Wednesday, August 19, 2009

How Much Should MPs Be Paid?

The Evening Standard has an editorial today which proposes hiking MPs' pay. This follows the suggestion by Sir Patrick Cormack that MPs' pay should be doubled, but at the same time they should lose their expenses.

I can't imagine there are many people who would support MPs' pay being hiked like that, and nor would I. It is politically impossible let alone undesirable. How, in these times, could such a move be justified to people who are losing their own jobs, never mind not getting pay rises. But until the job of setting MPs' remuneration is properly ceded to an independent body, the issue will continue to emerge every so often and inevitably result in bad headlines.

So, how much do you think an MP should be paid?

Click HERE to take part in a single question poll.

56 comments:

digger said...

a lot less than they are currently being paid and before anyone bangs on about them being broke or how their rich meeja mates wouldn't do it for less than a ton,I would merely point out that they could have paid an idiot 30k and let him happily wreck the economy.whilst the economy would still be in a hole,they would have saved the taxpayer a lot of cash

Thomas said...

MPs' pay should have been increased years ago to cover expenses. Those MPs who used their salary to provide an effective office would be re-elected;those who tried to line their own pockets would have very short parliamentary careers.

An independent panel should recommend to increase MP salaries to the G8 average now, and then decide on all future wage increases/reductions.

Gallimaufry said...

As party of their election documentation every MP should produce a tender with their proposed salary, office admin and London expenses broken down. The grand total will be printed next to their name on the ballot slip. Voters can then decide whether a candidate is good value.

Roland Deschain said...

Iain, when you say "until the job of setting MPs' remuneration is properly ceded to an independent body" do you mean in an advisory or a binding capacity?

Because if MPs can't make that final decision for themselves, and be prepared to justify it to the public, they have no business making the decisions necessary in running the country.

Magic Bath said...

I support MPs being paid more. I say give them about £130,000 a year for what they do.

Too many people think MPs don't actually do anything, when they couldn't be more wrong. For the hours in a day many MPs put in I'd say they're earning far less than they should be right now. Throw into the mix the fact they have to effectively reapply for their jobs each election, and have to deal with a permanently hostile media, they should certainly be on more than they get now.

Danvers said...

When you say "the average wage - £26,000" (in your poll) you're falling for a huge fallacy, given it includes part time workers, not to mention young workers at the start of their career.

Have blogged this: http://danversbaillieu.blogspot.com/2009/06/what-is-relevance-of-average-wage.html

The Grim Reaper said...

Around 23½p an hour, rising to 28¼p per hour at weekends.

On a more serious note, I really don't know. Around £100k per year sounds good to me, but only if we have a cut in the number of MPs in the first place.

Carl Menson said...

It should depend on what party they represent. Conservative MPs do the best job of defending our nation and what is left of our sovereignty, ergo they should be paid a lot more. Labour MPs, on the other hand, should be paid less.

strapworld said...

Roland Deschain, where have you been? They have proved that they cannot be trusted.

Still, Esther Ranzen is going to change everything. Jobsworth Caps will be issued weekly, Cyril Fletcher monologues will be given from the Speaker's chair -(The speaker will be Terry Waite)- and we shall have consumer interest debates weekly. The Commons will open daily to a new signature tune played by Richard Stilgoe and Peter Skellern. And close of business will be met by Land of Hope and Glory.

The new dance zsar will lead a conga from the Commons to the Lords and back, Politicians leading the Country in dancing. Bruce Forsyth will be IN Charge for these nightly festivities.

And they will do all this on a salary of £15.000 - no expenses. Accomodation provided underneath the arches!

Lets face it. There is no need for them now. We have been sold to the EU and thus this parliament is just a waste of time and money.

Obsidian said...

How about basing it on qualifications and experience?

It's how it works in the real world.

Hamish said...

Parliamentary democracy is now thankfully on its last legs.
It has been obsolete since at least the start of this millenium.

Needless to say MPs will fight tooth and nail to pretend they have essential skills.

The reality is that most of us can do their job as well as most of them can. There are exceptions both ways.

I don't pretend I could do the job of a nurse, or a bus driver, or a plumber, or an electrician, or an accountant.

But I and most people could do the job of an MP..
MPs need to face the harsh truth that tney are redundant.

Osama the Nazarene said...

