I’m fed up with the myth-making around MP’s salaries and expenses.
1. As you can see from the above graphic from Guido Fawkes, for nearly 30 years MPs salaries have grown in real terms far faster than the UKs average salary (which has largely stagnated for a decade or more). Exactly how out of touch must they be to attempt to make the case that their pay is falling behind in relative terms. Don’t forget the above does not include expenses, gold plated pensions, one years salary on being made redundant (losing their seat at an election) etc.
2. They are not in high demand and cannot walk away into higher paid jobs. Ex-MP’s find it difficult to enter new lucrative careers as they are NOT desirable employees. A Leeds University study put it this way:
“Politics is a non-commercial career and our report shows that the idea that there are hundreds of ex-MPs walking into cushy and lucrative jobs is rubbish.”
3. Largely due to 1. we are not getting ‘lower quality’ MPs due to salary limitations. Additionally, according to David Blunkett on today’s BBC Daily Politics a third of the 2010 intake took a £30k+ salary drop to become backbenchers. We are however getting lower quality MPs due to the closed selection process each party has and due to the increasing number of MPs that move from University directly (or nearly directly) into political parties operations as “Special Advisers”.
4. The Salary of an average MP is £65,738 before expenses. Under PAYE their salary would net to c.£45,000. According to the IFS this level of net salary places MPs in the top 4% of earners in the UK and that is pre-expenses.
5. They claim that they should be paid in line with GPs and Headmasters. Why?
- GPs study for 5-7 years on no pay before undertaking a further 2 years training with long hours and relatively low pay.
- According to The Guardian (http://bit.ly/14JmnKG) it can take up to 17 years from entry level teacher to becoming a Headmaster and that is after studying for a degree and 2 years of post-graduate study.
What qualifications are required to become an MP? (Quite correctly) none. How many years of training? (Again correctly) none. On what basis should MPs be paid the same as highly trained and experienced GPs and headmasters… er … none.
So as IPSA have today recommended a pay rise to £75,000, watch greedy Mr Pickles explaining how working like “clockwork” justifies a free home and ask yourself is he and are they worth it?
Express your opinion by voting in the poll:
Guardian Editorial 1.7.13
The Guardian, Monday 1 July 2013 23.13 BST
When David Lloyd George first introduced salaries for members of parliament in 1911, MPs were each awarded £400 a year. In today’s money, that is the equivalent of a salary of just under £40,000. Over the next seven decades, the real-terms value of an MP’s money sometimes rose and sometimes fell. Yet by 1979, when Margaret Thatcher came to power, an MP was earning £9,450, which was still equivalent to a real-terms sum – £40,490 in today’s money – strikingly similar to the salary awarded before the first world war.
Today, by contrast, MPs are paid £66,396 a year. That is a six-fold increase in cash over 34 years. But it also equates to a real-terms increase of more than 50%. So, on the face of it, two of the more frequent complaints of our legislators would seem not to be supported by the facts. First, the facts suggest that MPs, contrary to what they often claim, are not historically underpaid. On the contrary – one might even say that they have never had it so good. Second, MPs’ complaint that they have found it increasingly difficult to get a fair deal in recent decades, because of rising prejudice against politicians among public opinion and the tabloid press, is actually at odds with the outcomes. This may indeed be a period in which press and public hostility to MPs has reached new heights. But MPs’ salaries have actually risen significantly both in cash and real terms during precisely this period.
MPs ought therefore to beware the temptations of self-pity, especially in the current economic climate. But that is not to dismiss all the other complaints that MPs sometimes make about their income as inherently dubious. There is no doubt that MPs’ expectations about salaries – like those of much of the population at large – have risen in the past 30 years. At the same time, however, the politics of MPs’ pay has become increasingly toxic. Lady Thatcher made it clear in the 1980s that she was unwilling to take a popularity hit from public opinion for boosting MPs’ pay – so she looked in the other direction while their expenses rose rapidly instead. Successor governments have taken the same hard-nosed view about pay. But the result was the expenses gravy train that gathered speed until it hit the buffers in 2008.
In 2009, after the expenses scandal, MPs decided, not unreasonably, that it was no longer possible for them to decide their own salaries and expenses. Instead the whole subject was outsourced to the new Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa). The independent authority has run a much tighter regime on expenses. But it has also looked once again at the issue of salaries. Though Ipsa’s final conclusions have not yet been published, it seems that it is to propose a substantial pay rise of about 15%, taking an MP’s salary to about £75,000 from after the next general election in 2015.
Westminster on Monday was awash with MPs insisting that they would not accept any such award. This is not surprising. With large swaths of public sector pay either frozen or held to a 1% cash rise ceiling up to 2016, MPs would be extremely reckless to risk voting for a 15% rise. MPs may have a pay grievance – not least when backbenchers compare their salaries with those of ministers – but MPs also read polls and want to be re-elected. Yet the net result makes a mockery of the system. MPs are damned if they decide their own pay and damned if someone else decides it too.
Parliamentary pay is caught in a cleft stick and it is tempting to share MPs’ frustrations that they just can’t win. Yet political pragmatism about hostile public opinion is not the only reason for holding back. Yes, parliament is important, and it is also desirable for politics to reacquire respect. Yet it is also a mistake to waste much sympathy on MPs over pay. Britain has too many legislators. MPs have passed up the chance to cut their own numbers or reform the House of Lords. These are hard times, and MPs have done relatively well on pay recently. For all these reasons, politicians can do without another large pay boost right now.”