Sunday 8 December 2013


I’m at something of a loss to understand the plaintive cry of David Cameron that he cannot do anything about the pay rise proposed for MPs.

The sovereign government of the UK can do something about most things that happens in the union, simply by legislating for or against it. Why not so on this issue.

If Danny Alexander and Gideon Osborne can decree that public sector workers may only receive a 1% rise in salaries, never mind that they work for as diverse organisations as Birmingham City Council and The Highlands Health Board, then it beats the hell out of me that all they can do about MPs getting an award of 11% is to beat their breast and wail uncontrollably.

But moving on… should they be getting a pay rise?

There are those who would say that good MPs are worth more that the £66.5 k that they currently receive. Some of them, highly qualified people, quite rightly point out that they could earn ten times that in industry (or fifty times in banking).  

But that’s not a valid argument. After all, there are many who aren’t worth anything like three times the average national wage. But it the job which dictates the salary, not the person. In short you get paid the rate for the job you do, not the job you think you might be able to do.

The job has a flat rate salary; unlike many other jobs it demands no qualifications, and it has no salary scale; you start at £66,500 and you will finish up there, unless you get to be a committee chairman or a minister.

It seems that the job consists of 3 or 4 parts.

MPs are first and foremost constituency members, there to help out and advise their constituents with their travails. But it is a sort of Citizen’s Advice Bureau/social work/facilitator kind of job, often the last resort when officialdom just won’t listen. MPs’ letters go straight to the decision makers, not to junior clerks that deal with mail from the public! In truth much of this work is often done by their administrative staff.
Busy, right?
MPs also take part in debates in the chamber, although a look at the chamber for anything other than showpiece debates, suggests that is not a full time job. And because of pairing they can travel the world with never a care for turning up for votes, witness Anas Sarwar undertaking speaking engagements in Pakistan while important votes were taking place at home, and Gordon Brown virtually never showing up at all.

Of course some MPs take part in committee work where they hold ministers or officials to account often to hilarious effect. Sometimes they seem to hold other members of the committee to account; ask Eilidh Whiteford!
Princess Alexandra opens something,
but it could easily be the local MP
And finally, they get invited to places to play the role of minor royalty, opening community centres and hospital wings and the like and saying a few words.

Some MPs have time to take on a variety of other jobs, from those who sit on a number of boards of directors to some who work part time as dentists, barristers, public speakers, quiz show panellists, etc. There are even the ridiculous ones who take themselves off for extended periods to eat spiders or wear cat suits in reality tv.

So the questions are: is £66,500 around right for the job, or should it be more? Would we get a better standard of MP if we offered more money? If they should get more, is now, when everyone else is restricted to tiny pay rises or none at all, the right time for an increase?

And given that by law the MSPs and AMs in London, Cardiff and Belfast are paid a proportion of Westminster’s members’ salary, should the First Ministers or Mayor try to do something to stop that happening.

What do you think? There is a poll on the right side bar. It was supposed to have an option, 'YES, but not at the moment', which disappeared into the half-world that is Blogger. Apologies. That's why there is a multiple answer option.
York MP Hugh Bayley makes a donation
Finally, I note that the BBC was having difficulty finding an MP who was in favour of the pay rise to appear on the radio this morning. I wonder if anyone has put his head above the parapet.

I hope that those MPs who have been vociferous in decrying the rise will be giving the extra money to charity. Maybe the local food bank would be a good place to start.


  1. Mr. President, I am minded to quote the great American philosopher Murray Rothbard here. The state is an institution of theft. Tax is just about a system of politicians and bureaucrats who steal money from their citizens to squander in the most disgraceful manner. This place is no exception.

    It seems that its an epidemic just like the plague which was exorcised by the most natural of elements fire as voting hasn't worked, just saying.

  2. tris

    They should let them have as much gold as they can
    carry or just open the vaults to the bank of england
    and let them no point opening the
    bank of Scotland as they have taken all the gold
    down south.

