MP salaries need to be doubled

Monkey's tea party

When you first learn economics you are taught the basic laws of supply and demand. How there is more supply as things become more expensive. It is what has driven markets, and thus the world’s economy for thousands of years. The same applies with employment, if you offer a higher salary you can employ scarcer, higher quality candidates. If you offer a lower salary you will only get lower quality applicants. As the old saying goes, pay peanuts, get monkeys.

When parliament was first formed MPs got no pay at all. They were the rich people and didn’t need it, also parliamentary hours were very short. The Parliament act of 1911 introduced the first salary of £400, but even then it was assumed that MPs had a second job or another source of income.

Now we have MPs who are mostly full time professionals. And it is an incredibly demanding job. The MPs and ministers that I know are either working or asleep! The demands of constituencies, handling world events, law making and running the political system are huge. No wonder family breakdown is so common for them. Yet they are paid miserably. Just £67,060 a year. A premiership soccer player wouldn’t get out of bed for this much every week. It is half what a headmaster or GP can earn. So why should a headmaster or GP, people who could contribute greatly, want to be an MP? Surely we want the best people possible running the country and so we should pay for them.

MPs salaries are kept low for political reasons. It is seen as bad publicity to give them more money. We prefer to pay less and have lower quality MPs. There was a way round the problem and that was to pay over generous expenses. To give MPs money in ways other than their salaries. But this was famously abused, with 6 Labour MPs being prosecuted for criminal fraud. So a new expenses system was enforced in 2010 and it is ruthlessly strict, every penny claimed by every MP can be seen by every person in the country. This is far stricter than the expenses system in any commercial company and it impairs the lives and ability to work of our lawmakers.

So now we are losing a large number of MPs at the next general election in 2015. Some are standing down after just one term. Obvious some are retirees, but many are highly talented and experienced people who we should not be losing. Here is a partial list:

CONSERVATIVES

Bexhill & Battle – Greg Barker
Boston & Skegness – Mark Simmonds
Bury St Edmunds – David Ruffley
Cannock Chase – Aiden Burley
Cardiff North – Jonathan Evans
Croydon South – Sir Richard Ottaway
Erewash – Jessica Lee
Havant – David Willetts
Hertsmere – James Clappison
Hove – Mike Weatherley
Louth & Horncastle – Sir Peter Tapsell
Mid Worcestershire – Sir Peter Luff
North East Hampshire – James Arbuthnot
North Warwickshire – Dan Byles
North West Hampshire – Sir George Young
Northampton South – Brian Binley
Richmond (Yorks) – William Hague
South Cambridgeshire – Andrew Lansley
South East Cambridgeshire – Sir Jim Paice
South Ribble – Lorraine Fullbrook
South Suffolk – Tim Yeo
South Thanet – Laura Sandys
Tonbridge & Malling – Sir John Stanley
Uxbridge & Ruislip South – Sir John Randall
Wealden – Charles Hendry

LABOUR

Aberavon – Hywel Francis
Aberdeen North – Frank Doran
Ashton Under Lyne – David Heyes
Batley & Spen – Mike Wood
Blackburn – Jack Straw
Bootle – Joe Benton
Bradford South – Gerry Sutcliffe
Bristol South – Dame Dawn Primarolo
Coventry North East – Bob Ainsworth
Cynon Valley – Ann Clwyd
Dulwich & West Norwood – Dame Tessa Jowell
Ellesmere Port & Neston – Andrew Miller
Falkirk – Eric Joyce*
Glenrothes – Lindsay Roy
Gower – Martin Caton
Great Grimsby – Austin Mitchell
Greenwich & Woolwich – Nick Raynsford
Hampstead & Kilburn – Glenda Jackson
Leeds East – George Mudie
Lewisham, Deptford – Dame Joan Ruddock
Neath – Peter Hain
Salford & Eccles – Hazel Blears
Sheffield, Brightside & Hillsborough – David Blunkett
Sheffield, Heeley – Meg Munn
Southampton, Itchen – John Denham
St Helens South & Whiston – Shaun Woodward
Stirling – Anne McGuire
Stoke-on-Trent North – Joan Walley
Swansea East – Sian James
Workington – Sir Tony Cunningham

LIBERAL DEMOCRAT

Bath – Don Foster
Berwick-upon-Tweed – Sir Alan Beith
Brent Central – Sarah Teather
Gordon – Sir Malcolm Bruce
Hazel Grove – Sir Andrew Stunell
Mid Dorset and North Poole – Annette Brooke
North East Fife – Sir Menzies Campbell
Redcar – Ian Swales
Somerton & Frome – David Heath

PLAID CYMRU

Dwyfor Meirionnydd – Elfyn Lloyd

Obviously there are other issues. We have far too many MPs. Part of the coalition agreement between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats was to reduce this number, but the Liberal Democrats reneged on the deal, so it didn’t happen. When the Conservatives win GE15 it will happen.

You might say that there are lots of candidates for every election, so we must be paying enough. But don’t confuse quantity with quality. It is very rare for a city high flyer like Sajid Javid to give up a life of plenty for the penury of being an MP. And constituency candidate selectors obviously get a far poorer selection to choose from than they would if the job paid better. It is a huge sacrifice to become an MP in terms of the demands of the jobs, why would career high flyers take the further punishment of having their lifestyle curtailed by a huge pay cut?

As a country it is in our best interests to pay MPs a lot more, so we get better MPs which leads to us getting better ministers. The total cost is utterly minuscule compared to the £3 billion that the government spends every day. Doubling the current rate would be a good start.

 

 

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1 Comment


  1. Couldn’t disagree more. Having worked at Westminster, I know how easy it is for MPs to look busy but do not much. Staff in their offices do the work, write the letters, make the calls and speak with the constituents. To see an MP, you have to wait for a surgery, or be lucky enough to be there as they pop into a community event for the photocall – and that’s the good MPs. OK, I generalise, there are a few who work bloody hard, but not the majority.

    They all apply for the job, knowing the salary and knowing that they can employ a partner at up to another £40k; thats over £100k for the household. Then they can have a second home, where they can claim for everything they need, down to the toilet brush. It is a ridiculous system and one that needs changing, but to suggest doubling the salaries, well that is just madness.

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