MPs\’ Pay

I\’m afraid Iain Dale gets it rather wrong here:

Whenever I have written about this subject before it\’s provoked a torrent of responses from people who believe MPs shouldn;t be paid at all, let alone paid £60,000. Absolute tosh. What those people are arguing for is a Parliament full of rich people who can afford not to be paid. Surely we should pay our MPs at a level where few would actually be put off standing for Parliament. I\’d like Parliament to be representative of a number of professions, but few people from those professions would think about standing for Parliament because they would have to take a pay drop. Relatively junior managers in industry or the public sector now command salaries in excess of what MPs earn. What message does it send out that we are happy to pay MPs the same as the Deputy Public Affairs Manager of an NHS Trust?

The value of any job in a market economy is set by supply and demand. We have a (relatively) fixed demand for MPs. Some 630 or so (roughly, isn\’t it?).

At the last general election some 3,000 people stood for one of those seats. Some will say that some were markedly unqualified (from Monster Raving Loonies to Trots of various types) but this isn\’t, in a democracy, a valid position to hold. Any and every one of us is qualified to be an MP: that\’s what rule by the people means.

So as we have 3,000 qualified applicants for some 600 jobs, clearly, we are overpaying those who do it. MPs pay should therefore be cut, radically.

In fact, back in the day when being an MP attracted no salary at all (only Ministers were paid) we had no shortage of MPs. Thus we would have no shortage now if MPs were unpaid now (that is arguable, but do you think there would be a shortage if this were the case?).

Cut MPs pay and cut it now!

16 comments on “MPs\’ Pay

  1. Congrats, Tim, you’ve failed to refute the central point, which was not about the quantity of MPs, but the quality.

    Incidentally, most (skilled) jobs go to shortlists of 5 or so people anyway, don’t they?

  2. How many of our current MPs can be said to have any “quality” other than poor?
    Twenty? Thirty?
    There isn’t a single Cabinet Minister is there?

  3. The alternative is for MPs, as part of their manifesto to state what they demand as renumeration, which would then be linked to RPI throughout the term of the parliament.

  4. I think that MPs, if they don’t pay their own way, should be paid out of their own party’s funds.

    The worst thing to happen to British politics was having professional politicians; going from university to Westminster without real life getting in the way.

  5. As 70% of our laws now originate from Brussels why do we have to have so many MPs.? Get rid of half of them and pay the rest on PBR.

  6. We should put public office out of the reach of people who have spent less than ten years working in the private sector. Most of our political candidates have spent their whole lives in the public sector, producing nothing, answerable to no-one.

  7. In principle I agree with your point of view but:

    I’m getting on a bit, and, for various reasons, have spent a few hours under the knife in the past few years.

    My last op was for cataracts. I opted to pay for a consultant to do the necessary rather than take up an offer from the NHS to carry out the identical procedure with fully qualified staff without charge.

    I rest my case.

  8. Three things: firstly what makes most MPs think they would be capable of being a captain of industry? None of the current party leaders has any track record at all in this context, so why should they get comparable salaries? (Nor incidentally is it true that most middle managers in industry earn more than MPs. If Iain Dale thinks this he should get out more.)
    Secondly, their annual salary is only the half of or maybe only the quarter of their total renumeration. What about the second home allowance, the office allowance, the travel allowance, the virtually unchecked travel and miscellaneous expenses?.
    Finally, what makes them think that increasing their salaries would attract “professionals” to the job. It is not the salary that puts people off becoming MPs, it is the compromises they have to make, the lies they have to tell and the contempt in which they are held by most of the population. The claim that increased salaries are needed to attract a better class of MP is sheer sophistry.

  9. “So as we have 3,000 qualified applicants for some 600 jobs, clearly, we are overpaying those who do it. MPs pay should therefore be cut, radically.”

    Wow. What a silly, silly thing to say.

    There is a surplus of qualified applicants for most jobs. That’s why you have interviews. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the pay for these jobs is too high.

    “The value of any job in a market economy is set by supply and demand.”

    Please put down the Early Learning Centre economics playkit and step away from the keyboard.

    Tim adds: At last ! An inventive insult! Well done that man!

  10. It’s not just the 3,000 taking part in an election that one must consider but the many hundreds if not thousands who are desperate to become candidates in the main parties. There is no shortage of supply, most of it of very poor quality as there is no particular way of establishing what qualities are needed for a good MP. In fact, we do not even know what an MP of good quality is.