I would agree to increasing MP's pay if their number was reduced by 200. Good old fashioned efficiency payments.

Anonymous said...

I can't help feeling that it's a subject that you should steer well clear of, not because there's not a sensible reasoned argument to be had but because the people who appear to want MPs to live on as low a wage as possible (and preferably in penury) are drawn to it like moths to a flame.

There seems to be a confusion between a person not wanting professional politicans (really, when has that ever not been the case) and, in the same breath arguing that a salary which would mean that a well educated professional who has worked in other fields would not take an immediate, and significant, income reduction through becoming an MP should not be paid.

The Telegraph has a great deal to answer for, not in what it said, but in the way that it said it.

Donut Hinge Party said...

The market charges what the market will bear.

Personally, I'd say it should vary; the average wage of their constituency, use of a constituency house and a london house, plus office expenses.

They could supplement their income with ministerial duties.

Anonymous said...

Being an MP ought to be about public service. If you're in the job for personal enrichment, you're not the kind of MP we need (and I'm looking at you, Meesters Mandelson and Bliar).

So, let it be the average wage in London plus appropriate housing and travel expenses. Paid administrative and secretarial staff should be provided from a central pool at the Commons - this to stop chancers hiring their wives, husbands, sons, daughters or pet labradors and paying them £500 million per day.

If you look at that level of payment and think that you deserve more, you'd probably fit in quite well with the current crop of parliamentarians.

Plenty said...

Have them at flat rate of say £100,000. No expenses. Harsh?

Gareth said...

"But until the job of setting MPs' remuneration is properly ceded to an independent body, the issue will continue to emerge every so often and inevitably result in bad headlines."

I disagree utterly. MPs are the only ones we can hold to account. They have shovelled a great deal of the authority we vest in them to outside bodies, quangos and international groups to the point where they can pretend there is little responsibility for them left. It is still actually all in their hands. We should not let them escape from their duties to us.

Let each MP barter with their constituency - Set a basic administration cost that is index linked to pay for the support staff and offices, and at election time each candidate can say how much they would be prepared to do the job for.

Alternatively a block grant based on say, distance from Westminster, and allow the MPs to spend it on staff, rent, travel and their own wages as they wish. That would require them to be careful with our money at a local level. If they cannot manage even that they have no business managing anything else.

But the setting of the price must be between us and them.

Charles said...

I feel the common calls for MPs to be paid the equivalent to their civil service colleagues, are quite right. MPs certainly do need to be paid more, and unlike Guido I believe that yes MPs should do the job for the love of public service, but their should be financial incentives to ensure that top quality candidates are not snared by other professions. It was certainly interesting reading William Rees-Mogg's article in The Times the other day about the rate of pay for 19th century ministers. On the point about expenses though, I feel reform is necessary but caution must also be thrown to the wind. From personal experience the majority of staff for MPs are young, non-family members who work incredibly hard and are severely underpaid. Talk about a love of public service, the things some researchers go far beyond the call of duty. Therefore to cut done on staff and constituency allowances in light of a few cases of exploitation for family members is a dangerous thing. Perhaps rising the rate of pay for staff, and then centrally contract them directly to Westminster instead of making provisions for them in the allowances.

Don't Call Me Dave said...

If an MP’s salary was cut to, say, £30,000 a year, would there be a reduction in the number of candidates standing for election? No. So on the basis of supply and demand, the salary should be reduced until there is an equilibrium.

It is not as if MPs run the country, so why do we have to pay them as if they do?

Paul Evans said...

MP’s salary is currently somewhere between that of a Major and a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army. I think that’s fair.

Salmondnet said...

Mo more than one and a half times the average adult wage (though they should get genuine expenses and be allowed outside earnings).

That way (1) If they want greater prosperity for themselves they have to provide it for the rest of us (2) If they have other things to do they will be less inclined to see themselves as production workers in a legislation factory and (3) Anyone on a low income will not lose by becoming an MP, but will have no great economic interest in becoming one either. Only those with a vocation need apply.

There will be no shortage of applicants.

DiscoveredJoys said...

I've never seen any recent debate about what we pay MPs for.

Paying people £64k to run the country is clearly not enough - but we don't pay MPs to run the country! We pay MPs to represent their constituents.

The Civil Service 'run' the country on a daily basis, under the oversight of Ministers. Ministers (who are usually MPs) get paid more than £64k.

