Sunday, December 23, 2007

Giving Journalism & Politics A Bad Name

You know it's a light news day when a Sunday newspaper has a story about MPs' pay on its front page. Cue today's Mail on Sunday. Their front page headline screams MPs DEMAND 10pc PAY RISE. The story commences: "A political furore erupted last night after it was revealed that MPs are demanding an inflation-busting wage increase of up to £6,000 a year." Five paragraphs later we learn: "It involves a 2.8 per cent hike in April, followed by index-linked rises in the next two years, in addition to an annual £800 top up". So it's not inflation busting at all. And it's recommended by an Independent Senior Salaries Review Body.

The trouble is with stories like this is that mud sticks. Most people reading it will come away with the thought that MPs have their noses stuck in the troughs again. The irony is that neither of the two journalists who wrote the story - Simon Walters and Jonathan Oliver - would get out of bed for the level of salary 'enjoyed' by MPs. I don't blame them for that at all - they work in the private sector, so good luck to them. But to pretend that MPs are overpaid is ludicrous.

Whenever I have written about this subject before it's provoked a torrent of responses from people who believe MPs shouldn;t be paid at all, let alone paid £60,000. Absolute tosh. What those people are arguing for is a Parliament full of rich people who can afford not to be paid. Surely we should pay our MPs at a level where few would actually be put off standing for Parliament. I'd like Parliament to be representative of a number of professions, but few people from those professions would think about standing for Parliament because they would have to take a pay drop. Relatively junior managers in industry or the public sector now command salaries in excess of what MPs earn. What message does it send out that we are happy to pay MPs the same as the Deputy Public Affairs Manager of an NHS Trust?

MPs are in an absolutely no-win situation here. If they speak out in favour of higher salaries they are accused of having their noses in the trough. If they don't they are doing a disservice to their successors, and ensuring that good people won't even bother trying to be MPs. And then we are left with a Parliament full of duds, under achievers and bores. Or have we already got there?

96 comments:

Ed said...

MPs should be paid an amount equivalent to the national median income. There are two reasons in my mind:

1 - they would then be able to see what it's like for families on an average income

2 - it might put people off being career politicians and return Parliament to a place with only people who have already had a good career and therefore have lots of life experience.

Parliament has too many members who have never had a career outside politics and too many members who wouldn't be able to command a decent salary anywhere else.

Would you like Parliament to be full of Sion Simons?

Anonymous said...

is the message that we pay Deputy Public Affairs Managers far too much? or that these managers should get a big wodge of cash to pay for second homes too just like MPs?

Anonymous said...

Tell that to all the police officers in the country. What would the MPs do if they had to do with a pay cut. Strike perhaps?

mitch said...

oh come on ian its not just the salary its the expenses without proof, help with second houses which is abused and a pension nobody else can get thats what makes them look bad.Could you put your hand on your heart and say you wouldn't claim up to the limit knowing there would be no questions asked?.

Craig Ranapia said...

I'd like Parliament to be representative of a number of professions, but few people from those professions would think about standing for Parliament because they would have to take a pay drop.

I have a lot of sympathy with the substance of your post, but I really find it hard to feel much sympathy for MPs and wannabes who complain about having to take a "pay drop". So do many other people in the private sector when they change jobs, or careers or even take on the risk and sacrifice of starting their own business.

mitch said...

The salary and employment conditions of M.P.'s are well known.

Anyone considering standing as an M.P. needs to decide if they can accept that salary and those conditions (including the fact that they may be out of work in a few years). If not, they shouldn't stand.

Most M.P.'s have abused the system for years. In fact, the system is designed to be abused.

M.P.'s are already well paid. To be an M.P. is an honour in itself; people should not expect to leave the Commons rich.

It's a disgrace that self-serving and mostly incompetent M.P.'s are seeking any more salary.

Vienna Woods said...

It's not the salaries that are a problem Iain, it is the parallel troughs that most MP's indulge in that most people object to. I also believe, as Ed has said, that career politicians are never any good! Straight from the school/university debating society, they have precious little to offer, other than a mouth and no experience of anything. I'm sure that it's just a big game for a lot of them. If it were not so serious, it would be laughable!

la breeze said...

Like Mitch says, there are other perks which raise the money paid to an MP and are open to abuse - the second homes allowance, the pension, the communications allowance.

Also I urge people to look at this story on Guido's blog, comparing the daily food allowances for school children, armed forces personnel, prisoners and MPs.

http://www.order-order.com/2007/12/food-alllowances-school-children-armed.html

Our elected representatives are so hard done by, aren't they Iain???!!

Maybe if MP's began EARNING our respect there wouldn't be such levels of public animosity towards increasing their pay. However with the flurry of sleaze, self-importance and ignorance that characterises much of the political class today, no wonder people disregard our elected representatives so much!

Anonymous said...

The argument is not about the level of MPs pay but the sheer hypocrisy of demanding that public sector workers including the police pay rises will fuel inflation if they breach the guidelines but it's apparently ok for MPs to vote themselves a 10% increase at the same time.

Its another example of double standards and the old maxim of "Do as we say not as we do" that sticks in the craw of the electorate.

No wonder politicians are held in such low esteem

William Gruff said...

I'd like MPs to be representative of those, the overwhelming majority, who are not professionals, i.e. the bulk of their constituents.

Your 'meritocratic' approach does nothing more than support the all too transparently obvious argument that the only way to attract those who are primarily interested in advancement and reward to positions of power and influence is to offer them greater opportunities for advancement and surer guarantees of greater rewards. That is all well and good if the state is merely a vast corporation but what of those who wish only to get on with their lives without scrambling over the backs of the less ambitious? What of the higher ideals of public service?

