Posted by Jake on Saturday, June 06, 2015 with 3 comments | Labels: Article, elections, expense fraud, Graphs, inequality, MP, pay, politicians, public sector
To support its contention that MPs are underpaid, IPSA helpfully provided a graph showing the pay of a basic bog-standard MP compared to other senior professionals. Here we see how our MPs are at the bottom of the pile of what IPSA considers their peers.
a) MPs' earnings when they hold additional responsibilities in Parliament, from Assistant Whip to Cabinet Minister.
b) An example of an MP who earns an extra £250,000 a year doing other work (as a barrister) outside his MP duties. Search the "Register of Members' Financial Interests" and you will find many MPs with paid spare-time hobbies earning them tens and hundreds of thousands of pounds per year.
So what is the truth? There is no answer to that question. But the data shows:
1) Is being an MP a risky job? According to the Electoral Reform Society, taking results up to the 2010 election, the average parliamentary seat had not changed parties since 1960. Some had not changed since the time of Queen Victoria. While there are casualties at every election (and the occasional massacre e.g. in 2015: Labour in Scotland and the LibDems everywhere), most MPs are in "safe seats" they are unlikely to lose.
2) Do we need to pay MPs more because of the great responsibility they bear? When it comes to voting, MPs either do what the rest of their party do (63% of the time) or don't turn up (36% of the time). Data from The Public Whip, for the 2010-15 parliament, shows out of all the votes during that parliament, the average MP only voted against his party 1 time in 100. MPs march through the voting lobbies with the predictability of sheep herded by a well trained collie. For those who say "pay peanuts you get monkeys", sheep are even cheaper.
So what is to be done? The Tory government has been against standardised pay in the public sector. In the 2013 budget, the Tories stated their plan to snuff out "progression pay":
"In the Budget 2013 the government announced that it would seek significant further savings from progression pay in the 2013 Spending Round. In the 2013 Spending Round it announced that departments would be putting in place plans to end automatic time-served progression pay in the civil service by 2015 to 2016; also that substantial reform to progression pay would be taken forward or was already under way for teachers, the health service, prisons and police."
How about applying the government's public sector pay philosophy to MPs:
a) £5,000 reduction in pay for "safe seat" constituencies that have not changed party in the last 3 elections. [like a pay premium for teachers working in tough schools]
b) £5,000 reduction in pay for "nodding donkey" MPs who have rebelled in fewer than 5% of votes. [like a pay reduction for 'coasting' doctors]
c) For "swinger" MPs who will not sign away their right to outside paid jobs: zero hour contracts paid per vote, per select committee attendance, and per speech in Parliament. With a 25% surtax on external earnings. [like the 700,000 UK employees on Zero Hour Contracts]
IPSA proposes to reduce other MP benefits, to appear to put a pill under all the sugar:
- to reduce MPs’ generous pension benefits [as has been done in both public and private sectors, with changes to retirement age, indexation, closure of Defined Benefit schemes];
- to scrap resettlement payments for MPs which had been worth up to a year’s salary [perhaps a benefit they actually do deserve to keep];
- to tighten MPs’ expenses further ["further"? According to the Guardian, for 2013/14 MPs claimed more expenses than at height of 2009 scandal. Though IPSA said, taking inflation into account they claimed the same as at the height of the 2009 scandal!]
Will our Parliamentarians take the same medicine they give to the rest of the Public Service? Instead they sit like Trollopian vicars holding out their plates saying they couldn't possibly manage another slice of cake.
In the end they will politely force themselve to manage another 7,000. So as not to cause offense.
[The other favourite argument for giving MPs a payrise is to help poorer people become MPs. Also nonsense - >>CLICK HERE<< to read why]