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.