As you rightly observe, the idea that MPs should be paid nothing is absurd but the idea that they should be remunerated at levels commensurate with positions they might achieve in private practice is equally so.

Iain Dale said...

Anonymous, you clearly hasven;t read a word I wrote. The rise is not 10% it is inflation indexed over three years. 2.8% this year and whatever inflation is for the next two years. You rather prove my point.

And it's not MPS who are in favour of not paying the Police it is Labour Ministers. Most MPs would galdly give the Police the 2.5% they were awarded.

Anonymous said...

You people need to think a bit harder about this.

The only reason you can get so worked up about MPs pay is because the system is so transparent. If you really want to get worked up about levels of pay to publicly employed people, then try civil servants.

There are 4 employees of my local district council that get paid more than MPs for goodness sake, and all with fantastic pensions packages, generous holiday allowances and a level of sickness over double that in the private sector.

And In all my time elected to local government I have never known anyone sacked for anything.

It's all very well sitting smugly at home in front of your computer pontificating about the unfairness of MPs pay but, as Iain says, who do you want in charge? Just rich people who think of it as a hobby or Union sponsored apparatchiks?

I'll bet almost none of you have any experience of the workload that (responsible) MPs have to deal with or the stress this and the constant threat of losing their income puts on their families.

In comparison, huge numbers at the upper levels of local government (and all other branches of government) have a very easy life indeed.

arf said...

Have to say MP's pay puts me off - the sheer amount required to stand as a candidate, then something that looks barely like a living wage by London standards.

Oh, and having to live in London, the biggest cost of all.

Dan said...

Pay them properly - and to my mind that should be in the £80-100k bracket for your average MP - more for ministers and the PM, but that ought to be assessed by an independent review body.

Expenses should only be paid on actual spends, and EVERY transaction should require a receipt - which is what most people would have to do in an ordinary job.

However, no-one should be allowed to have any "outside" business involvements; no directorships, shares, options etc, for probity's sake and somehow I think that might help "focus" the minds of the shadow cabinet.

Anonymous said...

Iain - Your last sentence sums it up. There are an awful lot of so called career politicians who have never experienced the real world of work and I find it bizarre that those politicians who have outside interests are then accused of being part-time MPs.

I would much prefer part-time MPs who at least have some knowledge of the world outside just politics as to many of the non-entities that now infest the green benches adding little to the governance of this once great country.

Matthew said...

Completely agree with Iain. Typical MoS self-righteous crap. The anti-corruption argument for comfortably-paid representatives is rock-solid, and dates back three centuries. And apart from anything else, if you get anywhere near the top of the private sector you stand to be paid ten times as much - how on earth is Parliament expected to attract anything other than career political hacks if it doesn't offer a financial incentive?

I'm sorry, but all the populist stuff about MPs' pay in relation to policemen or nurses is crap. The job of MP does not compare to the job of a rank-and-file public sector worker. It is very near the top of the tree, and it should be paid as such.

Don't believe the MoS's hype. If you want to complain about something, complain about civil service compensation packages. Or complain about city bonuses. Or complain about Mr Smith next door taking home more than you do.

The capacity for righteous indignation of some of the people on here is astonishing.

Anonymous said...

Politicians may b e masters of spin, but they are terrible at explaining what they do. Televising Parliament has not helped, focusing on attendance at PMQs. Most people never see the hard and useful work MPs do as constituency representatives and they have no idea of the hours demanded for being what is effectively a Citizens Advice Bureau. When did we last see a programme following a backbencher for a week?

For playing party politics they are worth around a fiver. But they deserve a decent salary for doing their traditional job. There are some who seem to think they can draw a parliamentary salary while travelling the world playing golf, but most are conscientious individuals who first and foremost want to serve their constituencies .

Perhaps you should make a documentary about MPs' real work, Iain?

Guido Fawkes Esq. said...

Let them be paid for performance by their constituents.

Despite the supposedly low salaries there seems to be ample over-supply of applicants for the jobs.

dehautenbas said...

Perhaps if we cut the number of MPs by half - to reflect their transfer of power and responsibility to the EU - we could discuss their pay-packets. I'm willing to ring-fence the salaries for a couple of years, but surely after that they should be paid something similar to a town councillor. They have few powers; they take little responsibility. What is the purpose of most of them? Could they be retrained, perhaps, to flip burgers?

Geezer said...

They should make their pay performance related, especially government ministers! and scrap their "perks".

Anonymous said...

£60,000 is quite enough. Professors and senior academics are expected to make do with less.

Anonymous said...

Like a lot of people I know, I have a pretty low opinion of MPs as a group and the mess they make of so many things. They are already reasonably well paid. I'd do their job for half their pay. If you believe in what you are doing money should not be key. I gave up a six figure salary whilst John Major was still PM in order to do something better but much less well paid. To those MPs who say they could earn far more outside parliament, I say so what. Let them go if they want to.

Anonymous said...

What a shame Ian, you are usually so fair minded in your comments. But in this case, the possibility of you becoming an MP has warped your reasoning.

Since being an MP is only a part-time job it should be rewarded as such.
Oh, you say it is not part time , well please explain all the other jobs and 'commissions' they get? How many of them are directors of companies or serve a trade union, mostly because of the potential influence that their paymasters' perceive!

Please return to the real world where we all know that politicians, who try to hide behind the shield of 'doing good' know that at the same time they are doing well for themselves.
Note, that there is never a unfilled vacancy for a safe seat in parliament---I wonder why!!

John M Ward said...

Mitch wrote: "oh come on ian its not just the salary its the expenses without proof, help with second houses which is abused and a pension nobody else can get thats what makes them look bad."

