Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Paying MPs more will only encourage their greed

If you extend the arguments being made by supporters of increasing the wedge paid to MPs, you must believe that burglers burgle because their welfare benefits are not high enough, and that to stop them robbing our houses we must fill their mouths with gold. Claims by MPs to 'Pay us more or we'll keep thieving' are outrageous and should never be considered.

The answer to thieving, bent and crooked MPs isn't to pay them more; this will only attract even more greedy, self-serving, amoral narcissists in search of a comfy berth with no heavy lifting and the opportunity for some freelance crookedness. As it happens, I believe the current base of between £60,000 - £70,000 is about right - and that this should only rise in line with the nation's average earnings increases. 

However, discouraging both the sense of entitlement that MPs have, and their attraction to lobbyists, will require a constitutional change. We must go back to the demands of the Chartists in 1838 and Item 6 of the Charter - the only article left unfulfilled. This called for
(6) Annual Parliament Elections, thus presenting the most effectual check to bribery and intimidation, since as the constituency might be bought once in seven years (even with the ballot), no purse could buy a constituency (under a system of universal suffrage) in each ensuing twelvemonth; and since members, when elected for a year only, would not be able to defy and betray their constituents as now.
I don't believe that annual elections are still the best answer. Whilst what Lutfur Rahman did in Tower Hamlets to buy the Mayorality - bribery and imtimidation - was once widespread for Parliamentary elections, it is now a danger now largely confined only to Pakistani constituencies. And an effective power of recall if MPs 'defy and betray' their constituents should deal with the other leg of the problem. 

Whatever remedy we find must allow men and women of true probity, selflessness and with a total commitment to the public good to fill Parliament and deter the disgraceful bent old wrecks such as Rifkind and Straw from infesting like lice the heart of our democracy. 

17 comments:

DeeDee99 said...

It's no wonder so many of their progeny want a safe seat.

They've learnt a great deal from daddy's example - chiefly that being an MP is the route to wealth via the contacts you can develop.

It's not what you know .....

right_writes said...

The need to reform the electoral process has only really become urgent since Cameron and Clegg cooked up the five year parliament. The state funding of political parties can not be far off, as you regularly point out Raedwald.

In my view this has set a precedent, it allows future governments (along with the current one, obviously), to do whatever it likes with impunity, it can't be derailed by the people and it seems like it is difficult for the MP's to beat it, were they so motivated.

The other old device that I think should be revived is the necessity for an MP who has been offered a promotion to government to go to his constituency for re-election/approval for the new job.

And I also reckon that the electorate should have a power to either re-call an errant MP... That power should also enable the people to take the government to task through citizen ballot triggered binding referendums.

In a democracy, we the people are supposed to be able to call the government to account... I do not think that the bankers would have been able to not only get off scot free, but to thrive as a result of their criminality, had we been able to force government's hand.

Finally, I have no time for the ideas of Richard North, even if he had something sensible to say, for a change.

Anonymous said...

Getting back to basics: the £60-70k salary is perfectly reasonable, but lets not forget that any MP can double this up with the expenses policy (which we, in private sector are not allowed) and the employment of family members to keep money in the family. In short, the total package is generous!

Now if our 600 or so MPs don't think the salary and perks as generous, then they can bugger off and let someone else do the job; the someone else could be a person with real hard-life experiences and lots of savvy; someone who would diligently love doing the job and bring honesty and graft into a house that doesn't know the meaning of those words.

Coney Island

G. Tingey said...

Disagree
I think, actually paying a really decent slary, like £150k would be a good idea
WITH THE PROVISO
That any "extras" are not allowed, & that if you try that you are out on your ear, barred for standing anywhere else, ever, & with an immediate bye-election.

G. Tingey said...

OH, yes ... I forgot:
"Recall" should be an option, too.

Brightside Bob said...

I believe that it used to be the case that people became MPs' after accumulating experience/wealth & therefore were able to be of service to their country (stop sniggering at the back).

We now have the opposite. No nothings become an MP in order to make useful contacts; both for & after their time in Parliament.



Brightside Bob said...

'Know nothings' also...!!!

Span Ows said...

I agree with G Tingey: pay them more (but not the 150K he speaks of), say 100K but thereafter ZERO expenses except fare from home to London ONCE a week, certainly no 2nd home (UK Gov to pay Premier Inn style purpose built housing), certainly no decorating/improvements to existing residence, no food except that in Premier in stylee canteen.

Anonymous said...

I'd pay them to leave us alone - this country would not only survive but could actually be more prosperous without MP's.

(How mamy billions do their fuck-ups cost us?)

That other thorny question is the school>university>house of commons politician we have to suffer today.

Put a minimum age of 30 on those who wish to stand - no more wet behind the ears legislators.

And an upper age limit, equal to the national retirement age, to deter grasping grandfolks and money grubbing 'elder statesman'.

Steve

Steve

Cascadian said...

As DeeDee99 says the position (it is not a job and was never intended to be a job) of MP has become far too lucrative, for part-time attendance.

