Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Are MPs paid enough?

MPs are currently paid £64,766.

The current median average salary in the UK is £25,123.

So MPs earn more than 2.5 times the average salary. I know that they are expected to live in and commute between two separate places but they are given an allowance to cover the cost of the second home (if they live far enough away from Westminster) and also given expenses to cover the cost of travel between the two places. I also know that there are likely to be some changes to the regime around this but I am sure that MPs will still have an allowance for travel and accommodation that will be adequate.

There seem to be a number of people who think that MPs are actually underpaid and should earn more. Perhaps £100,000 or more from what I have read.

I am afraid I completely disagree. I know that some MPs (and prospective MPs) could earn more in their former professions but frankly, becoming an MP is about far more than the money. For someone from an average background the salary would be a huge increase. For those from more wealthy backgrounds it may be a salary cut. That's just the way it is.

There are all sorts of perks associated with become an MP which those seeking to enter parliament are well aware of and are outside of any financial incentive. Here are a few I thought of earlier (I am sure there are lots more):

  • Name in "Who's Who" for life (Matthew Parris cites this as one of the best things about becoming an MP!)
  • Getting on TV and radio frequently
  • Ability to affect legislation
  • Being a VIP in your constituency
  • Having the ear of the most powerful people in the country
  • Parliamentary privilege
  • Great springboard to further opportunities post parliament

MPs are paid more than enough in my view. If someone is deterred from entering parliament because 2.5x the median average salary is not enough for them then they are probably not right to become an MP in the first place.


John said...

I wonder what Kelly will say - hopefully rental for a family +1 - ie if you have three kids then say four-bedroom flat (same as someone single can have one bed flat) - 2nd class rail fares or something a bit more exotic for various Scottish MPs.

Cardinal Richelieu's mole said...

Yet pay ought to reflect skill, expertise, commitment demanded etc..

The difficulty with that notion is that those qualities are very variable in fact as between different MPs.

Yet absent some fair (!) system of performance-related pay for each one, MPs might be considered to need skills on a par with, say, a decent professional in a serious occupation - so solicitor, accountant etc.. By comparision, they are then not well-paid now.

Yet the comparision might appropriately be "glorified social worker" and (avoiding debate on what social workers are worth), they are generously rewarded.

As the ones we have now can be seen to be expense claimers, busily troughing in place of busily holding this rotten government to account, standing by as the country has gone to hell, it is they who should be paying us rather than the other way around.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Agreed. I ran a Fun Online Poll on what the salary should be (inclusive of expenses) and it came out at £60,000 or so.

That is more than adequate to run one-and-a-half homes.

The point is, there is a market rate for everything. Seeing as for every seat there are five or six candidates, and within each party five or ten people battle it out to become the candidate in the first place, there is clearly no shortage of people who want to be MPs.

So their salary should drop and drop until we reach the stage where only one or two people are trying to become the candidate for each party.

Cardinal Richelieu's mole said...

Another point - on the Abbot and Portillo show (still annoyingly interrupted by the Neal person) - Miguel said that there is a notion that the present difficulties will lead to an improvement in the people entering politics but that this was wrong. We will end up with parliamentarians who are either ex-think tank apparatchiks, ignorant of the "real world" and driven by personal ambition to the exclusion of purer motives and cares, or millionaires indulging their hobby.

Both bleak prospects if those groups appear in large numbers and dreadful if that is all we end up with. A decent financial reward would not necessarily help attract decent others, but for taxpayers to be parsimonious will be self-defeating.