These imponderables do indeed muddy the water. The situation as-is would be fine if all MPs were honest in their claims. It is because some are not that the whole category has tended to fall into a certain degree of disrepute.

Mitch went on: "Could you put your hand on your heart and say you wouldn't claim up to the limit knowing there would be no questions asked?"

He might. I certainly could, and if I can, then so can others. I don't claim anything beyond the "automatic" allowance of £8,600 or so, fully taxed by the way! I absorb all travel and subsistence costs, and always have done.

mitch said...

Mps pay should reflect the qualifications required for the job and relevant experience required like real jobs.This would put them on minimum wage if the world was fair.
What real world experience did GB have to control a budget of 650billion or even running a country of 60000000 people? lecturing perhaps.

mirthios said...

MPs should be paid whatever their constiuents are willing to afford. If you, Iain, or any of your fellow aspirants can persuade your 60,000 or so constituents to fork out 5 quid a year for your services, good luck to you. If not, stay out of the kitchen! Why should a tax on my pension fund your extravagences? What do you do for me?

Guthrum said...

Cut the number of MP's to 100, devolve power back to local power.

They have got their noses in the trough, that is why 17 million people no longer vote

verity said...

Well said, Vienna Woods!

The primary qualification for an MP, other than ego and/or the desire to serve, should be a previous career spanning seven or eight or 10 years in the private sector. Young people who seek go through university with the goal of getting straight into a position of regulating the lives of people older and much more experienced than themselves are too ridiculous to govering others.

Eight or 10 years in the [genuinely, wealth creating] private sector would knock some of the juvenile,snippy arrogance out of them.

Dehautenbas has a good point. As they don't has as much to do nor as much responsibility now that the traitors have given our country away to European apparachiks, perhaps their salaries should be halved.

Graeme said...

As many have said, it's not the base salary which annoys us, Iain. It's the parallel troughs with which the unprincipled can enrich themselves at our expense. Look at the blatant abuse of the housing payments which has allowed Mr and Mrs Balls to buy a huge house in Hackney, which they use as their family home, despite claiming that it's their "London" accommodation while they're away from their northern constituencies. Then add in the number of MPs who employ their spouses as their admin assistants. Then recall that for "small" expenses (which can run into the hundreds of pounds) honourable members don't even have to supply receipts! The analogy with the private sector simply doesn't hold up, I'm afraid: I don't know anyone in the private sector who can get away with simply claiming hundreds of pounds in 'expenses' from their company without having to prove what it's for. I certainly don't know anyone else who can make the taxpayer pay the interest on a mortgage to buy them a second London home. That stinks (Mr and Mrs Balls: I mean you).

The reason MPs continue to be castigated whenever their base salary rises is that they've never tackled these systemic issues. I don't actually buy that they ought to be paid much more than the 60K by the way, but I would be willing to listen to such an argument if, first, the stinking mess of their expenses and allowances system was resolved.

Anonymous said...

We need to reduce the number of MPs. Much of our legislation comes from Brussels and technology means that we can contact Government Departments ourselves without using MPs. My one contact with an MP over a local issue proved the point as he sent my letter to the relevant government department and then forwarded that department's response. He was in fact a mail box.

1. Reduce number of MPs by 40%
2. Ensure that all expenses claimed are substantiated.
3. Purchase a hotel for MPs who do not live in London to be accommodated. Otherwise provide them with a fixed sum of money for accommodation. Many only spend a couple of nights away from home. Most other employers provide the cost of a hotel room and one has to support the claim.
4. As MPs can lose their jobs then it is important that they maintain professional skills. However, they should not receive an income - all work should be voluntary with expenses only paid. I am astonished when I read of MPs conducting criminal trials over many weeks. They obviously do not have a full time parliamentary job.
5. Remove all perks - heavily subsidised food, travel, becoming QCs (without competing once elected) etc etc.
6. Ensure a retirement age comparable to other industries. Everyone has to retire at a given age - why not MP's?

If all of the above is met, I am more than happy to pay MPs a higher salary. We may just get a decent amount of work out of them.

The review board that sets MPs salaries is independent. So too was the settlement determined for the police. I hope the same restrictions apply.

neil craig said...

I agree with you on this Iain. There is a case for a lot fewer MPs (MSPs, councillors, quango members etc etc) but not for paying them less.

I will admit to being a bit concerned about the amount of "expense" money they get, some of which seems to be a way of paying more while not letting the public notice - I would rather be above board. I am also concerned about the way former MPS end up on boards & former PMs riding the gravy train round the US, but am not sure what cure would not be worse than the disease.

Anonymous said...

Firstly, why should MP's get 2.8% and the police only 1.9%?

It might restore trust in politics if MP's were to take a below inflation rise - just as they are planning to impose upon millions of public sector workers. Otherwise the hypocrisy is all too predictable.


Secondly, this is nothing, NOTHING like as big a story as what the government are currently doing with GP's.

The average GP gets about £40 per hour - much less than other comparable professionals.

The recent GP contract encouraged GP's to do well - they were paid more if they met targets, thereby improving the health of the nation. They did very well and were paid more as a result.

The DoH has subsequently used GP's as the fall guys for all the ills of the NHS, and dispicable this is too.

Last week GP's rejected a new contract which would seek to cut their pay for working longer hours and working antisocial hours. Who else would take a pay cut to be at work longer and see their family less.

The new contract also would result in poorer care for the most vulnerable in our society by reducing daytime opening. Don't forget that 84% of people are happy with current GP opening hours.

When GP's rejected this contract, the DoH responded by unilaterally deciding to cut the pay of each and every GP by £12,000.

Needless to say, there is uproar.