Should the existing MPs feel that they are not getting enough money - let them resign. There are plenty of people willing to do the job for that money.

Donut Hinge Party said...

The problems with comparing it to the private sector are many fold.

1. There is no role profile - I suppose there is the interview process for selection, but what would you do for independent MPs?

2. There is no line management to monitor progress.

3. There is no opportunity for discipline or sacking outside of the election.

4. There is, conversely, no salary increase outwith of inflation

In addition to my previous point, I'd provide a bonus based on their majority. If they want a pay increase in the next five years then they need to work on increasing it, and holding their senior colleagues to task for party failures.

The only sticking point is that f&f would be parachuted into 'safe' seats, but then I suppose that's what happens now.

Ruth@VS said...

I must say I am surprised at the number of people who think MPs should be paid more. For most of those newly elected, £65k is a very good salary, and for some of them a lot more than they could earn in the private sector.

MPs are in the top 10% of earners I think, and certainly earn a lot more than the vast majority of those who elect them. And while some do work a lot of hours during "term time", the amount of time they have away from parliament more than compensates. Many people work a lot more hours for a lot less money.

andrewha said...

Slightly unfair poll - I wanted an option for £250,000 (seriously).

Thatsnews said...

I think they should receive a salary about equal to a senior civil servant.

But there must be something done about accommodation for MPs in London. The idea of a block of dedicated flats would be a good one. Until someone decides to suicide bomb them, or launch multiple rocket attacks on it.

Donut Hinge Party said...

"I feel the common calls for MPs to be paid the equivalent to their civil service colleagues, are quite right."

Hmm, so they want to be paid the civil service rate.
No pertinent qualifications
No role requirement for previous work experience
No requirement for a graduate, that's probably about 18K at entry level?

Ray said...

It would be the thin edge of the wedge to give them a huge salary and NO expenses, within days the expenses would creep back with varying degrees of logic and quicky votes when we are not looking. Give them a good wage commensurate with the job, and then properly regulated expenses as most businesses do with their mobile staff. The stealing or fraudulent maintenance of which would be the responsibility of the member, punishable by instant dismissal for gross misconduct as the rest of the world has to risk.

David from Ealing said...

I think if someone is a full-time MP, with no other job, they are probably worth more than they are currently being paid. A figure of £80K seems reasonable to me. If an MP does his/her job properly, the hours are long and the responsibility considerable. The difficulty comes with the expenses.

Anonymous said...

I've got no problem with MP's salaries rising by 100%. None whatsoever.

But, in the true spirit of the current economic travails, two thirds of them need to lose their posts. With statutory minimum redundancy.

The costs of 'democracy' need to be slashed. 'More' politicians does NOT mean more democracy. In fact the complete opposite.

Also, it just might mean that one or two of the stragglers pull their socks up and actually DO something useful. Well, may be not.

Oh, and whilst I'm on, the MP's defined benefit pension scheme goes with it. Stakeholder only.

Charles said...

In response to Ruth@VS, in fact 55% of Conservative PPCs are looking at seeing their income dropped if they endter Parliament

Anonymous said...

One amusing aside from the BBC's website on the issue, it's somehow got into their heads that the Tories have already swept to power:


But the opposition has seized on the latest comments by Sir Patrick and Mr Hogg, claiming the party is "out of touch".

Chancellor Alistair Darling, who is standing in for Gordon Brown while the prime minister is on holiday, told BBC News: "At a time when everybody else is pulling in their belts, at a time when people are worried about their jobs and some people are going part-time, MPs can not be treated any differently from anyone else.

Anonymous said...

There is an argument to support MPs being paid at the level of the head of a Citizens Advice Bureau - that, traditionally, is what the bulk of their work involves. Add on another, say, 30% for their role in scrutinising Government and legislation and that should be it. The party politicking bit and voting at the Whips' behest is worth little.

Pete Wass said...

The pay should stay as it is, with all of the expenses except office costs (including staff) scrapped.

They should be provided with a rail season ticket to their constituency and an oyster card doctored to provide them with transport in london.

Legitimate expenses should be reimbursable, but subject to approval by a committee. All such expenses should be publicly reported, and no money should transfer until publication has occured. Also, to prevent MPs who lose their seat from submitting a raft of claims when they no longer have to face the electorate, no claims submitted after dissolution should be paid.

