Wednesday, 3 February 2010


MPs ANGERED by cutbacks to their expenses are clinging to hopes the new parliamentary watchdog will award them a £15,000 pay rise after the election. They have been told by the head of the new Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) that a steep increase in salary could be granted to compensate for losses in perks. In fact a pay rise of up to £15,000, taking them to £80,000, a 23 per cent increase, has been mooted.

So they seem to think that an ordinary back bencher is worth £80,000 a year. And they appear to think this is appropriate at a time when people working in the private sector are losing their jobs, taking pay cuts, unpaid holidays, and reductions in hours, all to keep their jobs. What is more, even the protected public service employees are facing cuts in pay, conditions and numbers regardless of which government in elected in May.

Why is it that they think they are worth that kind of money? What is it about their job that makes them feel that we should pay them £80,000, when the average UK wage is in the region of £25,000? What does the average backbencher do to deserve this, plus first class travel, overnight stays in good hotels and subsidised restaurants, bars, etc?

They say that they are professionals. Well, that’s rubbish for a start. The need no qualification whatsoever for the job. No degree, no professional postgrad. Some of them may have been professionals previously I agree, but to use that argument would be like saying that a person with a legal degree who has taken a job in Tesco as a shelf filler should be still paid his solicitor’s salary.

The constituency part of their job involves listening to complaints and using their “position” to try to get done that “ordinary people” can’t get done with intransigent and uncaring officialdom. The letter from an MP will often open doors that remain closed to the rest of us. In the constituency they also have to open things and make speeches at Rotary Dinners, etc.

In parliament they may (or may not) take part in committee work, where they will discuss matters of interest to that committee and question ministers and officials. Nothing particularly professional about that. Further they may, or may not, take part in debates in the House of Commons; they may or may not ask questions of ministers, and they vote.

In almost every single case, they vote the way that they are told to vote, so they don’t need to think about the matters that are put before them. They do not even need to attend the debates, because, no matter what is said in the debate, they way they vote has been decided in advance by the Whips. MPs didn’t have to read the Lisbon Treaty, for example. They voted the way that they were told to vote on it. If they never even heard of the Lisbon Treaty, it wouldn’t have mattered a hoot.

Now, of course, some MPs are hard working, and they do read briefs and they work hard to get things for their area, but none of this is a requirement. Of course, you might also say that every 4 or 5 years they have to face the electorate, but as well over half the seats are as safe as houses, in many cases that is irrelevant.

So, can someone tell me what it is that they do that makes them worth more than three times the average salary? Damned if I can see it.

Subrosa has a poll running on her blog on just this subject. It will be interesting to see what results that brings. I'll keep you posted. In the meaning this link will take your there.



  1. Link their pay to the civil service.

    That ought to keep everything fair- and its a heck of a lot better than giving them massive expenses.

    That said, we do not want to prevent poorer people becoming parliamentary representatives- otherwise we may never have had Keir Hardie, and other great social reformers- indeed Edward Heath was the son of a builder, it is important to keep representation open to the many, rather than a few rich intellectuals... a Tory I do believe in equality of opportunity after all!

  2. Why not pay them the national average, provide a flat (fully furnished and equipped for them near Westminster if desired) and provide office and admin staff via the civil service. Cover expenses fairly for transport and communications.

    Then just watch the national average wage rise ;-)

  3. I've a wee poll running. It's quite interesting, particularly those who voted for 'none of the above'.

    When I stop it let's see if some will explain what their alternative would be.

    Well done for highlighting this young man!

  4. QM, you're as cynical as me. :)

  5. You can always have unpaid MPs if you want only those with means to support was the system for many centuries

  6. Not a bad idea Dean. My neighbour works for the Civil Service. I think he's on about £14,000. If he goes on a course he's allowed £10 a day or thereby for food, and second class travel.

    I guess they might want to be paid a bit more. But their jobs are nothing like the top level of the Civil Service. There is no way they should be paid the same as Perm Secs.

  7. QM; That's spot on. They seem to think that we can live on that. Why can't they?

    Totally agree about the flats and the civil service providing the typists.

  8. NO Niko. That's not what we want. I asked what you thought we should pay them, and if you thought £80,000 was justified. I think it isn't. But I'm not suggesting that only the super rich should be able to afford to play at being MPs.

    I'm just looking at their qualifications, and their duties and thinking.... too much.