GP's are SERIOUSLY considering some form of mass action. One option is to 'do a dentist' and for all GP's to resign from the NHS overnight.

Whatever the outcome, there will be a HUGE fight over this. El Gordo has managed to alienate every GP in the country and he will reap what he has sown.

Methinks the end of NHS primary care is a more important story than GP pay. Remember, you heard it here first!

Gallimaufry said...

Given that the legislative role of the House of Commons now predominantly consists of rubber stamping EU directives gold-plated by Departments, MPs are now mainly advocates for constituents to mitigate local and central government policies. Why not introduce compulsory competitive tendering for MPs' salaries by making them state on the ballot form what salary they desire. Let the people decide.

Richard Elliot said...

I'm with you Iain, I don't think MPs pay is excessive. We want to attract the best people to represent us and run the country.

Jess The Dog said...

The argument Iain advances would perhaps be a fair one if not for the following points:

1. MPs are the only public servants to have seen significant increases to their pension scheme. All other professions have seen the closure of final salary schemes, the extension of the retirement age, the reduction of benefits for new joiners.

2. No other profession has a range of additional allowances and benefits as those that MPs enjoy, effectively taking their income beyond £100K. Second home allowances, anyone?

3. Many MPs have additional incomes from directorships and make hundreds of thousands (or even millions) after leaving politics. None of this is deducted from their salary or pension.

4. MPs are, quite frankly, unaccountable. Fiddle the expenses? Sleep with the junior staff? Any of these would be sacking offences in civvy street.

5. There is no need to pay extra for recruitment or retention reasons....there are plenty of candidates and little retention problem. In Scotland, councillors were actually paid a golden handshake to make way for new blood!

6. Any argument for abiding by the independent recommendation has been blown out the water by the failure to pay the police in full.

There is an enormous gulf between the public and politicans, getting wider every day. This discontent will spill over one day, probably into widespread strike action in the public sector. Most people on "normal" salaries do not enjoy being told their pay is to increase at or below the rate of inflation, at the same time as paying over £1 per litre of petrol and nearly £1.50 for a loaf of bread.

Travis Bickle said...

Richard Elliot said "I don't think MPs pay is excessive. We want to attract the best people to represent us and run the country."

That was exactly the same argument they used years ago before MPs got paid the amounts they enjoy today, and look what we've ended up with! Pay them double and Labour will still trawl student activists to fill their safe seats.

In any case we don't run our own affairs any longer so we're relying on the failed politicians in Europe, who move onto the EU gravy train, to be a darn sight better than most of our motley crew. Some hope.

Iain - I think that the government is rather keen on headline compound figures for public sector pay rises that are actually staged over several years, so in this case the journos are entitled to do the same.

dearieme said...

"a Parliament full of rich people who can afford not to be paid": it attracted some remarkably able people when it was like that, who managed to run a fifth of the world with fewer civil servants than are now needed to run Hartlepool.

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

I believe MPs should be paid either:

a) Nothing

OR

b) £200,000 per annum and NO expenses.

I can't decide between these two alternatives, but I am sure the present system gives us the worst of both worlds.

Anonymous said...

I have never agreed with Iain. But for a change I do. It is a weird feeling, I don't like it.

rightsideforum.com said...

I don't think most people would have a problem with MPs getting paid more - if they could feel they had earned it. The perception is that they haven't. Also, whether rightfully or wrongfully some of our front line servies are fighting the government over pay increases, and this makes it look worse not to mention the abuse of the rules by certain ministers with regard their financial affairs...

verity said...

Richard Elliott says he doesn't think MPs' pay is excessive because "... we want to attract the best people to represent us and run the country." Well, it hasn't worked so far.

Graeme's idea of purchasing a hotel for MPs to stay in in London is brilliant. They don't need a London home. Hotels, as Graeme says, are good enough for travelling executives, including chief executives of big companies.

Before our country was ceded to the EUSSR without a shot being fired, and our MPs were still legislators of more than drinking hours and traffic cones, I would have agreed with the suggestion of paying them more.

Singapore, which is an independent country with a very strong military, pays its PM and its MPs on a level comparable with top people in industry. For obvious reasons. They want the top people to be attracted to government and not be put off by a diminution of income. Prime Minister Lee Hsien-Loong has a salary in excess of US$2m a year. You can judge the quality of the people running the country by a visit to Singapore.

I know LHL has his critics, but I believe most Singaporeans would say they get value for money from their legislators.

The quality of British MPs, by and large, is poor. They seem to be more reoccupied by their perks and fiddling their accounts than trying to run our country properly. Look what Blair was allowed to get away with in terms of fascist legislation. The Labour MPs had numbers large enough to have stopped him, but he was a good little earner - election winner - for them, so to hell with our democracy.

I would slash the numbers of MPs by at least 50% and have most legislation - as though we needed any more - put to electronic referenda.

Anonymous said...

And the Ind.Senior Salaries Body were appointed by who?

mrshifty said...

Good luck with your career in politics.

neil craig said...

Lets not worry to much about the poor GPs struggling along on £40 per hour.

The story here is that a few years ago Labour, thinking GPs were overpaid, revised their terms giving them a very good per hour rate to compensate for them losing their basic. Turned out they were working more hours than people thought so on the new rates their pay went way up. Clearly NuLabour weren't as good at their sums as the GMC. This was explained to me by a doctor & she didn't feel hard done by.

So if they aren't getting much now this merely moes them back in the general direction of the differentials they had before.

Anonymous said...

Iain is correct on this one. Though matters change a little when you consider MPs expenses & benefits plus pay as a whole package. Not to mention the unstated benefits during and after their political career.

Anonymous said...

If it were just the indexed linked increases, you would be correct, it could not be claimed that it was inflation busting... but add the additional "annual £800 top up" and it clearly is.

