Paying MPs well is no guarantee of quality. Look at Kenya, whose representatives are some of the highest paid in the world: corruption rife, and they voted themselves $120,000 salaries earlier this year. (Faced with public outcry they did drop this to $75,000pa, compensated by a $58,000 one-off car allowance. The average income of their constituents is $1,800.)
In Britain, many of our MPs work hard, spend a great deal of time away from their families, have limited job security and could earn more in the private sector. Join the club.
The suggestion from Westminster’s financial watchdog is that MPs accept a one-off 11 per cent pay increase in 2015, from £66,396 to £74,000, after which their salaries would rise in line with UK average earnings. But in return they should surrender taxpayer-funded perks such as televisions in their second homes, evening taxis and £15 for evening meals, as well as final salary pensions. Yesterday, though, MPs launched a battle to keep these allowances (page 5).
Most MPs are required to run two homes, so I can’t get too worked up about (say) letting them claim contents insurance on the second. But cracking down on hotels and taxis is fine – London has one of the best public transport systems in the world. And as for hospitality tea and biscuits, buy your own, or do without. Most professionals face stricter expenses regimes and aren’t able to book a hotel or evening meal at company expense if they work late.
As for those MPs who carp about the extra bureaucracy and £6.2m running costs of Ipsa, citing these as reason to abolish the expenses watchdog: why do they think such stringent policing is in place? That’s the price of public trust.
Thanks for the support for the Back to School campaign, launched by i and charity Future First last week. Its goals are long-term, but I’m pleased to report that almost 2,500 people have already signed up to return to their old state schools. To join, or to read all of our coverage, you can visit ind.pn/backtoschool.