MPs ought to be awarded a 23% pay rise, taking their salaries to £76,000, a committee of senior members chaired by Michael Martin, the Speaker, is set to recommend this week.
The MPs believe they are underpaid compared with managers in the public sector.
They are ready to put off their pay rise, however, until after the next election to avoid provoking voters at a time when other public sector workers are seeing increases capped at about 2.5%.
The consultants concluded that MPs’ salary of £61,820 does not adequately reward them in comparison with public-sector employees in middle to senior ranks, such as a police superintendent.
They earn more than £70,000, while private sector managers with equivalent responsibility are paid six-figure salaries. However, MPs also claim generous allowances.
Yes, there is that. If you factor in such perks as the £23,000 MPs can claim for a second home, or the £10,000 of taxpayers' money they can use to buy themselves a new kitchen, then I would imagine that the average police superintendent is left looking distinctly impoverished by comparison. Plus, being a police superintendent is a full-time job; if the officer doesn't turn up, he'll be fired. MPs, by contrast, can do as little work as they like, and face no sanctions. They can also easily augment their income with a second job, an option not available to the majority of workers, in either the public or the private sector. Most public sector managers don't get to set their own salary and perks either, do they?
And it's not as though the nation's MPs are actually scrounging a bare subsistence on the bread line. Consider this quote from another Sunday Times article, about John "Two Jags" Prescott:
The Prescotts reside – I use the word advisedly – in a grand former Salvation Army home on the outskirts of Hull, where he has been MP since 1970. Here, he is not a banana-skin politician or a working-class hero but an Englishman in his castle, complete with turrets, eight bedrooms, servants’ staircase and electric gates (needs must); which is not bad going for the son of a maid who failed his 11-plus.It might not be Dorneywood, but, as the journalist says, it isn't bad. In how many professions other than politics could a cretinous thug like John Prescott get anywhere close to being able to afford such a house?
The fact is that being an MP is extremely lucrative. Perhaps there are some people who are better paid, but these people are, in theory at least, highly qualified and highly skilled. MPs, by contrast, need, and sometimes have, no qualifications and no skills whatsoever. They may feel that they are equivalent to senior managers, but I'd wager that if they all set out to climb a conventional career ladder, a great many of them would remain stuck on the bottom rung, because they are essentially talentless people.
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe they are all polymaths, who would thrive in any environment. But if that is the case, then no one is forcing them to stay in politics. They are at liberty to resign their seats and seek a more profitable career whenever they want. That would be for the benefit of all, since it would mean that only those (very few) MPs who actually have public service at heart would be left. But of course, MPs know which side their bread is buttered on, they know that they're on to a damn good thing, and they wouldn't give up their seats on the gravy train for anything.