However there is also an argument that the Government should be bearing down on inflation, and oppose an inflation linked award. After all, what point is there to an inflation linked increase, if that is then to be wiped out by further inflation?

Isn't that along the lines of the argument the Government have used against the police?

haddock said...

I do not think £60,000 per year excessive..... if the amount was paid by the prospective MP for the chance to get his snout in the trough. The Kinnocks would have seen a good return on their investment, and Blair ..... etc etc.
If MPs represented the views of the English people rather than just their own, they may be thought by the people to be to be worth a salary.

Ed said...

I want to add that I don't think that this country is served by full-time legislators. Parliament spews out interfering and largely repetitive and ever more micro-managing legislation.

Can't we have a part-time Parliament that legislates when there is a genuine need?

Also the £60,000 is for a backbench MP with no responsibility for "running the country" apart from to turn up and follow the party whip now and again. Those MPs who actually take some ministerial responsibility are rewarded handsomely.

Iain, if a majority of MPs are in favour of 2.5% for Police Officers, then why aren't they overturning Ms Smith's decision? Or does Parliament have no teeth any more?

I assume, Iain, that you won't be trying to stand anywhere now you know how shocking the pay is.

Chuck Unsworth said...

What is the justification - the rationale - for paying MPs anyway?

I've yet to see any rational explanation at all. As to their other - multiple - financial benefits, where is the justification for these as well?

A Guido says, they should be paid by result. Not too difficult a concept, is it? Quite simple to draw up a Rate Card, too. But how many MPs would be prepared to take their chances with a scheme of that nature?

Christopher said...

Iain, you are desperate to get elected.
I think you should declare an interest!

Kris said...

how about similar pay increases for police, nurses and prison officers?

Oh no! It would ruin the economy. Amazing that MPs pay rises don't.

verity said...

Kris asks what about a pay rise for "police, nurses and prison officers?"

In a properly run country, these services would be privatised and negotiations would have absolutely nothing to do with an all-controlling government.

Ed asks: "Can't we have a part-time Parliament that legislates when there is a genuine need?"

That's just what the Icelanders, proud owners of the first Parliament in the world had. Al-Thingi. Around 700 AD. They only met, if I am correct, two or three times a year, and if they didn't think there would be enough to discuss, they cancelled it.

Isn't that just great?

Tony Hannon said...

Ignorant, out of context, muck stirring, exaggerated falsehoods about other people from a right-wing newspaper?

Really?

And they are usually such a reasoned bunch of altruistic truth tellers who srcatch out a living with the help of a couple of pounds by selling adverts to Royal Mint ceremonial Coins and tailored house slippers.

canvas said...

This just proves how much the UK undervalues teachers, nurses and the police.

GeoffH said...

I'm a bit fed up with constant reading of MPs "running the country".

They do not. Nor does the Government.

They merely legislate; the country 'runs' itself. Or rather, no-one runs the country, there is no country to 'run'.

Just a conglomeration of households, individuals, companies, societies, charities etc, all of whom are quite capable of running their own affairs without the interference - legislation - of MPs.

Yak40 said...

And then we are left with a Parliament full of duds, under achievers and bores.

Just like the Government !

Anonymous said...

"But to pretend that MPs are overpaid is ludicrous"
Spoken like a true politician.....

Madasafish said...

All bollocks (pardon the language)
Pay all politicians in the Government on results and the Opposition on performance .

On that basis Neither major party would be paid anything.

It would concentrate minds and kill off voting because the Party says so.. see Iraq ID cards etc.

jaymason44 said...

not many people mind MP's being paid but when we look at Parliamnet on TV, see expenses they claim, see the fact that public servants on minimum wage such as cleaners get paltry rises, the police go to arbitartion and get shafted that's why MP's pay is in the public domain and a very tricky subject

Vienna Woods said...

Dehautenbas wrote,

...but surely after that they should be paid something similar to a town councillor.

Unless things have changed dramatically over the years since I was a Town and District Councillor, they do not receive any remuneration other than travel costs to official meetings and some other minor expenses against receipts. As far as I am aware only the likes of the big cities have paid mayoral positions (I'm not sure if their councillors are also remunerated).

As there have been several comments regarding local councillors in this thread, I would point out that having people calling you day and night for work that is essentially unpaid, has to be a strain on any family, particularly as it's usually someone*'s misery you are dealing with most of the time. There wasn't anything in it for me and I was fairly exhausted when after 7 years I called it a day! If MP's did half the work that I did, they would be worth it, but unfortunately today's shower neither listen to their own constituents following election day and are as much use as a nodding dog following the party line! Maybe we should rid ourselves of the political parties altogether to ensure our MP's conform to our wishes and not assign ourselves to bunch of idiotic ideas and policies, very few of which we agree with.

jafo said...

Don't agree with you here at all, Iain.

Have to attract the best people? What we've got are the best then - shome mistake shurely.......

To echo others, how come this reasoning doesn't apply to the Police, Nurses, Prison Officers - come to think of it, what about Hospital Cleaners - a highly responsible job which needs doing well, and which pays a pittance?

Market forces must apply - after all, they do when reneging on "binding arbitration" for the Police. MPs have done very well over the last 10 years and there's hundreds of applicants for every seat. The perks are incredible and the pension is amazing - £20,000 per year if you were elected in 1997 apparently, not bad for 10 years service. All for sitting there like a nodding dog cheering when the PM comes out with some meaningless platitude.

There certainly are hard-working, principled MPs with integrity - but let's not pretend they're all like that, because they aren't.

Anonymous said...

Some points:

1- For the last three years GP's have had a pay rise of 0.0%. That's a pay cut of up to 10% in real terms.

