The MPs’ salary sideshow: let’s focus on the real issues
For immediate release: Friday 5 July 12:00
The Electoral Reform Society is urging politicians of all parties, as well as the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA), to stop worrying about MPs’ pay and concentrate on ensuring that backbench MPs are able to do their job in holding the executive to account.
Katie Ghose, chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:
“The fuss over MPs’ pay is a sideshow. There are real and pressing problems around how our representative democracy is funded, but these don’t include the precise size of MPs’ pay packets.
“We should be focusing more on how to make sure that our representatives are able to do the best job possible. This means they need to have adequate resources at their disposal to fulfil their dual roles as both legislators and constituency MPs. Constituency work now takes up more than half their working time. Considering the average MP’s week amounts to 69 working hours and 10 hours of travel, that’s an awful lot of casework.
“When MPs do manage to get to Westminster they find they are less supported than in many other countries. In the US, members of Congress can call on the services of three congressional support agencies. Just one of these – the Congressional Research Service – has 700 employees and a budget in excess of $100m a year. Perhaps we should consider scaling up resources in Westminster.
“And finally it means ensuring that MPs are able to balance their working lives with their personal lives. For instance there is currently no provision for MPs to have maternity or paternity pay, owing to the fact they are officially self-employed.
“MPs need to be able to do their jobs properly. The fuss over their salaries isn’t helping.”