Tuesday, 10 December 2013

MPs' Pay.

In an independent report, IPSA, the body responsible for parliamentary oversight suggests a pay rise for MPs of eleven percent. Frankly I am for the idea.

The whole travesty of the expenses scandal occurred owing to MPs not putting up their wages but instead supplementing their income through the back-door of expenses. The majority of them are running two households, one of which is in London, one of the most expensive cities in the world. On a basic of £66K (a little less than $110,000 US), that is by no means a life of luxury.

In Scotland, MSPs have their expenses published on a website and thus accountable to the press and people of the UK. I want to see the same for Westminster. I also want MPs to be paid decently so it does not rely on either coming from a background of privilege, or being sponsored by private industry or trade unions.

This has been a problem since the rules changed under Thatcher in the late 1970s and is still being avoided for popularist political motives. I am fed up of the knee-jerk reaction of those against, but most especially those in the cabinet who were back-benchers but are now All Right Jack, being on ministerial wages (about double), and those who demand the highest ethical standards but demand the minimum living standards for our elected representatives. To keep MPs poor is to open the door to corruption.

Before the Thatcher reforms, each MP from outside London got £3000 and was told to get on with it. It was up to them how they used the money. If they had the means of renting a Mayfair apartment, fine.  If they preferred to save the cash and bed down under Westminster Bridge, that was their business. There was no need for oversight; they just got the money and made their own arrangements.

Instead of having IPSA, another level of bureaucracy, to monitor our elected representatives, maybe it is time to return to the practices of a more simple age.