2- The new contract was a form of payment by results. The DoH now want to penalise GP's for doing well - for making us all healthier. This seems counter-intuitive

3- The very recent contract negotiations seek to give GP's an overt pay cut to work longer and more anti-social hours - not a covert pay cut via 0% pay rises.

4- Could you think of any other group of people who would agree to work more for less?

5- The GP pay rise took them to an adequate level, whereas they had been underpaid before, and there was a consequent staffing crisis.

6- Giving GP's fresh pay cuts will recreate the staffing crisis. Many GP's in their 50's will quit.

7- There is VERY REAL talk of mass GP resignation from the NHS.

8- Brown will be finished if the NHS looses primary care provision.

9- Talk of MP pay is only a symbolic issue (albeit a strong one). GP pay negotiations are vastly more important and if done badly will be vastly more harmful to the UK plc.

John said...

Iain

Although many of the points I would like to make have already been made by other contributors, this is a subject about which I feel strongly so would like to highlight a few issues:

a) MPs pay isn't just about their salaries. They have access to a ridiculous set of allowances with very little scrutiny and the most generous pension system in the UK. Compare with MSPs, where you can view online every single receipt for expenses that they claim. Also I seem to remember a blogger - Guido? - highlighting little known facts such as if you get to be Speaker, for as little as one day, you can then retire on a full pension? Par for the course...

b) MPs salaries will be too high until some of my friends who are earning £100s of thousands but are willing to "give it all up" to become MPs, are no longer willing to do so!

c) If my MP was truly debating and setting the strategy of the nation, maybe they would be worth a lot of money. But they aren't. Most MPs are either 'bound' to vote for the government or, as backbenchers, little more than glorified local councillors. Even if they display independence they can't properly scrutinise legislation arising as a result of EU directives.

Finally, the general point: the answer to not liking Labour isn't to vote Conservative (and vice-versa). The answer is less government overall.

Anonymous said...

If MPs are so poorly paid how come that there are at least three applicants for every vacancy?

Torygirl said...

Here, here, Iain. Many MPs work extremely hard and I think they are entitled to be paid well for what they do - although maybe there should be some sort of performance-related pay?! Haha.

And why oh why do the papers go on and on about MPs claiming too much, then expect, rightly, that they represent their constituents well? Letters need postage and staff salaries need paying, as believe it or not ordinary people to tend to work for them, and damned hard too!

The money's all ring-fenced, people who are moaning in this thread, and MPs have to declare everything, so I think 60K for an MP is bloody good value as they could make a hell of a lot more in the private sector. You only have to look at America to see what real corruption is in representatives!

Unsworth said...

@ Torygirl:

"The money's all ring-fenced, people who are moaning in this thread, and MPs have to declare everything,"

Complete nonsense. The cash is certainly not ringfenced nor do MPs have to declare (except in the very loosest sense).

Given your conviction that MPs provide very good value for money no doubt you'd be perfectly happy to see their full accounts published.

So, why do they steadfastly and consistently refuse?

Byeck said...

'Relatively junior managers command salaries in excess of MP's'

Nay lad, they don't and what about the perks?

A few examples: What junior manager can claim £250 in expenses without submitting a receipt?

What junior manager can employ the missis in a sinecure?

What junior manager can moonlight as a 'consultant'?

And finally, if they are underpaid, why do so many, including yourself, want to join their ranks?

Alex said...

Here is a simple solution. Each candidate at a general election should state clearly how much they would like to be paid, and that is what they get, paid for entirely by a levy on the registered voters in the constituency that put them in Westminster.

verity said...

Tory Girl thinks MPs could make much more in the private sector.

I think that most of them could not.

Someone above said that MPs do not have to produce receipts for expenses under a certain amount. The door is wide open to corruption and cheating, as so many socialist MPs do with their second homes and so on. But Tory Girl finds this mild.

She writes: "You only have to look at America to see what real corruption is in representatives!" You're right! Teddy Kennedy! Mayor Daley and the whole Chicago vote rigging sewer! John F Kennedy's father! Whoaaah! Mega!

The current big bust in New Jersey - 11 Democrats nabbed so far!

Bill and Hillary Clinton, to say the least!

Strange how it's always the socialists with their snouts rooting around for illegal money and vote rigging, as in Jack Straw's constituency and so-called "postal voting" aka "ballot stuffing", isn't it?

Broon's talking bawgie said...

Can we nail the lie that there is any uncertainty or risk in being an MP compared to having a proper job?

Every bugger else in the country lives at daily risk of being canned with a month's notice and a payoff of about £250 per year of service.

Parliaments last 4 years so on average an MP has two years of guaranteed employment. That's a year and twenty-three months more than everybody else.

If they lose their seat they get a colossal redundo payoff and they also accumulate gilt-edged pensions at a phenomenal rate.

An MP who serves one term is financially pretty much made for life.

Factor all that in, and the fact that the Labour riff-raff have never had a real job in most cases, and it's clear that they are grossly, grossly overpaid for what is basically a part-time job.

The accurate comparator to use is with primary school teachers, who work similar hours across a similar year but of whom rather more fitness for purpose is expected.

MPs should thus get about £35,000 a year, 4% employer's sub to a defined contribution pension like the rest of us have, and *no* expenses. There should be a typing pool and an entitlement to centrally-provided research and admin suppoort services. The hotel idea is good - it should not come as a surprise that Parliament is in London, so if you aren't prepared to commute there, don't apply for the job. All expenses above £5 should be justified with a reaosn and a receipt, both to be randomly audited.

In other words - live like the peasants you aspire to ruling.

