Friday, October 19, 2007

The Myth of MPs' Holidays

There's been lots in the papers today about how MPs "have awarded themselves an extra ten days holiday" next year. Apparently there isn't enough legislation for them to pass. Well, yippedy do! I'd have thought that would have been a relief for most people. Unfortunately, the reason is more to do with the amount of legislation now emanating from Brussels than anything else. However, this also gives our MPs an opportunity. Why not increase the amount of time spent debating the great issues of the day? Parliament is not there just to legislate. We could allocate days of debate to the most popular Early Day Motions, for example, or say that the most popular Number Ten Petition ever month would get a debate. At least that would mean there was some point to them.

But perhaps we can destroy the tabloid myth that MPs get three months holiday. They don't. Most MPs I know - from all parties - take very little holiday. The majority actually work their constituencies when they are not in Parliament. And perhaps they ought to shout about that a little more!

Norfolk Blogger has more HERE.


Anonymous said...

It's worth pointing out that Government, not MPs generally, sets the business of the House and determines how long the House shall sit.

The Govt's business managers were expecting a Gen Election, so pencilled in as little as possible until the State Opening - hence the extra week's holiday.


Nich Starling said...

I blogged on this earlier today (beat you to it for once Iain). It's the same with allowances too. the press never tell the real truth.

antifrank said...

So what? There are far too many MPs with not enough to do. Halve the number of MPs, double their salary, and we might have some sufficiently independent MPs of a sufficient calibre that doesn't disgrace the nation.

Alternatively, we can continue with the ovine hacks we have at present.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

The default option in the press is that MPs are all lying gits who are lining their own pockets. Not true.

First, in the recent survey I indicated that MPs do not earn enough. Their salaries do not reflect the possibility of their instant demise every four years or the sacrifices made to other careers.

Second, you get lots of stories about how a local MP helped a constituent in need and made a difference to their locality.

Third, you get people who will never be in government but who liven debate with their individuality and humour.

The problem is power. Many cannot handle power and it quite clearly goes to their heads. In order to get that power they must first fulfil that appoinment at the crossroads, with the Devil.

So, all of the government and all the shadows have, to some extent, sold their souls. Not in a big way but in the many times they have to bite their tongues and get on with it. But the damage is done and they become the sum total of all those little decisions so that by the time they achieve power they are hotwired to the party line, the heart bypass is complete, and the senseofhumour organ has been lanced.

MPs don't look or act or speak like ordinary people. They apparently cannot funtion without a suit and tie and do not connect with modern culture. They advocate state-schooling, but send their children to the private sector, ditto hospitals. They cannot control their trouser area.

I think that every four years, every single MP should take a forced, one year sabbatical, in the real world, doing a proper job.

Scipio said...

You were tellling MPs off the over day for getting an extra £10k to 'shout about it'!

An MP's life is not as glam as it sounds - but they don't get bad perks though!

However, with all this extra time, why don;t they use it to repeal some of the copious amounts of laws passed since 1997!

Iain Dale said...

MPs should not get £10k to shout about what they do Adrian.

Craig Ranapia said...

First, in the recent survey I indicated that MPs do not earn enough. Their salaries do not reflect the possibility of their instant demise every four years or the sacrifices made to other careers.

Mr. Weasel: There are any number of arguments around MPs pay and allowances, but that's really the worse one around. I'd respectfully suggest there are far too many working people (even relatively affluent white collar professionals) who have no expectation of sitting at the same desk until they're shoved out the door at 65.

I'll also express my severe doubt that any MP is forced to enter Parliament with a shotgun at the small of their backs. Again, there are many people who change careers - and accept a drop in income - for all kinds of reasons. They make their choices, and accept the consequences - at least, I thought that's what the Tories used to be about.

Anonymous said...

Reading Nadine Dorries' blog has certainly opened my eyes to the incredible work load MPs have.Our county town has a Labour MP whom we rarely see or hear. Nadine is one of our rural MPs and is always getting involved in local issues and putting her head above the parapet and seems to have very little 'time out'.