    Somebody has already mentioned that 70 or 80 per cent of our legislation comes from the EU, most of it without ever hitting parliament and the rest cannot be rejected. In other words, their supposed work load has been cut drastically.

    Nor has there been a great deal of holding the executive to account in the few cases the British parliament has still freedom to decide.

    Finally, the work with constituents that people are so hot on, much of it should be left to local councils and, in any case, anyone who has ever seen an MP “work” knows that it is an efficient secretary that creates “the good constituency MP”.

    Frankly, getting rid of half or three-quarters of them will not make the slightest difference to anyone though I doubt it very much that any of these drongos will be able to get highly paid jobs in the private sector. The retired ones get directorships because of their political contacts not because of their ability.

  11. In other words, their supposed work load has been cut drastically.

    Wrong! 99% of this supposed figure is made up of statutory instruments, i.e. what teh yanks call administrative decisions, which get at most one read in the House.

  12. At the last general election some 3,000 people stood for one of those seats.

    Yes, because the system ensures that parties are obligated to put up the deposit for a candidate in no-hope distant third or lower seats in order to qualify for free mailings and Party Election Broadcasts. Overwhelming majority of those standing knew they couldn’t win and weren’t even interested in doing so.

    Change the system so that you don’t get the “most have our name on every ballot” syndrom and the number of people standing would substantially reduce.

    You would have a point. Except that the system for elections isn’t a properly functioning market but a method of perpetuating an oligopoly. Have a method for electing that allows for real voter choice (multi-member constituencies and preferential voting for example).

    Most of the candidates are crap. Indeed, a big chunk of MPs are crap. As I’ve just said at DKs, I want my representative in Parliament to be one of the best and brightest in my area, and I want a real choice between candidates knowing that my vote isn’t wasted (preferential system=interview shortlist in a way). The current system makes that unlikely to happen. Reduce salaries and you’ll end up with a Parliament full of career aparatchiks. Do you really want more like Cameron, Blears and Usher?

  13. “99% of this supposed figure is made up of statutory instruments, i.e. what teh yanks call administrative decisions, which get at most one read in the House.”

    Wrong, wrong, wrong! A very large proportion of EU legislation is Regulations, which are directly applicable, i.e. they avoid Parliament altogether. If any British implementation is required it is done by various departments or quangos like the Food Standards Agency. As for statutory instruments, very few of them are affirmative ones, which are read, mostly in committe not the whole House while negative statutory instruments, the vast majority, are merely tabled in both Houses and “lie” there for 40 working days. During that time MPs can try to debate it, mostly through Early Day Motions, which rarely get anywhere. The chances of a debate on an SI in the House of Lords are higher. So no, most statutory instruments do not get read even once. In any case, if they implement EU legislation, they cannot be rejected by either House.

  14. Could these bloggers get into their thick skulls that we want MPs of a high quality. You get rubbish at present.
    At present the house is full of polly rejects. mediocre, nobodies. We need a higher quality of MP.
    I cannot imagine any intelligent man who cares about his chilren or his reputation, would ever become a MP. The school fees alone would barely be covered, let alone the quality of life.
    The PM should not respond to jealousy from a bitter public. If you want a MPs wages go to school and become one.

  15. May I ask why people seem to think that high quality goes with high pay? I’d like to see some figures. We pay CEOs a lot of money because we hope they are the best and will do a good job. I expect that we pay them a lot of money because they are good at persuading us that they are the best and will do a good job. Certainly in the small and petty world of academia places like Oxford and Cambridge recruit excellent staff even though they pay them an utter pittance (especially the short term junior contract staff). Both in the top three Universities of the world. I doubt there are many people at either place who could not improve their living conditions if they took up an offer from a third rate American college – especially where housing and after tax income is concerned.

    One of the reasons decent people don’t go into politics, in my opinion, has nothing to do with money. It is life style. Few of us have such impeccable moral lives they could withstand concentrated media attention. It is a vile and disgusting job by and large. You have to put up with people like Jonathan Ross. And clearly it is attracting the sort of people who like being on TV – the same sort of people who in other lives would go on Big Brother. Needy. Inadequate. But desparate for attention. Few normal pe0ple can compete with the fierce desire of these sad little attention seekers to be the centre of media attention. So of course none of us, if I may use that term generally, even bother.

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