Sunday, February 15, 2009

Do MPs Not Understand How They Are Viewed by the Public?

I do my best to defend the profession of parliamentary politicians, but sometimes it's not easy. Today is one of those days. The Sunday Times reports that a committee of MPs, led by Harriet Harman and The Speaker have overruled the Senior Salaries Review Board and insisted that MPs who lose their seats should be entitled to compensation of a "golden parachute payment" of a year's salary, if they have served for long enough - as an example, an MP who is 50 and served for 17 years would be entitled to a full year's pay, the first £30,000 of which would be tax free! It's been described by critics as a "reward for failure". The SSRB said it should only apply to MPs who are defeated at the ballot box, but the committee has overturned this and it will also, incredibly, apply to MPs who voluntarily retire.

I full accept that there should be a "redundancy" payment of some sort for MPs who lose their seats, but I suggest that a lump sum of six months would be more than enough. It's more than most people would get in other walks of life.

I just cannot understand the mentality of the MPs on this committee who seem to believe that the public will stomach this endless troughing at public expense.In these economic times, if they expect the rest of us to wear hairshirts, the least they could do is do the same themselves.


Mirtha Tidville said...


Harperson and Gorbals Mick are involved...what else did you expect from this pair of charmless nurks????

To be slightly serious, its the socialists feathering their own nest as they expect the take up rate to be rather high after the next election..

Hacked Off said...

Piano Wire sales will rocket.

The Penguin.

JoeF said...

Turkeys and Christmas comes to mind of course- especially as quite alot of Labour MPs are probably thinking they might well be "redundant" in a year and a bit...

MPs will not be too happy to have their pensions "looked at" either

John M Ward said...

Yes, "Mirtha Tidville" has sussed it out, and we have seen other moves during the past year or so that have been designed to benefit Labour MPs who are likely to lose their seats in droves at the next election.

As always it's self-serving, and as usual it's Labour behind it. Nothing surprising there, then.

It certainly should be splashed around, though, including those two names — Harman and Martin — as the architects of this latest snouts-in-it proposal.

Steve H said...

What confuses me about this is that surely every MP is "employed" by his constituents on a fixed-term contract which he or she knows before applying for the job will last no longer than five years. After which the constituents will put the job out to tender again.

Many posts in the public service (don't all hiss at once, sweethearts) are being changed to fixed term contracts or even being farmed out to consultants to reduce long term costs (though of course at a vastly inflated short term costs). Why should MPs be any different?

Philipa said...

Sorry I don't think they should get anything, they already get far too much. Whilst I'm sure you would argue reasonable expenses the fact that so many clearly abuse the system makes the whole thing stink like year old cheese. said...

Stop defending them and you will not be disappointed so often. Great Post though. I feel you though. We want to believe the system is good.

strapworld said...

Then Cameron should three line whip his MP's to vote against this. IF, as I suspect, there will be no vote then Cameron MUST say he will not , as Prime Minister, authorise such payments. Hopefully Nick Clegg will do the same with his colleagues and when they are the official opposition the bill rescinding this outrageous decision
will ensure public money is not wasted.

This is just, as others have said, Labour feathering their own nest.

Anonymous said...

Why do they need any compensation for losing a seat? Next there'll be an argument for councillors to compensate in the same way.

I get sick and tired of this notion of "professional" politicians; what, exactly, are they doing that requires them to be professionals - and what "professional" qualifications do they require. Surely, anyone who is fortunate enough to be selected by a political party to represent them should have signed up to the policies of that party and be capable of promoting those policies in the chamber they may be elected to. They should also have the wherewithal to be able to responsibly represent the constituents of the area they have been elected to represent.

Sadly, what you get (especially in the Labour Party) are those who are adept at self promotion (and in a lot of cases, who are good at putting down their rivals - by any means necessary). And THIS is the calibre of so called professional politicians.

Maybe there should be a maximum limit of a two-term tenure for any politician, thereby letting some other bugger have a go (they could stand again for another term or two after they've had at least one term out of office). And, under no circumstances should they get any compensation for no longer being in political office.

Steve H said...

So then every Prime Minister and member of the cabinet would have a maximum experience of one term in Parliament before taking office. I'm all for a new broom but look what we got in 1997 when none of the incoming ministers had any ministerial experience.

