Friday, May 15, 2009

Blame Thatcher, part 362,673,456

Congratulations to Martin Kettle in the Guardian for figuring out how to blame Margaret Thatcher (and Rupert Murdoch) for the MPs' expenses scandal.

In 1983, when Gordon Brown first went to the Commons, an MP earned just over £15,000. It was an absurdly low figure even then. So what did those who could have changed the system do? They did nothing. Margaret Thatcher refused to give MPs the increase they needed or the framework for future salary review that would have put parliamentary financing on a defensible basis. And John Major, Tony Blair and Brown all followed her lead. Today's £65,000 parliamentary salary is better in real terms than 1983, and it is certainly a good income, but it is not high when compared with legislators in many other countries, or with the professions with whom MPs might sensibly be compared.
I'm not sure about the last part, though. Only the very best of the profession with which MPs might sensibly be compared earn £1,000 a night, and they generally have to split their fee with the agency.

4 comments:

Mark Wadsworth said...

To be fair, the expenses system was introduced under Thatcher, but this does not excuse Labour from not having done anything about it since 1997.

Peter Risdon said...

There should be an expenses system; that isn't the problem.

The problem is twofold:

1. MPs set different rules for themselves to the rest of the population. If the Revenue wouldn't accept an expense in my accounts then it should not be available to MPs.

2. Even with greater scope for claiming, they've been scamming and skimming.

JuliaM said...

"Only the very best of the profession with which MPs might sensibly be compared earn £1,000 a night, and they generally have to split their fee with the agency."

Plus, if they are caught scamming their 'agency', isn't the usual punishment a swift and brutal application of the pimp hand..?

cabalamat said...

Only the very best of the profession with which MPs might sensibly be compared earn £1,000 a night, and they generally have to split their fee with the agency.I think that's grossly unfair -- most prostitutes don't steal from their customers.