£35,000 is far more than Byers, Straw, Broon, or any of the rest were able to earn off their wits alone before they boarded the gravy train. Blair made more, and if he'd had to face the realistic prospect of making less in Parliament than in the law, the perhaps we'd have been spared the awful little creep.

Broon's talking bawgie said...

Oh, and I like the idea of about 200 MPs, too, since we're ruled from Brussels anyway.

Atlas shrugged said...

Simple and fair solution.

£30,000 per year the rest at whatever is agreed and payed for by the local party constituency.

Wages should be paid by the person or persons that gave the employee the job in the first place, in an ideal world.

Unfortunately this is far from an ideal world. In fact this country in particular is fast becoming as corrupt as any other place in the cosmos.

To any form of criminal parliamentary or otherwise, no amount of wages or ill gotten gains is ever enough. NOT EVER.

Utter selfish Greed is one of the seven deadly sins which is never deadly enough for the greedy themselves. However it has a very well documented history of being very deadly indeed, for its innocent victims.

We do not need talent in parliament we need honesty above all. Some thing that is still in good supply among the ordinary people.

Its just a shame its as rare as rocking shit at the mother of all parliaments.

Iain you talk like I used to when I was 17. Please try to learn something about the real world before you start drawing your pension?

verity said...

I think, given that we are ruled from Brussels, that 250 MPs would be about right. Also, given that not much important legislation is addressed in Britain, as opposed to Belgium, most of it could be done by internet referenda.

Anonymous said...

It's a crime that you receive any money from the state at all! If you run for parliament, it's your responsibility to make sure that you or your party can support you when you're elected.

Don't mention that twaddle about parliament then only being for the rich; the trade union movement was perfectly capable of supporting elected working people before parliamentary salaries grew so vast.

I can't say how disappointed I am. I thought you would bring a blast of fresh air to Westminster and confront the hordes of vested interests, but you've gone native before even being elected.

Anonymous said...

verity said ..."door is wide open to corruption and cheating, as so many socialist MPs do with their second homes and so on"

Why do you assume that it is only the socialist MPs who have their snouts in the trough?

Anonymous said...

verity said...
"I think, given that we are ruled from Brussels ..."

I didn't know that Brussels had any influence over Mexico.

aardvark said...

Anonymous said...
"For the last three years GP's have had a pay rise of 0.0%. That's a pay cut of up to 10% in real terms....etc."

It's difficult to sympathise with them when they are averaging over £100,000 a year.

Anonymous said...

Vienna Woods said...
"Unless things have changed dramatically over the years since I was a Town and District Councillor, they do not receive any remuneration other than travel costs to official meetings and some other minor expenses against receipts."

Councillors in my London borough receive an allowance of £9.810 per annum plus expenses.

Broon's Talking Bawgie said...

GPs aren't even that smart. None of the ones I met at university struck me as particularly intellectual. Not compared to the economists, or the astrophysicists, to take examples from both the arts and sciences.

There are certainly some geniuses in the medical profession, but then that's true of, say, the oil business too. And the average oil company salary sure as hell isn't £100k, with nil risk of job loss for poor performance, a final salary pension, and all funded off the bountiful public tit.

GPs should make about £75k. Has any MD ever quit the medical profession because they couldn't live on the money??

Philip said...

Iain,

You couldn't be siding with the MPs because you may be on the brink of becomiong one yourself by any chance? :))

Adrian Yalland said...

Iain,

It's not just the salaries, it's the nice little housing allowance, pensions and extras on the side - all of which add considerably to the headline salary figure/

I was chatting with an MP who was elected in 97. He bought a house in London which in the last ten years has gone up by 200,000 - that's the equivalent to an extra £20 grand a year.

Then there is the pension - index linked and more gold plated than the Wimbledon trophies!

And then, should they lose their seat, they get a nice little 'parachute payment' of a year's salary!

Excluding office expenses, their package in well in excess of £100,000 a year.

And the trouble is that for many MPs, they are so hopeless - especially those who either never did anything substantive before coming into politics, or who were in public sector 'non jobs', they will never earn that again outside of politics - which means they become cravenly self interested in hanging on to their seats - regardless of the interests of the people they represent.

At least independently wealthy MPs who don't need the money can stick 2 fingers up to the party - Hestletine is an example!

The average MP may not have his nose completely in the snout, but a lot of them have a good old sniff - and never complain about the smell!

Adrian Yalland said...

and another thing - £100k a year for working in an environment where (a) you are accountable to no-one for a four year term, (b) you come and go as you please (c) you get God only knows how much holidays, (d) opportunities for all expenses paid committee junkets (e)opportunities to network extensively at the tax payer's expense, lining up nice little earners for when you leave (or in many cases whilst still in office), and (f) what pisses me off more than anything else - the rules and standards of behavior that apply to us (ranging from having to queue for a cup of coffee to screwing your secretary on Government property) never seem to apply to MPs, who very often suffer from a deluded sense of self importance! And that goes across the house to all parties!

Public servant - my arse they are! They are the masters, we are4 the servants, and we should know our place - pay up and shut up!

Yak40 said...

"GPs aren't even that smart. None of the ones I met at university struck me as particularly intellectual."

So only intellectuals are smart ? That's laughable (and wrong).

Honeyrose said...

Three things: firstly what makes most MPs think they would be capable of being a captain of industry? None of the current party leaders has any track record at all in this context, and as for the likes of Hazel Blears, Dawn Primarolo let alone lowlier colleagues, etc how would they fare in the private sector? (Nor incidentally is it true that most middle managers in industry earn more than MPs. Quangoistas may do but these are just another example of the bloated public sector under New Labour).