By this argument, whenever there was a change of government, there would be no-one of any ministerial experience in the incoming government. Then the civil service really would run the country.

To quote from the West Wing: we already have term limits in this country, they're called elections.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

You don't have to wear hair shirts folks, Iain was exaggerating.

I was in Jermyn Street last week and everyone has a sale on. You can get a nice shirt (readymade, I admit)from Hawes & Curtis, for £25.

This article in all seriousness misses the point that severance pay, the sort they are talking about, would be quite reasonable if it were not for the fact that MPs spend their careers, however brief, stuffing us for every bit of money they can get out of the job.

Many people are entitled to this sort of severance package, including "death in service" benefits that equal a year's salary. Anybody who has worked in the same place for 17 years is entitled to redundacy money, and I cannot see how 17 years as a politician counts as a "failure".

Yes they are all money grabbing bastards, but that's not the point.

Steve H said...

Sorry, the above was in reference to Mike Law's:

***Maybe there should be a maximum limit of a two-term tenure for any politician***

The Remittance Man said...

The buggers seem to spend their entire careers making their own golden parachutes, so why should they get anything?

Assuming (and yes you can all laugh out loud here) the Commons cleans up the perks system, why should MPs get any more redundancy pay than what they mandate for the rest of the public? What is it at the moment? One week's basic pay for ever year of service? That sounds good enough to me.

Raedwald said...

Don't worry, folks; the rules won't come into effect until the election after next - 2015 or so - so Cameron will have plenty of time to reverse this nonsense and go back to the current six month's severance pay.

He will reverse it, won't he?

jon dee said...

It just isn't sinking in is it?

It sickens us to see our Chancellor and Home Secretary fiddling their expenses and now we see Harman leading the way with another scam to pocket taxpayers money.

Mr Cameron and colleagues, put your heads above the parapet and protest about this corruption.

You will find many voters supporting your courage if you do so.

The Remittance Man said...

BTW As a proper professional (studied hard, gained relevant experience and then passed the critical judgement of my peers) I agree whole heartedly with Mike. Politicians are not professionals. Nor should they be.

Faceless Bureaucrat said...

@ Wrinkled Weasel

"I was in Jermyn Street last week and everyone has a sale on. You can get a nice shirt (readymade, I admit)from Hawes & Curtis, for £25."

Ah, a Weasel after my own heart. H&C are probably the best value-for-money readymade shirts in the UK, but they have always offered their shirts at £27.50 each or 4 for £100.

Still great value though...

Man in a Shed said...


Lets be clear we are in the main talking about a series of Labour MPs who will be looking for employment opportunities by the end of 2010.

My guess is the MPs know what the public think and feel - the Labour ones just would rather have a cheque than public sympathy.

The answer here is for David Cameron to state he will repeal any such payment as his first act in office, and to make that announcement as part of the election campaign.

Erskine May said...

There is a case for getting rid of many of the allowances MPs claim, converting them into a single salary and relying on the pension, with no 'golden parachutes'. Length of service should be taken into account in terms of salary. At present, each MP receives the same salary, regardless of how many years they have served.

As an aside, despite the criticism that some people throw at the House of Lords, it is worth noting that peers do not get a salary, the allowances are not that generous (and not as generous as frequently claimed in the media), and there is no reward of any sort for years of service. Some peers have attended and contributed for decades for no material reward.

Anonymous said...

What else can you expect from harman,she has always thought mps are above everyone else.

Colin said...

There's no case for any sort of "redundancy" payment whatsoever.

Becoming a member of parliament should not be a career choice nor an opportunity for enrichment. The fact is, that for many in politics, it is both these things, and is a contributing factor to the zener like decline in standards.

Fergus Pickering said...

£25 for a shirt? For a shirt? Get along down to the charity shops you luxurious bastards. You'll be wanting turtle soup from golden spoons next. Has nobody told you there's Recession on?

ScotsToryB said...

To calculate the number of weeks pay due, you should use the following amounts –

* 0.5 week's pay for each full year of service where age during year less than 22
* 1.0 week's pay for each full year of service where age during year is 22 or above, but less than 41
* 1.5 weeks' pay for each full year of service where age during year is 41+

If it takes me less than a minute to look this up and then post it here, why does it take anyone steeped in the political process...?

