years or whatever of medical training.

      “we cannot expect to have the MPs we deserve if we force them to wear the “hair shirt” for a full career”

      £65 is not a hair-shirt salary, but if they are ambitious they can join committees and earn extra when they chair them (£80,320) or become ministers (£134,565 if they end up in cabinet). If they end up as PM, leader of the party or one of the other very big jobs (not that bad odds given they’re only competing against 250-350 others in even the big parties) they are – if they’re even moderately bright – set for life.And, of course, any MP can take on other jobs.

      On that point, I’m surprised you’re keen to have MPs give them up. It’s never really occurred to me that the major problem we have is that our legislatures don’t spend enough time debating, politicking and making laws and that if only they put a few more hours in all would be well. Personally, I don’t find my quality of life significantly worsens over the summer recess, for instance. In fact, in some ways, quite the opposite.

    • Hugh

       “Being an MP is very demanding”

      As a backbencher in a safe seat? The evidence suggests otherwise. Derek Conway, if memory serves managed it while chief executive (not chair or trustee) of the Cats Protection League, a reasonable sized charity with an income of £35 million. It can be very demanding, but it can also, quite plainly, be a part time job. And MPs seem to have  far more control than most which of those options they choose.

      “I am paid more than an MP, and my role is significantly less important.”

      No, it’s not. I can’t think of a single decision a backbencher could get wrong in which someone can die. The available pool of people who could do the job is also far wider, since it doesn’t require five years or whatever of medical training.

      “we cannot expect to have the MPs we deserve if we force them to wear the “hair shirt” for a full career”

      £65 is not a hair-shirt salary, but if they are ambitious they can join committees and earn extra when they chair them (£80,320) or become ministers (£134,565 if they end up in cabinet). If they end up as PM, leader of the party or one of the other very big jobs (not that bad odds given they’re only competing against 250-350 others in even the big parties) they are – if they’re even moderately bright – set for life.And, of course, any MP can take on other jobs.

      On that point, I’m surprised you’re keen to have MPs give them up. It’s never really occurred to me that the major problem we have is that our legislatures don’t spend enough time debating, politicking and making laws and that if only they put a few more hours in all would be well. Personally, I don’t find my quality of life significantly worsens over the summer recess, for instance. In fact, in some ways, quite the opposite.

    • Hugh

       “Being an MP is very demanding”

      As a backbencher in a safe seat? The evidence suggests otherwise. Derek Conway, if memory serves managed it while chief executive (not chair or trustee) of the Cats Protection League, a reasonable sized charity with an income of £35 million. It can be very demanding, but it can also, quite plainly, be a part time job. And MPs seem to have  far more control than most which of those options they choose.

      “I am paid more than an MP, and my role is significantly less important.”

      No, it’s not. I can’t think of a single decision a backbencher could get wrong in which someone can die. The available pool of people who could do the job is also far wider, since it doesn’t require five years or whatever of medical training.

      “we cannot expect to have the MPs we deserve if we force them to wear the “hair shirt” for a full career”

      £65 is not a hair-shirt salary, but if they are ambitious they can join committees and earn extra when they chair them (£80,320) or become ministers (£134,565 if they end up in cabinet). If they end up as PM, leader of the party or one of the other very big jobs (not that bad odds given they’re only competing against 250-350 others in even the big parties) they are – if they’re even moderately bright – set for life.And, of course, any MP can take on other jobs.

      On that point, I’m surprised you’re keen to have MPs give them up. It’s never really occurred to me that the major problem we have is that our legislatures don’t spend enough time debating, politicking and making laws and that if only they put a few more hours in all would be well. Personally, I don’t find my quality of life significantly worsens over the summer recess, for instance. In fact, in some ways, quite the opposite.

      • Serbitar

        The trouble with Members of Parliament is that the general public don’t vote for Parliamentary candidates based on personal worth but for the political parties that they represent figuratively. Parliamentary candidates are selected to stand for election, by the various political parties, in various ways, based on which applicant happens to tickle the fancy of the selectors at the time: the public then casts its vote based almost entirely on political affiliation, irrespective of the personal qualities (or lack of same) of the candidates on offer: absolutely anybody can therefore theoretically become an MP, if selected to stand by a party and subsequently voted into office by the population of a constituency.

        When all is said and done there really aren’t that many jobs that ANYBODY could do that pay a salary of £65,000+ per year. This being the case what’s all this nonsense about pay increases and such when a programme of such massive fiscal consolidation is underway? As far as I’m concerned if an MP feels so unappreciated and ill-rewarded as to demand a pay rise now he/she ought to “do a Mensch” and stand down as soon as possible. There always seems to be a copious number of other odd-bods, waiting in the wings, who do want to be MPs, more than willing to supplantany or all of  the current crop of no-hopers, at the drop of a hat, if given the opportunity.

        • Hugh

          Spot on – with regard to selection and election: another reason why increasing the pay would have no benefit to MPs’ quality.

          Also £65k seems a pretty good level that prevents the temptation to corruption from need (though not greed, which no pay can remove), while weeding out those whose sole motivation is personal enrichment (although it’s arguable how successful it has been in the latter case). It is meant to be “public service”, after all.

          • PeterBarnard

            In fact, Hugh, maybe we should have a kind of auction at election time where each candidate submits the price for which they will carry out the functions of an MP?

