Tuesday, 30 May 2023

No satisfactory answers to MPs expenses

We are in a recession. The government has rolled out the new budget, saying that we will be in debt for quite a well.  In order to offset those debts, they needed to cut spending.  This includes Parliamentary spending.  Due to the furor over the MP second home allowance scheme, Gordon Brown has decided that MPs should be expensed for showing up to work. He will put it up to a vote next week but there is much opposition to it.  What’s the answer?  There are many arguments but nothing is appealing to everyone.  And, of course, it only frustrates the public because it makes the politicians look excessively greedy.

First of all, some would argue that these politicians should be thankful they have a job.  If they decide to walk out on their jobs now, where would they go for employment?  Do they think they can step into any position out there?  It’s possible some companies might sack several employees just to get this one politician cum whatever.  The politicians argue that they need to be adequately compensated for working long, anti-social hours.  They are getting a small raise, despite many other people in industry taking a pay freeze.  They knew what their salaries were going to be when they went into politics.  Don’t tell me that it was the thought of the expense allowances that drew them to their jobs.  Their pay is not in the bottom bracket, nor is it in the top bracket.  But it is a very good-paying job.  Yes, they work long, hard hours; but so do doctors, and many of them are getting much lower salaries.  If doctors do something wrong, they could lose their licenses.  When politicians do something wrong, do they step down?

One argument is that if we don’t raise their pay, many good politicians will decide to leave, making room for multimillionaires who are out of touch with people or “anoraks” who just want to be MPs for the sake of it.  Hmmm.  These politicians don’t believe in their work enough that they would allow an incompetent to take their place?

How about Gordon Brown’s idea that the flat-rate daily fee would encourage more MPs to show up for work.  Does that suggest that many MPs don’t?  Mr. Laurence Robertson fears that some MPs might clock in and then go off and play golf.  It is very telling of what MPs do in their spare time. 

Mr. Robertson doesn’t want to be “poorer”, which would be the case if they decide to scrap the second-home allowance.  Others argue that the “clocking-in” scheme means that the MPs get paid, just for showing up, regardless of whether or not they do work.  This is less transparent than if they had to provide receipts showing their actual expenses.  A good argument, except that the receipts may all be legit, but the rules allowing such expenses are much too liberal.

It’s starting to appear that the best plan would be to give them a raise and scrap all expenses.  However, the amount of the raise is debatable.  It should not be anywhere near the amount of the allowance.  That defeats the purpose of this expense issue.  But whatever raise it should be, they are getting a little now.  Any more should wait until they get us out of this recession.  They helped to create it, so freeze their pay and get us out of this mess first before asking for more money.

Mr. Cameron said that in order to get through this recession, the UK must prepare for a “major culture change”.  So, let the politicians, our public leaders, lead by example.  They need to cut costs in Parliament.  If they feel they can’t live on their salaries, maybe they should start learning how to live within their means.  Must they have those big mansions in order to advertise their prosperity?  They are amongst those who took out those big mortgages when times were good, but they need not worry about losing their homes because the taxpayers are paying it for them.  If they can’t live within their means, don’t lecture to others about it.

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