A parliamentary hostel should be set up. If the MP chooses not to use it then that is up to them, but they should bare the cost of their alternative arrangements.

Most importantly however, any changes to pay and conditions should be decided by MPs themselves, and details of how they vote should be public.

Nick said...

It should be a multiple of the national average wage - perhaps 1.5x or 2.0x - with an allowance system which is completely transparent and factors in the distance betee the constituency and Parliament - and should be ZERO for those inside the M25 - and a further donwards adjustment should be made for those undertaking other jobs OR taking other jobs should be banned. I would also be in favour of there being some kind of quals needed before you can stand as an MP - some experience of a real-world job for example.

Obsidian said...

Iain, another good question might be "should MPs become Ministers for a brief if they don't have qualifications or experience in said brief?"

After all, you don't rely on your postie to make any major decisions regarding your health, education or the UK's constitutional affairs.

So why should Alan Johnson, or indeed any other minister who has never shown a competency in their brief prior to being given it?

norman said...

Paying a 22 or 25 year old £130,000 if we accept this MP's suggestion is plain ridiculous.

I suggest that the total number of MPs should be 400 and not more than that. There has to be some qualification, I mean not from the educational sense, but from the real world experience sense. Candidates who stand to parliament should have experience in the real world paid or voluntary. I would also restrict a couple ( straight/ gay married or otherwise) both standing for eletion to HOC.

Optimistic Cynic said...

What they are now. Give them the option to quit parliament whenever they don't like it to call a by-election.

Bet there won't be many...

Sean Haffey said...

No matter what salary is set, expenses will have to be separate. A London MP, for example, will face trivial commuting expenses and can probably live at home. An MP from Scarborough would need to be recompensed for considerable travel and accommodation expense.

Despite the system letting through some prize idiots like Kevan Jones, most MPs have had to work pretty hard to get elected. It's a lot easier to take pot shots at them than do the job.

johnse18 said...

100K a year no expenses sounds OK. But this is on the assumption that they pass all our legislation, which is not the case. They only do a quarter since 75% of our legislation comes from Brussels.

So for now they should get 25K, increasing to 100K as they repatriate legislative powers from Brussels to Westminster.

Anonymous said...

They should be paid their current salary plus legitimate expenses.

Not their current salary plus as much as they can steal.

Mike Law said...

What they get now - frozen for the next four years - and office expenses to be paid for centrally.

All equipment and stationery to be purchased from one source.

No extras for food or furnishings or any of the other "fluff" that was purchased in the past.

Jonathan Cook said...

These people are supposed to be running the country aren't they?

£130K is fine.

Having said that, I would like to see the mother of all clean outs amongst our MP's.

When you hear some of them speak in the House of Commons, they can barely string a sentence together.

Others are such spineless toadies, they aren't worth a penny.

If we had a parliament of hard working, intelligent and free thinking MP's - then they'd be worth £130K easily.

Maybe the question is not one of salary, but more the regarding calibre of person representing us?

jonnyargles said...

"In response to Ruth@VS, in fact 55% of Conservative PPCs are looking at seeing their income dropped if they enter Parliament"

So who's forcing them to? If they want to make a difference, why not just carry on in their careers and just make financial contributions to their favourite parties? We're not talking about front bench MPs here, but root and branch backbenchers.

You don't hear people talking of raising a teacher's salary just so that solicitors and doctors don't have to take a pay cut. Mind you, they do get a similar amount of holiday

calais said...

MP's fortunes need to be tied more closely to those of the electorate.

Average wage + 100%contributory pension.

Unlimited (uk only) photo travel card.

support* staffing by volunteers and/or civil servants.

*all financial support published.


If they can't live within that, and they still want political involvement, then do it voluntarily like everybody else.

jailhouselawyer said...

How much should MPs be paid?

What they are worth of course.

That is, peanuts!

Uncle Bob said...

£80,000. End the second homes allowance. End the £400 a month food allowance. Do not pay for an MP's full sky subscription (I'm speaking about you Gordon!).

The only additional expenses allowed would be staff costs and the cost of renting a constituency office.

Also, number of MP's cut to circa 500. There are far too many in parliament now.

trevorsden said...

Hamish - we elect and presumably pay MPs for their judgement. Part of that is based on who they elect as their leader. If they make a bad choice they risk losing their seat. So some bad judgement can be weeded out by Darwinian natural selection.

