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January 12, 2013

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Roger

I fairness to Richard Murphy he only supports a rise in MPs pay if it is linked to a ban on outside earnings.

My own solution would be a ban on outside earnings, the replacement of most expenses scams by offering MPs from outside of London a council flat and civil servant assistance and the pegging of MPs (and ministers) salaries to a simple multiplier of average household income before tax.

None of which will ever happen.

shinsei67

You really don't think that dealing with the myriad problems your constituents have involves any skill, hardworking or experience at all?

Justin

If there are any geniuses in the current parliament it would seem they are keeping their heads down and their mouths shut.

I'd argue that MPs don't deal with constituents' problems through the summoning of a higher IQ. Firstly they have staff. Then they have access to information and the ears of people us lower lifeforms don't. This access is a product of the prestige of being an MP not a genius.

Dorries, Duncan Smith, Mensch, Clegg - they got where they are via their connections not by emulating Stephen Hawking.

John H

Lurking in that graph are a couple of trends that may help explain both MPs' perception that they are hard done by, and the public perception that they are greedy grafters.

Looking at the graph, back in the late 1970s MPs' pay was only just over half average earnings. So MPs are a lot better off, relative to their constituents, than they were 30 years ago.

However, over the past 15 years MPs pay has declined slightly relative to average earnings, from over 3x the average to around 2.7x. So MPs - most of whom will only have been around for that time or less - probably feel a bit hard done by. This is especially the case given that they are more likely to compare themselves with richer people, whose incomes have (I would guess) increased by rather more than the average. Add to that the financial squeeze resulting from the expenses scandal, and the MPs' self-pity becomes more comprehensible...

Metatone

Big issue with MPs overall has been and continues to be a lack of skill with statistics and other methods of reasoning. Particular subject areas of concern are still (25 years after it was first being raised) science and technology.

Now it's hard to fix this looking at individuals, but maybe higher pay after you pass some statistics and reasoning classes? Michael Gove should be first to take the course.

Robert

I largely agree with you, but I have concerns about this:

Thirdly, there's a danger that paying MPs more will crowd out the intrinsic motive of "public service." Do we really want MPs who are only motivated by cold hard cash?

Try that again but replace "MPs" with "teachers", "nurses", "social workers", etc. This line of argument is frequently used to put downward pressure on their wages. "You should be doing it for the love," they're told—but love don't pay the rent.

Rahul

Here is a question for discussion: would we get more independent candidates (and possibly MPs) with higher salaries? And given centralisation of power will it matter for either legislative performance or executive scrutiny? My hypothesis is "yes" and "no".

rogerh

I agree they are not worth more. Parliament seems an extremely inefficient zero-sum game. Legislation and regulation is of risible quality, defects remain unfixed for decades. Time-wasting game-playing is rife, progress? is glacial.

Parliament is not like a normal business, the idea of hiring real talent is laughable - what executives worth £200K/y+ would go near the place, their talent would be wasted entirely. No, leave it to numpties - until a chainsaw is taken to the entire political system from the top down. But, be careful what you wish for...

guthrie

Did new labour not try recruiting various ex-finance and other such folk to work in government? I thought most of them left after a year or two. I don't know exactly why, but given that most were already rich from previous activities it probably wasn't the lack of money. Maybe they found that seeing how the sausage is made isn't there thing, or that they couldn't have the power they were used to in their own field of business?
Therefore merely paying MP's more would be fairly pointless.

I would support increased wages if you banned outside work.

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