Secondly, an MP's annual salary is only the half of the story or maybe only the quarter of their total renumeration. What about the second home allowance, the office allowance, the travel allowance, the virtually unchecked travel and miscellaneous expenses?.

Finally, as for the claim that increasing their salaries would attract “professionals” to the job. All it seems to have done is attracted more professional politicians with little exposure to the real world.

It is not the salary that puts people off becoming MPs, it is the compromises they have to make, the lies they have to tell and the contempt in which they are held by most of the population. The claim that increased salaries are needed to attract a better class of MP is sheer sophistry.

realist said...

Unfortunately Iain, with only a few exceptions to the rule, your last two sentences sum up both Houses of Parliament. The problem for the nation is what can be done about it?

Anonymous said...

GP's don't average £100,000 a year. Out of this they have to fund their own pensions (no employer pension scheme), and also they have to fund locums for their own leave. This makes their take home pay considerably less than is reported.

The government is seeking to replace GP led primary care with paramedic/nurse led primary care on the grounds of cost.

This has proven to be very dangerous - countless deaths as a direct result already.

Furthermore it isn't even cost-efficient. As GP's are able to work more quickly (due to better training and experience) they provide a cheaper service.

We pay more for healthcare for hamsters (£60 a year) than we do for humans. Despite this GP's are able to provide a terrific service - NHS primary care is the envy of the world.

I think the government have really got this one wrong - they are about to pick a fight they will lose.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"GP's don't average £100,000 a year. Out of this they have to fund their own pensions (no employer pension scheme), and also they have to fund locums for their own leave. This makes their take home pay considerably less than is reported."

Average Net pay (i.e. after paying superannuation and expenses) last year was £110,000.

Byeck said...

Iain

Ref.the MP's £10,000 communication allowance (this is more than my annual pension by the way)

Does this have to be accounted for and any not spent returned or is it straight into the back pocket?

Peter Luff MP said...

Your anonymous commentator who asks if MPs would like a pay cut should be told that that's exactly what we've had every year for the last five years.

Yes, our pay has gone up by less than average eartnings AND by significantly less than inflation - this year our cash increase was 0.6%. We are £4,000 worse off then five years ago - and £6,000 worse off than someone who's seen his pay go up by the avearge. If you add in the sharp reduction in our mileage allownaces, our real terms pay is down even more sharply.

So God bless Iain Dale for telling the truth about MPs' pay.

I will be voting for the independent pay review body's recommendations on pay, whatever they are - and I don't know yet. That way I will be applying the same rules as I apply to police officers or nurses - if the government asks for independent advice, it should take it.

Norfolk Blogger said...

I agree with you 100% Iain. There are too many people who think that MP's should all be rich or retired people, and how a=on earth this make them relavent to society is never explained.

Well said indeed.

Anonymous said...

Do we want a house of oikish uneducated nulabour polytechnic educated morons who can barely speak without being told what do do by their text messaging or a well educated house of the right type. If you want a house that can answer the oafish pm back I'm sorry you have to pay good money. If you want monkeys pay nulab wages. If you want men of quality of the tory class you have to compete with the private sector. The man on the street does not understand this. And must be told why this is so.

Jim Carr said...

MPs should not be paid at all.
Let them do it for the reward of public service.
And Iain Dale is just another trough-snouter-in-waiting.

Kris said...

While we grown to expect this nonsense from you Verity, the suggestion that the police or prison officers should be "privatised" has to be about the most widly ignorant idea I've ever heard

William Gruff said...

Would Peter Luff care to itemise his expense claims after whining about his 'pay cut', purely to satisfy the idle curiosity of those who must meet them?

I ask as a tax payer, rather than a constituent, so perhaps he can cite some parliamentary protocol that prevents him from enlightening us.

Anonymous said...

Peter Luff MP said...
"We are £4,000 worse off then five years ago ..."
"If you add in the sharp reduction in our mileage allownaces, our real terms pay is down even more sharply."


William Gruff said...
"Would Peter Luff care to itemise his expense claims after whining about his 'pay cut'"

Between 2001/2 and 2006/7 Peter Luff's annual expenses increased by £45,405 (£88,666 in 2001/2, £134,071 in 2006/7).

Eu referendum fan said...

What is it you [MP's] do, ladies and gentlemen that would justify yet another pay rise? Do you legislate? Well, not in the eighty percent of the legislation that comes, one way or another from the European Union and is passed on the nod because you do not have the right to reject or amend it. Let's face it, you do not even bother to read most of it. There is a lot of material there, I agree, but it is you and your equally greedy predecessors, who made sure of this state of affairs.

Let us not forget, ladies and gentlemen, Members of the House of Commons, that a good deal of that legislation does not even pass through Parliament. It arrives in the shape of EU Regulations, which are directly applicable and are put into place by Statutory Instruments, which you know nothing about, or regulations created by quangos such as the Food Standards Agency.

What of the remaining twenty per cent of the legislation? Do you live up to the expectations of the people, whom you are supposed to represent? Do you read the legislative proposals or Green Papers or Bills? Do you realize how badly drafted many of the last are? It would appear not, as those badly drafted Bills wing their way through the House of Commons and it is only when the (unpaid) Members of the House of Lords start scrutinizing them, line by line, clause by clause (something you ought to do, ladies and gentlemen, Members of the House of Commons) that the full shoddiness or horror becomes clear.

It is not unknown for the Government to have to rush scores, even hundreds of amendments at a late stage, say Report, in the House of Lords, having not realized before what a mess the particular piece of legislation was. It is many years since the House of Commons has made any effort to scrutinize legislation with any attention. GPs who carried out their duties the way you do, ladies and gentlemen, would be struck of the Register of Medical Practitioners.

Dr. Helen Szamuely