The entire idea of a representative parliament and its excessive costs to operate needs looking at.

Its present location needs major renovation, some estimates put this work at 4 billion GBP, it should be sold off to a reputable hotel or office company, proceeds applied to the national debt. The parliament should then be relocated to an area in central England where a disreputable "university" exists adjacent to a railway station. The "university" should be disbanded (there are far to many pumping out ridiculous alumni in useless subjects),lecture halls could be modified, student residences and refectories likewise, ending the lucrative income streams of expenses and second homes. Income for the MP's should be set at its present level, additional remuneration for committees or more senior posts should be removed, these people continually bleat that they are doing this for the benefit of the public, let them do just that.

Every MP must be a permanent resident of the riding and be a taxpayer. Number of ridings reduced by 33%. Democracy is not best served by Mr and Mrs Balls and Mr and Mrs Dromey, nor by a second generation of Straws and Bliars.

You will then attract less venal representatives who will not wish to make the job a lifetime sinecure. I doubt it would be possible that this less attractive option would attract less qualified candidates-look at the present incumbents?

Edward Spalton said...

G Tingey.
Greg,
Being an MP can be a demanding occupation but was never regarded as a full time job. That is why the hours of parliament were set so that Hon members could continue their careers at the bar. I never heard of an MP who was so busy that he could not take on the high pressured job of being a senior government minister.

I have no problem with MPs keeping their hands in at honest occupations of all sorts so that they don't become a charge on the public when their constituents tire of them. What is odious is the peddling of influence in high places like " taxis plying for hire" as one MP expressed it a while ago.

The form of "dirty" privatisation, most heavily promoted by Labour, provides inbuilt corruption across the generations. Ministers who awarded huge contracts soon return as consultants and directors of the firms to which they awarded contracts when in office, giving a clear message of future prosperity to the next intake.

Odin's Raven said...

If politicians had to be paid by their supporters, not by the public, that could ameliorate several problems.

The political parties have lost mass membership because they now only represent special interests. Politicians would be motivated to gather paying supporters. Donations by companies and organizations could be severely limited.

Party whipping could be banned so each MP's performance could be judged on his individual merits, by the people who may decide not to continue paying him.

Deferred compensation in the Blairite manner, should be banned. Anyone who gets rich from politics, before or after service as an MP should be strictly investigated, and their buyers punished.

There's little need for a work place for MP's in this electronic age, except for ceremonial occasions. They could have video conferencing, emails, mobile phones etc. They don't need to be physically present to vote. Group meetings could be held anywhere.

They don't need to all be in London. They can 'work from home'.

A few simple reforms, and a few score condign examples, could exert a salutary effect on political standards, not least by making political life less attractive to the sleazy.

Peter Whale said...

Pay them £100.000 and make them subject to the same tax structures as the rest of us. All benefits in kind to be taxed and the same old age pension as the rest of us. They can of course pay into a scheme out of their salary. No private medical or private schools for theim and their families as a requisite of the job then we might see improvements in these institutions.

G. Tingey said...

ES
That was then.
Times have changed - though I think there is far too much going on in Parliament & even more in Brussel ... ( But that's another story )
My MP works full-time at her job, but she may be unusual ....

OTOH there are creatures like this MORONIC TWAT:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/nhs/11432344/Astrology-could-solve-crisis-in-the-NHS-says-Tory-MP.html
Who should be thrown out of office right now as criminally insane, if nothing elese ....

Rush is Right said...

For me, the salaries and expenses offered to MPs are absurdly high. Look at the benches full of mediocrity, how many of them would command a salary of £65k in the outside world? Would the likes of Dennis Skinner be employable at all in any capacity?

My solution would be to pay them a modest stipend close to the national average wage (say £35k) plus reimbursement of genuine expenses under the same rules that apply to employees everywhere else. Let's see them having P11Ds submitted for them, then they will get an inkling of how the rest of us get on. And if that's not enough money, then let the parties top them up.

Being an MP has become a career. It should not be. Local government has gone the same way, and that has to be dealt with too.

Anonymous said...

Even better, why pay the bastards at all? No salary, no expenses, pay for your own office, have a real job and bring that experience with you ...

Bloke In Italy said...

The fundamental problem, which is rarely if ever addressed in public debate is not who is chosen or how they are chosen.

It is that once there, they are expected to control far too much of our lives.

Government has become vastly intrusive, and the more it tries to control, by definition the more resources are wasted (wealth generated by working people) and freedom, and therefore happiness, is diminished.

the essence to improving government is a politicla culture that encourages freedom, innovation, diversity (not in the wobbly left meaning, but diversity of opinion, of method, in other words, healthy diversity that leads to innovation and advancement).

Because most people's opinions are formed by teachers (mostly conformist lefties), the BBC (idem), occasionally the church (idem) or the press (conformist social democratic) and in none of these institutions is freedom celebrated, (it is sometimes mentioned, usually followed by a "but") personally I see no hope whatsoever.