Frankly, I give up.

Iain has ran his own business(es) over the years and must know this. Many of you who comment must know this. So why the discussion?

I could go on at great length but, Iain, you know this so why not argue your point from the facts rather than the fact that this will result in a debate on your blog?

This is why so many people do not do politics: I know something is wrong, you know it too but....but you insist on a debate rather than stating the bloody obvious and either proposing a change or asking for ideas for a change.

Before you say you proposed a change, look at the figures above and then justify why six months salary is reasonable.

It is not.


manwiddicombe said...

I fall into the "fixed term contract" view of MPs. If a particular party fails to deliver to the population and is voted out of power, resulting in the loss of employment for a few hundred MPs, why should we be rewarding them for failure?

It's akin to the 'banking bonus' culture we hear so much about these days.

The Grim Reaper said...

Iain, remind me why you ever wanted to become a Member for Parliament again?

marksany said...

A week's pay per year of service is common for a redundancy payment. However that is for permanent staff. Since MPs are only appointed for a maximum of 5 years at a time, they are more like contractors who get no redundancy money when their contract is up.

Anonymous said...

Iain - it's simply a 'scorched earth' policy. They know the game is up and will scoff at the trough for as long as possible.

Hey said...

They shouldn't get compensation - they should be fined 3 years salary for losing an election. They need to be punished, not rewarded.

Of course the main problem is that MPs get any compensation at all. They should not be paid nor have any expenses or perks. They shouldn't be full time, they need to have outside interests so that they know what is happening in the real world.

A zero compensation system would also get you a better quality of MP, who had already been exceptionally successful, especially to be a minister or secretary of state, to be able to support themselves.

There should be no MP who has only worked in politics or for whom MP or Minister is the highest paid job of their career. These types are the ones who end up corrupt and engaging in fraud such as Harperson and Lord Mooney, or in the Blair's "interesting" financial arrangements and livign situation.

Anonymous said...


Sorry, I forgot to add to my original post that the second chamber should be used to place people who have proven themselves and have any experience that may be required to govern the country with a modicum of competence (maybe some former MPs of merit).

Bernard said...

There's no case for any sort of "redundancy" payment whatsoever.

Don't forget most of them have two or more "jobs" going at the same time. Being an MP today is a part-time job. (Brussels, unfortunately for us, does most of their dirty work for them)

Anonymous said...

The problem is MPs live in a similar bubble of unreality as academics. Thus they view the real world from a very distorted perspective.

If it was otherwise we would not spend billions on the Lardge Hadron Collider which if it ever works will prove only that the universe is too big, old and complex for us ever to understand its origins and Lord Mandy would not talk about Britain needing more real engineering and less financial engineering in the same week as his colleagues awarded the real engineering work on building a new generation of inter city trains to a Japanese company.
Real british Engineering, real Japanese jobs

Unsworth said...

Of course they understand. Even they are not that stupid.

But that's not the point. The real question is; Do they care?

Anonymous said...

That person Harman is beyond belief.

Has she any idea at all of what goes on outside her palace gates?

Contemptible is the only word that won't get this moderated.

Jax Blunt said...

MPs don't care about how they are regarded by the public. It's time we put that right - they should not be fleecing us every time we turn around, there should not be any severance pay (fixed term contracts, live with it or don't do it) and there certainly shouldn't be this ridiculous system of expenses that they are all living high on. I'm sure there must be some nic emptyish tower blocks around, why not provide accommodation in London for them while they are there, and they of course already have homes in the constituencies they are representing, where they should spend the majority of their time.

As for the ludicrous shouting matches and finger pointing that passes for debate in Parliament, I wouldn't let my five year old behave like that, and I think grown men and women should know much better.

Phil said...

The Mp's who do not get re-elected, if they were found not guilty of fiddling their expenses, should receive the same Government minimum package as the rest of us. The tax payers pay their salaries and benefits so the should adhere to their minimum payment policy. If that is not good enough for them, it is not good enough for us!!!

Those that were found to have "fiddled" their expenses should not receive any payment due to the fact that if they worked for an employer, they would have been sacked on the spot and not received any recompense for their sins.

I wish someone would put their foot down and treat these spongers with the disrespect they deserve.