MPs’ pay and a race to the bottom

The pay rise is a step too far, and MPs would be advised to legislate briefly and quickly to stop it

Share

MPs want to feed, clothe and house their children. At the taxpayer’s expense. How dare they?

Have they no shame? Reports that the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority has accepted not only claims for larger accommodation from MPs with children, but also claims for MPs’ children’s travel, has prompted another spasm of condemnation. But such breathless outrage is as unfair as it is unhealthy.

The Independent accepts that MPs handled their expenses badly until they were dragged into the daylight by a combination of Freedom of Information law and a whistleblower in 2009. The justified outrage at those revelations resulted in a tightening of the rules, and in the handing over of responsibility for those rules and for MPs’ pay to a new body. It was Ipsa, not MPs themselves, which proposed that MPs should have a pay rise of £10,000 a year. And it was Ipsa that agreed the reimbursement of some additional expenses incurred by MPs with children.

The pay rise is a step too far, and MPs would be advised to legislate briefly and quickly to stop it. But the additional payments for children are justified. We ask a great deal of the families of MPs, most of whom represent constituencies outside London and must live in two places. And we should want people with families to be MPs.

MPs are well paid in relation to average incomes. Their £66,000 salary is two-and-a-half times the median for full-time workers. That is a generous level. But the hostility towards MPs’ pay and to their legitimate expenses, which are now paid for receipted payments only, is often unreasonable.

In our view, the present salary is about right, and makes it harder for MPs to argue that they need to take on second jobs. But much of public opinion seems to take the more extreme position that a single pound given to any politician would be too much. Such a stance is foolish, destructive and also wrong.

Despite the frailties of the previous expenses system, politicians are not a morally deficient class of person. Most are motivated, in large part, by the ideal of public service. If we want democracy, then we have to pay for it – and that includes taking account of the children.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A luxury beauty house with a nu...

Recruitment Genius: Housekeepers - Immediate Start

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This company are currently recruiting new exp...

Recruitment Genius: Head Concierge

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...

Recruitment Genius: Content, SEO and PPC Executive

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Clean energy should be our mission to the moon

Martin Rees
Angela Merkel and David Cameron say goodbye in the Bundeskanzleramt after their meeting in Berlin, Germany, 29 May 2015  

The complacency of Europhiles could lose them the referendum

Steve Richards
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral