Letters: MPs’ laughable pay claims

These letters appear in the print edition of The Independent, 12 July, 2013


I totally disagree with Andrew Grice (3 July) who argues that MPs deserve a £10,000 pay rise. MPs have for far too long regarded themselves as meriting special treatment. They have given themselves easily the best pension rights of any group in our society, they permit no performance assessment, they did their utmost to prevent the details of their taxpayer-funded expenses becoming public, and many treat their allegedly full-time job as if it were merely part-time.

We are now told they deserve a large pay rise because they could earn much more money in the private sector. In any other job, those making such a case would be laughed at or ignored. Earnings are largely determined by the law of supply and demand. Numerous people want to become MPs; that is an argument for reducing their pay.

The notion that paying MPs much more would lead to higher-quality MPs is specious. Most of those benefiting from the pay rise would be the same low-quality individuals who are currently MPs, plus those lured into Parliament by high earnings rather than dedication to the public good.

Professor Michael W Eysenck, London SW20

I went to my boss and asked him for a 10 per cent pay rise. I told him that I would be taking a few other jobs so might not be around all the time I am paid for. After all, I need experience of how others work to be able to do my job properly.

As we have a busy evening shift I also told him that we should have bars in our workplace. A wee drink helps make work more interesting.

I said that even if he quadrupled my salary to £70,000 a year I could not afford my drink and meals in the restaurant and would need a subsidy so I could eat foie gras and drink malt whisky.

What he said is unprintable. I took it as a no.

In the interests of efficiency in these hard times, at the next election all candidates should competitively tender and state the salary they would accept for the job, undertake to be available to do it full time and while sober and to pay for their own burgers from McDonalds.

Andrew Pring, Gillingham, Dorset

Could state pensioners and people on benefits please have an Independent Standards Authority on the lines of that which cares for our MPs?

Bill Fletcher, Cirencester, Gloucestershire

Commons ‘veto’ vote will mean a Tory England

The proposed voting reforms for English-only matters in Parliament will, if Labour wins the next election, probably result in no government in England for the duration of that parliament. Every government bill on English matters will be defeated,

Another result is that a large part of northern England will be effectively disenfranchised for ever; England will have one-party government in perpetuity.

It is also wrong to assume that England-only decisions do not affect the smaller component parts of the UK. While we in the rest of Britain are to some extent insulated from the depredations of Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt and others, we are by no means immune. Geographic proximity, and small relative size, combined with interlinked institutions, mean that there is a great deal of underlying pressure to conform to Westminster decisions.

Margaret Thatcher is largely responsible for devolution because of the way she managed to alienate the Scots and the Welsh. David Cameron obviously wants to finish the job.

Malcolm Calvert, Holyhead, Anglesey

Let HS2 stop on the way

I am disappointed that Chris Blackhurst has joined Peter Mandelson and other commentators in criticising the HS2 project (5 July).

However, the promoters of HS2 have only themselves to blame in not being flexible enough for the project to offer benefits to those along its path, as well as near its destinations. Contrast the opposition to HS2 by Cherwell District Council in Oxfordshire with its enthusiastic endorsement of the East-West Rail project which will eventually link Oxford and Cambridge via Bicester.

In HS1 and the 140mph Javelin services to mid and east Kent we already have a model where a service running on a “classic” railway uses a high-speed line to complete the journey to its urban destination. Such a popular, cost-effective solution to the likely overcrowding of the Chiltern Railways routes to Marylebone could be easily achieved with an interchange near Bicester or Aylesbury.

Such a more flexible approach would see HS2 as part of a railway network in the Home Counties and not simply as something “dropped from Mars”.

Peter Chivall, Peterborough

Vaughn Clarke is being disingenuous with his comment that HS2 will go to Birmingham airport (letter, 11 July). It will, but not to the present Birmingham International Station. Instead, a new station will be built on the far side of the runway. How the two will be connected is unclear, but the (needless) expense will undoubtedly be enormous.

As important as where HS2 goes is where it doesn’t go. Here in Coventry (eighth largest city in England) we currently enjoy an excellent fast service to London: does anybody really think that will last, once the Birmingham trains start to pass us by?

It is perfectly possible to be in favour of all the things the politicians promise from HS2 and still oppose it on the grounds that the proposed route is ludicrous, since it doesn’t connect anywhere after leaving Euston station.

Gillian Ball, Coventry

Devalued honours

Andy Murray’s is just the latest bandwagon that our dear Prime Minister has jumped on, all in the vain hope of making himself popular. John Boylan (Letters, 9 July) is quite right in saying that the honours system has become devalued. In fact, that happened many years ago, as my grandfather realised when he declined a knighthood just for doing his job as a civil servant – no doubt much to my grandmother’s annoyance.

Indeed, why should people expect honours for doing their usually very well paid jobs? Civil servants, politicians, bankers and business people are already well rewarded without the state heaping dubious honours on them. The system is occasionally exposed for what it is when one of the recipients blots their copybook and has his or her honour removed. 

Actors, comedians and singers are well enough known and rewarded without having “Sir” or “Dame” shoved in front of their names. Sportsmen are normally young, and otherwise immature, when saddled with a title. Which means more to them: an Olympic medal, a world title or this appendage which the state feels duty-bound to add ?

The only people worth honouring are those who are these days referred to as “unsung heroes”, who do what they do for the benefit of others and without hope or expectation of reward.

Michael Hart, Osmington, Dorset

Our duty to Snowden

We should be grateful to Edward Snowden for revealing that all of us, including our representatives in key international negotiations, are routinely spied on by American intelligence.

We should be sympathetic to his search for political asylum, because his is a political gesture not an act of espionage, and also because we have seen the cruel and inhuman treatment meted out to other whistleblowers such as Bradley Manning.

We should be horrified by the breach of the President of Bolivia’s diplomatic immunity: we rely on international law for the safety of our own ministers and missions.

We should cease to tolerate a USA which respects and protects the human rights of its own citizens but not those of other humans around the world; an America which kills, kidnaps, and tortures and which holds people in prison indefinitely, without trial, even when, by its own account, they have no case to answer.

Why the deafening silence? Is it that we no longer care? Is it that we are disabled by our complicity? Or are we afraid?

Sir Mark Jones, Oxford

Why did no one save deportee?

Your report (10 July) on the tragic death of the deportee Jimmy Mubenga aboard a British Airways flight makes no mention of whether any passenger or member of the crew objected to, or attempted to intervene in, what was in fact an extended unlawful killing taking place in front of their eyes.

Or perhaps they were so overawed by G4S uniforms that they made no objection or attempt to come to his aid and prevent the continuing and fatal distress of Mr Mubenga? In which case we might wonder how well they are sleeping at night?

Brian Mitchell, Cambridge

Modern manners

Isaac Atwal complains (Letters, 10 July) about supermarket customers who don’t respond to a “Hello, how are you?” If only. Mostly these days I’m on the receiving end of what I’ve concluded must be parsed as “You all right?”, delivered in sub-Valley Girl/Estuarine interrogatory, often through a mouthful of chewing gum. 

I suppose it’s nice of them to ask, but I never get the feeling that they expect a reply, much less care about what my reply might be. So I nod, and smile, and carry on talking on my mobile.

Edward Collier, Cheltenham,  Gloucestershire

As we were in a quiet carriage I asked a young man to turn the volume down on his headphones: “Australia 229 for 9,” he responded.

Dr John Doherty, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire

Bullfight cruelty

Why is The Independent glorifying the Running of the Bulls (“So what’s your beef?”, 11 July)? At the end of the frightening and hazardous chase through the streets of Pamplona, the bulls face a long and torturous death in the bullring. The reality of this “tradition” is shown in graphic detail in a new film by the League Against Cruel Sports.

Kevin Mutimer, London SE6


Both Archie Bland (10 July) and Grace Dent (11 July), while professing indifference towards news of royal babies, nevertheless find them valuable column-fodder.

Brian Mayes, Edinburgh

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