Monday, 22 June 2009

Senior Salaries Review Body interference in MPs' pay flawed

The Senior Salaries Review Body is a loathsome makeplace quango that attempts to introduce the wage regulation of the free market into areas in which there is no market. It excuses itself by offering judges and senior military officers as examples of salaries about which its advice is essential. This is rubbish. In both of these occupations, the market operates. If the rewards for judges - a package of pay, status and a peerage - are not sufficiently attractive, too few QCs of calibre will apply and the Lord Chancellor will need to tweak the package. Likewise, if too few colonels of required ability want to stay on to take their first star, there's something wrong with the package.

No, the real reason for the SSRB's existance is to find reasons to inflate the pay of those architects of the Leviathan central State - our mandarins. And those mandarins in turn share the rewards with other public sector bosses. And just why should one of these slick jobsworths be worth £180k a year for writing a 40 page code of practice on Wheelie Bins? If I were asked to 'grade' the sort of employee responsible for the pettifogging morass of regulations, inititaives, guidance and codes coming from Whitehall, I'd probably come up with £25k a year and hide them away from anywhere they could do any real damage, probably with the additional task of keeping a detailed account of the number of biscuits consumed during site meetings. They could give me little excel graphs each month.

It is a matter of general public agreement that GPs are now overpaid and that council bosses are grossly over-rewarded. It is utterly fatuous of the oleaginous John Bercow to submit that MPs should be similarly overpaid. But let's look at other senior salaries instead; imagine the benches of the Commons filled with, say, Crown Court judges or Brigadiers.

Nope. Doesn't work for me. A man (or woman) who commands up to 2,000 trained soldiers in battle, tanks, artillery, air support, field hospitals, intelligence, communications, together with their rations, supplies transport and accommodation, who displays standards of organisation and leadership necessary to bring his brigade to war displays in every way a level of ability and worth greater than some troughing apparatchik incapable even of adding up their Council Tax bill, or obsessed with claiming the cost of their crystal grapefruit bowls from the taxpayer. So not 646 brigadiers, then. What about 646 majors? Hmm - more likely. Stalwarts of the golf club, maintainers of the British blazer industry and shoe polish sector, pillars of the community etc. but not perhaps gifted with those special skills that would fit them for higher rank. Yep - majors work for me. I could see 646 majors filling the green benches. Clement Atlee was a major. What do majors get? Currently the pay band is £47k - £56k. MPs on £64k, sitting for just 160 days a year, with perks, and nobody shooting at them or asking them to sleep in a wet ditch and eat cardboard for breakfast, seem to be doing pretty well already.


Anonymous said...

I really do not see the parallel.

A Major gets it wrong - people die - possibly him too.

If he shows incompetance he can be court-marshalled - Not so a MP.

If he is dishonest - even in a tiny way - he is fired - no question no appeal.

A major has strictly controlled expense allowances - a pound out is a disciplinary offence - MPs !

What risk does a rt hon member face.

All he needs do is find the right lobby to walk through, do as the whips tell him and he is secure, in most cases, for as long as he wants.

As for being in government - a complete farce no politician since Maggie's days has taken on the Civil Service. They just sign on the dotted line.

Paying more is not the way. People who can earn more will earn more, they won't become MPs for the same money or even more money - they are leaders - I doubt more than one in a hundred MPs could lead a pack of brownies.

And a second elected house will be just as bad

Raedwald said...

Forgive me if I gave way to a hint of levity - I have nothing but the highest regard for majors as a class. What you say about the responsibilities of an officer is entirely correct. But the point is, I think, that majors are not constrained in their behaviour by the threat of being cashiered, but by a sense of honour and duty; generally they would as soon piss on their mother's grave than dishonour their regiment. And this is their real strength.