Monday 25 May 2009

What is an MP worth?

To justify their greedy snout-in-the-troughism, many MPs have bleated words to the effect: “Of course, if we were paid a decent salary, we wouldn’t have to fiddle our expenses.”

But what is a decent salary?

The basic pay for MPs is £64,766 per annum which puts them in the top 10% of earners.

They receive a generous allowance to pay for staff and office costs. Most people accept that MPs must be able to run an efficient office in order to serve constituents properly, although there is now a compelling argument for Parliament to provide secretarial and support services directly to avoid a repetition of the Derek Conway abuse.

There is also a reasonable argument that Parliament should now provide overnight accommodation facilities for MPs representing distant constituencies, to avoid further abuses of the Additional Costs Allowance.

Given that legitimate expenses incurred by MPs are already reimbursed, is a salary of nearly £65,000 reasonable? The public certainly thinks so considering that Westminster no longer has late night sittings and that MPs also receive an extremely generous holiday entitlement and a gold plated index linked pension to boot.

So what is the real market worth of an MP? There is no reason why public sector pay should not follow the supply and demand disciplines of the real world. If an MP’s basic salary was reduced to £30,000 a year, would there be a shortage of applicants standing at each election? Of course not. And at least we would then know that the candidates were standing on a platform of public service and not to stuff their own pockets with taxpayers cash.

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