The real cost of our MPs: £1m a day
They soak up £366m a year, their workload’s halved and expense claims have doubled. It’s time to start axing MPs, says David Craig
Now that they've been caught fiddling their expenses, our MPs have come up with new and more subtle ways of filling their bank accounts. First, they want us to give them each about £23,000 a year, tax-free, for their supposed 'expenses' without having to show any receipts. Second, in exchange for allowing a supposedly ‘independent’ body to set their salaries, they are demanding a pay increase of around £15,000 a year.
Yet while pleading poverty, our MPs seem to forget that they already receive more than £60,000 a year for just 34 weeks’ work and enjoy the most generous pension scheme in Britain. An ordinary person would have to put an incredible £50,000 each year into their pension savings to receive the same pension benefits as an MP.
If our MPs were hugely overworked, their massive remuneration might be justified. However, each year they actually have less and less to do.
When this Government swept to power in May 1997, less than half our legislation was initiated and authored in the EU. By 2001 this had reached 55 per cent and, according to an answer given in 2007 in the German parliament (the UK Government has refused to provide the same information), 84 per cent of their legislation now comes directly from the EU.
Because our Prime Minister has rushed into signing the EU Constitution-by-another-name without asking our permission, more powers will soon move to Brussels, leaving even less work for our MPs.
If you owned a corner shop and you lost more than half of your customers, you might consider reducing your staff and even paying yourself slightly less. Yet our leaders have never contemplated cutting their numbers to match their greatly reduced workload.
In the last five years alone, the amount of money our MPs have taken in salaries and expenses has gone up by a satisfying (for them) 64 per cent, from less than £100m in 2001–02 to over £155m in 2006–07, while the number of expense claims submitted by MPs has almost doubled from just over 30,000 a year to close to 60,000. At the same time, the number of staff employed to help our MPs do less and less work has gone up from around 1,800 to over 2,500.
In addition to the money paid directly to MPs for salaries and expenses, we also pay another £210m a year for administration, support services and subsidised food and drink at Westminster.
The total cost to us of our MPs is now more than £366m a year. If we reduced their numbers to match the halving of their workload, we could save around £180m a year. We could then shove the remainder back into Westminster, sell off their luxurious overspill quarters in Portcullis House and use the money raised to improve living standards of the million poorest pensioners. ·
Comments are now closed on this article