AD627 said...

“you get lots of stories about how a local MP helped a constituent in need and made a difference to their locality.”

Well, yes. But these stories almost always involve the MP helping a constituent who is being poorly treated by some organ of the state, until the MP pitches in and pulls rank. This isn’t an argument in favour of MPs – after all, this kind of thing merely ensures that the vocal, pushy middle classes are more likely to receive decent treatment than those less fortunate, who may be more stoic and less politically involved.

MPs as a group shouldn’t get credit for this kind of thing – it is the same wretched legislators that have presided over the creeping expansion of the state, which has resulted in so many opportunities for the state to bear down oppressively on the populace.

Nich Starling said...

I agree with you about the 10k. It is an incumbancy campaigning bonus and should NOT be allowed. However, if I were an MP and Mr Ashcroft were giving the Tories 10k in my seat, I would be tempted to use it.

Anonymous said...

The problem with your defence of politicians is that while the MP's constituency demands increase so do the National demands on them.

The general perception is that the country is going to the dogs so until they change that they are going to get criticism and quite frankly if they can't fix it then why should they expect anything different?

Furthermore the general perception is that our elected representatives have failed to safeguard our democratic system choosing instead an expedient route of self interest.

I see the issues as:

1) Approximately 20% increase in UK population in the past 30 years resulting in the under-representation of 85% of the population (thanks to the 1998 Devolution Act).

2) The increasing authority of the EU which confuses the issue of what our representatives are there for.

3) The loading of the democratic dice by the Labour Government that has broken our democracy.

4) The politicisation of public services

5) The introduction of PR which has resulted in an increasing number of 'elected' representatives being able to avoid accountability (e.g. Why do we have MEP's)

6) The resultant increasing dissolussionment of the British Public with our politicians and political system.

We need more democracy (local & national) and more elected representatives.

To start with we need partial withdrawal from the EU, national parliaments for ALL four Home Nations and a written constitution that sets out not only our rights but also a clear role definitions, responsibilities and accountabilities for our various categories of elected representatives (mmm... performance targets for politicians - now there's an novel concept).PR should be scrapped in all British elections.

We also need an independent 'non political body' acting on behalf of the benign neutral head of state to manage and safeguard the constitution and administer the terms and conditions of elected representatives because MP's cannot be trusted to do it themselves without the question of self interest being raised.

Only then perhaps will MP's be able to justify changes in their terms and conditions.

So in conclusion Iain I disagree. MP's are the first to address issues in a self-serving manner that affect themselves but never address the serious defects in our democracy.

Whilst they continue to fail to address the other democratic issues that subjugate the British people they deserve all the stick they get!

They should just be thankful this is Britain and not somewhere like Pakistan otherwise it might not just be a bad press they risk!

Anonymous said...

It's the lazy political journalists who are getting the extra holiday - and also getting to attack the motives and work ethic of politicians at the same time. They must be wetting themselves with joy.

Worst of all, this tired line was adopted by the Beeb too. Why on Earth do we pay the astronomical licence fee just for their journalists to toe the same line as every other hack.

Anonymous said...

Mps keep their high salaries if they get voted out, until they find another job. If I 'get the sack' all I'd get is jobseeker's allowance.....

The Nazis picked on the sick & disabled. Now the main two Nazi parties are doing the same to the most vulnerable in our society, just to save money so they can squander more of it. David Fraud a rich city banker has come up with the latest method of getting people off sickness benefits - he has NO medical credentials whatsoever - it's blatantly a money saving scam by a dishonest and corrupt government.

We need people working 9-5 for the average wage, not greedy pigs with; the best pension deal going, high salaries, chauffeured cars, second homes to keep, appalling expenses, 'above the law' corruption yet nothing done against the criminals who pay their own family and con money out of the public purse - what we know about is the tip of the iceberg.