    No man has the right to say to his Westminster representative , "Thus far shalt thou go to steal and no further"

    1. As much gold as they can EAT Niko...


  3. Replies
    1. They are public sector, yes, Conan.

      I expect that the reason they don';t come into the category defined by Gideon and his puppy is that they don't quite fit all the criteria for "workers" in that most of them do sod all some of the time, and some of them do sod all most of the time.

      Unless flipping is considered work?

  4. Tris

    For myself there are a lot of parts to this whole issue. First things first MPs will argue that you need to good salary to encourage people from the lowest rungs of society to become MPs, well that only works if they get selected which we know is in the main not the case anymore.

    If they actually worked full time, again we know that they don't. If they were to make it cumpulsory that they must be at all debates and take part to represent their constituents then I could maybe live with it to a degree, of course there would be times that some might be excused. But people like Brown and Darling milking the speech circuit, toffs in the Tories who sit on boards or are lawyers etc are a slap in the face to all of us.

    If they paid for all their own expenses I could maybe agree to a higher basic wage but given they pay for nothing and that 66000 is their flat rate they are really taking the mickey.

    I suppose my final point because I could go on and on and on and on as you know is that given Scottish MPs now serve no purpose at all anymore other than a costly burden I would try to figure out a system where MSPs take on the role, it's not as if they are that busy either doing real work and not opening a foodbank every second. If the Liberals were actually, well Liberals, there would be a fight for a federal system in the UK, but given they have given up liberalism independence is the only answer as there will never be federalism or devo max etc. In fact I would suspect that Scotland will lose powers in the event of a no vote or a serious assualt on the make up of voting within the horrible parliament to marginalise Scottish MPs after the next election which the tories will win no matter what the polls or labour say. The simple fact is when push comes to shove the south east and the important so called parts of london will vote tory.


  5. I think, Bruce, that people from the lower financial parts of society, might well look at £66,500 and thinks that they would never be poor again.

    So, a salary like that would encourage someone like me, who has never earned even half of that, doing a social work, pubic service kind of job.

    Of course they need to have expenses. Even people like me get them. But what has always been wrong with these expenses is simply tradition.

    When this was started it was a old boys' club. They were "gentlemen". A chap wouldn't ask a chap for a receipt; if a chap said dinner had cost £50, then that's what dinner would have cost. A chap from Eton wouldn't lie to another chap from Eton.

    And they were all "gentlemen". It would have been ridiculous to assume that they would live in a small flat, eat in McDonalds, or take the bus. They were mainly squires up from the country, used to first class travel; and a suite at Claridge's.

    And in these days, people like that were used to the best, and it was unthinkable that they wouldn't have it.

    So, although it has been trimmed down, it is still very much a part of the past.

    High time it wasn't.

    We are certainly agreed that it is not a full time job for all of them. Scottish MPs shouldn't be poking their noses into English Welsh or Irish affairs.

    I dare say that some of them do work full time. Being a part of their community, going round visiting places and companies, listening to people's opinions. But as you point out, some of them spend most of their time doing soemthing else.

    Mr Darling is being paid his £66,500 for working mainly for the BT camapaign, even though Tories adn now Labour seem to think of him as being lazy in that too.

    I can't help thinking that he likes earning the huge fees for speaking at events (although as someone said, his presentational skills would put you to sleep, and it's not like he was ever a great success at anything). I reckon he took on the BT job, because it would get him out of the Commons (which he's not that interested in now he's past his prime and is is the wrong generation for going anywhere). Maybe he thought that at last he would have a success and go down in history.

    1. I note that Salmond has said that MSPs will not be following the MPs.

      According to this STV piece.

      I'm not sure how he can guarantee that.

      He probably doesn't have the power to stop the pay rise.

      I guess he may have a debate in parliament and let the public see who is voting for the pay rise and who is against. Clearly only a very few greedy gits would consider voting publicly to give themselves an 11% rise when everyone else at that salary level is having a freeze. So parliament would vote against.

      It's probably the only way he can stop an enforced rise.

      I'd certainly be expecting to see large donations to food banks if people are forced to take a rise that they don't need.

      So far, in England, I've only heard Jack Straw come out in favour.