MEMBERS of parliament could lose the right to vote themselves pay increases under plans to link their salaries directly to the earnings of judges and other senior public sector staff.

Gordon Brown, the prime minister, is understood to be “sympathetic” to proposals that would ensure the pay of MPs is in step with that of judges or senior doctors, most of whom earn at least £100,000 a year.

Hmm. Let us think about this for a little bit, shall we? A judge will have had to go through a number of qualifying stages. First to become a lawyer. Then to actually become a good one (no, they don\’t promote the dunderheads). A working career of 20-30 years perhaps, being monitored all the while. Then there will be, at some point along the way, trainee judgeships: things like a part-time Recorder (something Cherie Booth has done, as an example). Finally, our lawyer, who has done this part-time judging so that people can evaluate ability to do the job, might get appointed. And, at least usually, take a pay cut when becoming a judge.

Doctors? To become a senior doctor (or a GP), you first need to get top end results at A level to even get into medical school. Then there\’s the first degree and some further years of training. 7 in total I think it is. Plus some further years of on the job training to get to the point where one is indeed making that fabled £100k. Something like a decade all told: less time than a judge, certainly, but then one is not taking a pay cut when reaching that peak.

And to become an MP? Well, let\’s be honest about this, shall we? For most of the UK constituencies are in fact one party states. Aberystwyth (or however you spell the damn place) or Islwyn will elect a donkey as long as it wears a red rosette. Hull East is coming up for selection and everyone knows that the Labour Party nominee will become the MP. Similarly, if Boris wins the Mayorality and leaves Henley, no one thinks that anything other than the Tory Party hustings will determine who the next MP is. Thus for most (many?) MPs, certainly those who actually expect to make a career of it in a safe seat, becoming an MP is about greasing up to the small number of people who determine who the nominee is for a certain party in a certain seat.

And the argument is that this skill should be equally rewarded as the other two?

I think not.

15 thoughts on “MPs\’ Pay”

  1. Also, as I have said elsewhere, MP’s determine the pay of said Judges and Doctors and if their salaries are linked they will not be disinterested judges when the subject comes up for debate in parliament

  2. They should peg their salaries to that of a job more parallel in terms of skill, training and competency…

    Tesco shelf-stackers maybe?

  3. 20 years ago, MPs pay was linked to a public sector salary – that of “Principal” level administrative civil servants a.k.a. Grade 7.

    I’m sure you can guess how their current pay compares to the 2008 equivalent.

    Incidentally, any discussion of this point should always draw strong attention to MPs uncontrolled “expenses”, whihc pay for many of those things that we serfs have to stump up for from (over)taxed income.

  4. “Aberystwyth (or however you spell the damn place) will elect a donkey as long as it wears a red rosette.”
    Yellow, actually – its a LibDem stronghold.

  5. MPs should not be paid by the taxpayer at all (thus no pension either), and the only expenses they should be allowed to claim are those directly involved with government business. Security expenses will be paid by the taxpayer as well, i.e for the police protection officers, etc.

    The MPs’ salaries, living expenses and constituency admin expenses should be paid by their parties, or they should be wealthy enough to afford it themselves. The parties, obviously, should not get any public funding either, and private donations to political parties limited to say £1000 max per donor per year, all directly from individuals, and all paid from a UK bank account.

  6. One had thought that the object of paying MP’s was to ensure that they would be immune to the effects of lobbying.

    When you write that “And the argument is that this skill should be equally rewarded as the other two?”, you forget that judges, GP’s and colonels aren’t subject to electoral pressures.

    I can live with elected judges, for sure – but electing the Chief of the Defence Staff would be a step too far, don’t you think?

    Which means somebody accountable has to appoint them, and as that can only be MP’s then a case can be made that being a Member of Parliament is most certainly a senior appointment.

    What’s the alternative, Tim? Philosopher Kings?

  7. It should be fairly straightforward to compile an average remuneration for a selected professional group, say surgeons, engineers, lawyers, Army Officers, teachers, with 20 years experience. We could base it on that.

    Security, transport, and office costs should be paid for by the taxpayer, fair enough. But MPs and ministers should be obliged to live in dedicated secure accomodation while in London. No more allowances for appartments. And no other allowances for staff or researchers.

  8. So Much For Subtlety

    “But MPs and ministers should be obliged to live in dedicated secure accomodation while in London. ”

    Absolutely: Pentonville.

    (although the Prison Trust might complain that is too cruel to the lags inside)

  9. Why on Earth should MPs’ salaries be fixed, when as Tim points out, professionals get more money the more experienced they are. Perhaps we should pay brand new MPs the rate of a junior doctor, and raise their salaries for every year in parliament?

  10. … I actually quite like the idea, proposed elsewhere, that MPs should list the salary that they are prepared to take on the ballot paper, and voters can decide whether or not they are worth it.

  11. Tim,

    I am rather surprised at your choice of Lawyers/Judges and Medics as your comparison. Both fields operate highly restrictive practices designed largely to increases their remuneration. There is no shortage of very well qualified candidates in either of these areas and they only maintain their salary levels by restrictions in access and monopolistic practices.

    Milton Friedman had plenty to say about both of them.

    MPs are simply behaving in a similar fashion.

    My proposal, as I have said before is that local voters pay MPs salaries directly and that the candidate has to say before the election what salary they will require electors to pay. However, if you do want to compare MP salaries to other groups, I suggest that it is linked to professionals in internationally competitive (because then we can be sure of removing the influence of restrictive practices) fields.

  12. I am 67, my father predicted in c. 1956 that when MPs pay went up to £750 pa “they would never resign on a point of principle”.
    MPs, mostly now earn more (and live more comfortably) than most of them would ever have expected in their “normal jobs” as teachers, managers, engineers, etc. etc.
    To vote on principle or not to follow their party line is just too costly for them.
    My father was right. How many have resigned in the last 450 years? 2 is it?

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