We should worry less about MPs pay and more about how MPs are selected. As (IIRC) Mr Dale has said it can be a full time job just to get selected never mind elected and wages need to consider this.

A good selection process would give us MPs with good judgement and worth a decent salary.

Nick said...

1. Their pension contributions should be abolished.

2. Neopotism should be abolished.

3. Fraud, past and future should be abolished.

4. Their pay should be linked to the level of debt in the government.

5. Their tax perks should be made available to all.

6. Their numbers should be halved or proportional to the amount of legislation coming out of Brussels. For every 1% of legislation coming from Brussels, 6.5 should lose their jobs.

7. In the same way, for each 1% of legistlation comes from Brussels, they lose 1% of their income.

The reason is clear. If someone else is legistlating they get paid less.

8. Lets say the pay is 60K a year. We multiply that by the number of votes they are bothered to turn up to as a percentage of the total. That's what they get paid. No votes, no pay.

Nick

Man in the Street said...

The next to minimum, I suggest sensible expenses only.

It should be a privilege to represent so many others.

Not an excuse to jump on the Westminster gravy train, become an arrogant bastard overnight and shit on all and sundry pretty much the day after.

Quietzapple said...

Not sure.

Might depend on what proportion of their time they devote to politics, and what to their "interests."

Subject to the interests of security something of that sort seems appropriate.

£90,000 for the usual 60 hr week?

That's about £32/hr, about 2/3 of the max I have ever earned for a few hours (piece for the Guardinid a while back)

I do think that a second home, even for the scunner Pickles at Brentwood is a sine qua non, but the second home should be paid as per a small flat/house. Some London MPs have no excuse for claiming as much as those who live well outside London, so I don't support all of them getting the same and no expenses.

Office expenses should be economical, and rely on some bulk ordering. There are economies of scale to be had.

A move of Parliament outside London should be a long term goal. Politics is too London centric.

Lord Lavendon said...

The issue is , do you want MP's on a very basic package as they are now and as little as possible or for them to have large increases in salary with no outside earnings ?

If you want basic and little as possible you have to agree that MP's should be able to earn from outside interests.

If you want large pay and no outside earnings then you are basically agreeing to create professional politicians. That is people who have zero experience of life outside of politics. Yet these MPs would still be making laws for all of us.

This would be bad and I still think that MP's should be allowed to earn more that their Parliamentary salaries- if only to keep as many of them in the real world.

Hamish said...

Extraordinary how quickly the MPs (and the bankers) have gone from professed humility back to their old tricks.

More extraordinary, and very depressing, how quickly the blog commenters have gone from trenchant criticism to sycophantic sympathy.

MPs are redundant.
Like print compositors before them,
and financial advisors now.
Get over it.

Lady Finchley said...

Charles, I couldn't agree with you more but you should include caseworkers and the not so young too! However, I am afraid that the MPs' staff will always be undervalued - by both the public and MPs themselves. The 'guidelines' for staff salaries are a joke - it is all voluntary on the MPs' part and the budget is just not big enough which means the staff are chronically underpaid and overworked. Yes, we chose to undertake this work and we perform a valuable public service but we deserve to be able to pay our bills and work unexploited. However, nobody is really interested in the people who grease the wheels - either by providing valuable research or solving the problems of constituents. The old caricature of 'bag carriers' is way too prevalent in the minds of the public. This is a great shame as Parliament stands to lose hardworking staff as well as good MPs (such as Paul Goodman) who have had enough of being reviled while doing a good job.

Donut Hinge Party said...

"If you want large pay and no outside earnings then you are basically agreeing to create professional politicians."

MPs: not Policy Ministers (who already get a hefty boost to their salary).

Your average back bench MP has no more command over shaping what happens to the country than a local newspaper. They're there to take the concerns of their constituents and to vote on policies. By dint of the latter, we all decide the running of the country by electing our representatives - should we all get financial renumeration for that responsibility - a voters' allowance?

Grant said...

Hello everybody. Well it seems this debate is hotting up. I believe that MP's should be paid a reduced basic pay closer to the national average but then get paid small bonuses for achieving goals. For example if they reduce crime in there area, increase employment, reduce expenses, etc, etc. This would not only save the country some much needed money but would also encourage our MP's to actually do the work they are meant to be doing.