            Also, perhaps each candidate should supply a legally-binding “scope of work,” spelling out what they will do, eg n number of surgeries, p number of public meetings, q number of appearances in the HoC, r number of questions to ministers, s number of personal visits to constituents, plus (say) three subjects about which they feel very passionate and will actively campaign on.

            This, combined with the price, will enable the electorate to make a choice based on “value for money.”

            Just a thought …

          • MonkeyBot5000

            In fact, Hugh, maybe we should have a kind of auction at election time where each candidate submits the price for which they will carry out the functions of an MP?

            Better still, just select them at random like juries.

          • PeterBarnard

            ” … select them at random like juries.”

            I guess, in theory, it’s democratic (provided that this method receives the consent of the people) but you may still be landed with the problem of an MP who does sweet Fanny Adams.

            Chances of it happening? I’ll see you in the Dog and Duck on Mars to talk about it …

        • PeterBarnard

          Actually, anyone can do an MP’s job, Serbitar, because the scope of work of an MP is completely undefined in any legal, contractual or constitutional sense.

          An MP is elected as a “representative of the people” but what actually constitutes a sufficient degree of representation is, again, undefined. For that, we have to thank a massive and classic British fudge, in the form of our unwritten constitution.

          An MP may be elected and devote not one minute to any affairs of state, nor to the affairs of his or her constituents, nor spend one minute in the HoC chamber. In the meantime, the MP will continue to draw his (her) salary and there’s not a thing that anyone can do about it until the next general election when they can “boot the bu**er out  (having said that, I can’t remember whether “right of recall” is now placed on the statute book).

          Until there are terms of reference against which an MP’s “performance” can be measured, it is impossible to say whether an MP is satisfactorily performing his (her) duties, and subsequently “worth” his (her) wage. I doubt that any such terms of reference can ever be established and, in any case, who would do the “measuring?”

    • MonkeyBot5000

      “I am paid more than an MP, and my role is significantly less important.”

      Aren’t you a doctor?

      I think you’d be hard pressed to find a sizeable number of people who’d agree that your role is less important than an MP. The MP can be replaced at the drop of a hat by anyone in the country without needing any qualifications (or intelligence in many cases).

      My MP is so dozy that he thought he could buy a “Deluxe” model bin for his kitchen for £90 and that redacting the word “Deluxe” when his expenses were published would protect him.

      When he was in opposition (he’s Conservative), I wrote to him to ask his opinion on a matter of transport policy and he forwarded my letter to Ruth Kelly!

  • ColinAdkins

    Contrary to my normal opinion on MPs I actually think they are underpaid. They are paid less than GPs, medics, many Head Teachers and many senior leader positions in public services.

    However I think there should be a code of conduct with financial penalties for example those other roles I mentioned have to turn up for work every day and are not allowed to moonlight.

    On the pensions I fail to understand why there has not been a public outcry similar to the pensions scandal. The sheer hypocrisy of stating public sector pensions are unaffordable in their present form (which may or may not be true) whilst their platinum plated ones go without comment.

    On programmes such as QT there appears to be an all party attempt at denial. Often they state ‘our pensions have been reformed’. Well lets us benchmark their pensions (contributions, rate of accrual, when they can take their pension down, the dynamic etc) against those in the public sector to reveal the truth. I remember the previous time MPs pensions were reformed by an increase in contributions they voted themselves a compensatory pay rise.

    One of the contradictions of the proposals is that if you raise the MPs final salary you offset any savings made through the ‘reform’ of their pensions.

    Don’t get me onto the old game of a MP retiring drawing their pension, becoming a Lord and drawing ex’s and then getting a quango or two or getting involved in the old influence peddling game (sorry lobbying) in one of the most convivial club houses in the country subsidised by us taxpayers.

  • Auntiecon

    What do they need a rise for when their expenses actually keep them – food  £400 per month, mortgage paid for, furnishings and decorations paid for, travelling expenses paid for, relatives paid to work for them – the list is endless. Makes me wonder what they actually spend their salaries on.

  • IAS2011

    firstly, MPs need to have a Legal or Statutory Obligation to Represent… constituents! I find it extraordinary that they don’t – given the majority of them want pay rises and more Power. Because of this lack of ‘Duty’ that means that You or I cannot take MPs to Court for their failure to perform ‘reasonably’ in cases of representation, that I strongly believe it is reasonable to make such changes in order to establish a REAL pathways towards a Democracy that aims for Fairness and Justice for All – rather than simply for those who can afford it.

    Social Mobility is reliant upon this level of democratic progress in the way MPs perform EFFECTIVELY in their representation of constituents, but also to the challenges confronting WEAK public policy that many times can be that stronghold of negativity or psychological burden on ones already vulnerable or disadvantaged life – stagnating a fundamental progress towards achieving goals.

    Surely, Social Mobility – Fairness and Justice – DEMANDS such a worthy Inspiration towards a viable political representation to wholesomely counteract the policy FAILINGS that are many times the causes that hinder progress in peoples lives.

  • http://twitter.com/citizen_colin Colin McCulloch

    Wouldn’t it be fantastic if Ed Milliband convinced Labour MPs to return all their salary over the national average to the treasury? Then we really could talk about Labour being in tune with the average working person.

  • Pingback: Why not make MPs' pay proportional to the average UK wage? | Mark Ferguson - newspapertimes

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