  9. SR:

    I've added a link to your poll. I'll be interested in the results... Can you let me know when the poll closes and I'll announce it here too. ;¬)

    I think at one time you pointed out that they shouldn't get the full salalry right away. There should be a sliding scale the same as everyone else has.

    I think that would be a good idea too. As it would be too difficult for them to have a performance appraisal, it would have to be done on length of service, I suppose, but it should exist none the less.

    Then we could sort out the people who really want to job for the reasons that they SHOULD want it, rather than for the prestige, the money and the fiddles.

  10. They should be unpaid then we would have Rich Torys and union supported Labour.

    the consequence would be Tory vermin in Government but every now and then a labour one.
    no lib dems no snp nobody else

    the rest can go to hell Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all.

    the Westminster old firm

    thats what we want !

  11. Mr Mxyzptlk,

    Is that kind of offensive talk really neccessary?

    I would hope you'd accept that I am far from 'vermin', just because I am Tory.

    Just as someone isn't a 'traitor' just because they are socialists.

    Mutual respect is surely desirable?

  12. Dean. I'm sure Niko knows perfectly well that you are far from vermin. There are good people in the Tories and there are good people in Labour. And there are some right twats in both parties.

    No one is suggesting that they work for nothing Niko. You invented that. We were asking if you thought that seriously, looking at the work that they do, they are worth £80,000.

    Should there be some sliding scale? Should they lose some money of they take on outside work? What should we pay them.

    Niko, calling people vermin doesn't really advance the argument in any way. The ones who have abused the system are lowlife, but remember there were just as many on the Labour benches as the Tories.

  13. just quoting dear old nye bevan

    That is why no amount of cajolery can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory Party that inflicted those experiences on me. So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin. They condemned millions of first-class people to semi-starvation.

  14. Mr Mxyzptlk,

    So your's is the politics of hate?

    Let me say to you, that no amount of ideological literature, and no amount of bile-ful name calling shall ever disuade me from my political values.

    I am far from vermin, but frankly the moment you spout such hate you lose any argument, and any legitmate point you were trying to make.


  15. Erm Niko, who was it that doubled the basic rate of tax? How did that effect the poorest? And when they were dragged screaming to do something about it, he did, but left the VERY poorest still worse off.

    Your hatred of the Tories is not unreasonable, but I think you should accept that there are many who feel the same about the Labour Party, possibly those who may feel that about the Nationalists, breaking up their beloved union.

    It's important to recognise that although some of their policies may be despicable, the people are not.

    I prefer a more conciliatory attitude myself.

    Dean, I’m pretty sure that Niko knows perfectly well that not all Tories are vermin... very few are.

    It’s not unreasonable for him to assume that they care not one whit for poorer people. That’s the way they have behaved in the past. Unfortunately, exactly like New Labour.

    Frankly standing back and not being a member or supporter of either, I see precious little difference between the two main English-based parties.

  16. Tris,

    I do not accept that my Party is 'English based' at all. It is British based, as much Scottish as is Welsh and English [and N.I too given the union with the UUP].

    But I understand [and agree somwhat with] your point on Labour and Tory effectively jumping into the middle ground.

    But with respect- it is Labour that has effectively become my Party, rather than my Party changing to copy the government.

  17. First of all Dean, I meant English based in that they are based in London, in England, but to be fair the bulk of what they are about is England (not unreasonably considering the capital of England alone has around twice the population of Scotland, and three times that of Wales and 5 times that of NI).

    The parties have found themselves in the idle ground as you suggest which leaves little to pick and choose; indeed only this evening I was discussing what would have been different if the Tories had been in power now.

    Would they have reigned in the greed of the top businessmen? Would they have not gone to war in Afghanistan? Would they have taken sides with the French, Chinese and Russians against the USA over Iraq? Would the pensions be any higher? Would fewer people or more people have died of the cold and malnutrition? Would more people in England be able to read and write, and would their Health Service be any better or worse? Would the troops be any better equipped or rationed?

    I think that although there would have been tinkering round the edges, no real change would have taken place. In short, you and I would have noticed no real difference.

    Tony Blair stole the clothes of Mrs Thatcher, no doubt, and David Cameron saw how successful he was and stole his clothes.

    (Do please try to avoid thinking about Mrs Thatcher and Mr Blair without their clothes on; I was talking metaphorically.)

  18. "Margaret Thatcher naked on a cold night!"

    Right Tris, I'm off to gouge out my minds eye with that spare knife!

  19. Thanks for sharing that thought with me Dean... Can I borrow the knife when you're done?