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'I support MPs' 1st class train travel as long as it's at a 1st class price' blog
in Martin's blogs & appearances & MoneySavingExpert in the news
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Former_MSE_Penelope Former MSE
This is the discussion to link on the back of Martin's blog. Please read the blog first, as this discussion follows it.
Read Martin's "I support MPs' 1st class train travel as long as it's at a 1st class price" Blog.
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I am Italian. Since the UK is not the country where I vote (although my family pays taxes here, of course), I don't think I am entitled to judge other countries' institutions and the way they work, because sometimes when you do that you tend to miss several contextual and historical factors.
However, this post is more about how the basics of political systems should work, and in this respect I would like to say that I fully agree with Martin.
In particular, the main point that we need (in any country) politicians we can rely on and trust is perfect.
Their cost is a relatively minor problem, as pointed out, on the total potential value of what they do.
Of course, they must be honorable and work following the law (and producing it...) and problems arise when they get around it.
Yet, we should always consider the risk of mixing up things (ie: some of them bent the law THUS they are all thieves, etc). For example, last year I was surprised by the people's reaction (fostered by media, obviously...) that turned out in many people not going to vote. Then you cannot complain if extremists take some power (with the same votes of the past...but with an higher relatively percentage) and if this year for the new election they will take, as the democratic rules allow them to do, more visibility and even more money for their campaign.
History in this sense matters and should teach all of us something...and of course it never does.
Similarly, when you don't pay politicians a fair amount of money (that has to be comparable with other good jobs), then you tend to produce a situation where good people don't run for the parliament and you have a parliament plenty of low level politicians (the Italian example, both in the left and in the right parties, is perfect, obviously).
Then, again, you cannot complain if the Country is governed by a parliament of mediocre people.
And so on and so forth. Do we really want our national airplanes to be driven by terrible pilots just because we want to save few penny on the total???
Nevertheless, even the best control system needs to allow for free agency and to leave room for minor mistakes. The alternatively is to have a parliament of bureaucrats...that it is maybe even worse than few politicians getting around the law for "few" pennies...as the reality (and the problems) of the European Parliament should teach us...
Good post, Martin.
"I think it’s time we linked MPs salaries to another relevant profession. They’re paid less than GPs or judges and I think we want a similar caliber of people. One easy route would be to link their salary to district judges which is about £120,000 – nearly double what MPs currently earn."
Firstly, you're making the assumption that money buys competence. I think the bankers proved that concept wrong. Secondly, you seem to have randomly picked GPs and judges as being people of high calibre. Nurses earn ~£25,000; are they of an undesirable calibre?
If MPs were paid £120k they'd be in the top 1% of earners. I think that's an inappropriate place to put people who are meant to be representatives of society. Pay them the average or median salary of professionals.
Though I don't necessarily agree with giving them a set amount to spend on various categories, this would be open to abuse...
Most MPs are probably booked up weeks if not months in advance, so what's wrong with shopping for the best priced tickets early? :cool:
They get paid what they get paid, so they should all learn to live within that for day-to-day needs. I think that's probably what got on peoples nerves, if we were to abuse our own companies expense systems for personal gain, we would soon be facing a telling off.
At least it's all out in the open now, but it's time for them to move on...
You do talk a lot of common sense!
I totally agree that to get the best and brightest to stand then you do need to pay them more than the entry wage for a graduate into Goldman Sachs!
If we slashed their numbers to 500, introduced the expenses capped outlined and deducted from their salaries any earnings from other sources (so we aren't paying for them to get lucrative jobs outside parliament as well) - I'm sure the cost would be about the same as they are today.
A set of principles based rules would also mean the 80 people now employed to administer and audit their expenses can do something more constructive.
i don't think it should be about the 'calibre' of people - you obviously want the highest calibre of person for whichever job they're doing - the job does not define the calibre - there are plenty of people who have undesirable qualities in all professions - doesn't mean the profession as a whole is of a poor calibre.
the point is that being an MP is a job with a very high level of responsibility and accountability - these people make decisions that affect all our lives and their pay should reflect that. many other jobs are carried out with much greater levels of supervision (e.g. nursing), hence why the salaries are lower.
i agree that MPs should be paid higher salaries (but perhaps not as high as £120 grand), and have flat rate expenses, like most public servants (which is what they are), all transparent and published, then the temptation to cheat would be much lower.
This would mean that there is no such thing as a second home allowance. MP's primary home should be in their constituency and they can stay in a hotel when parliament is sitting. They could get a pretty good hotel for £150 per night which is the equivalent of the maximum second home allowance averaged over the total number of days the house of commons sat last year.
However I can't see allowances coming in. I've seen this suggested in companies, where managers can see that their staff only have an incentive to claim everything they can get away with and have advocated reasonable allowances instead. Unfortunately many people get hung up the fact that some people will live frugally and pocket the reminder of the allowance. They prefer to pay much more overall than allow a few to "make money" from the system. Utterly stupid, but I think endless research shows that humans often make this kind of decision.
Yes, if you are ever daft enough to choose to be an MP Martin, I'd definitely vote for you.