Saturday, 28 February 2015

bun fights at the not-OK corral


I've been watching that television series about the House of Commons.

Add some recent news coverage exchanges from the floor of the House and extracts from the new Caroline Lucas book. Mix with a few of the expense listings from public record.

It continues to paint a fairly dismal picture of the State we're in.

Current news has touched on the sufficiency of MP salaries. At least one MP appeared to not notice he even had a salary from Parliament.

I decided to take a look at MP salary and expense turnover. By casually pivoting the MP IPSA expense records (I used 2013) the average expense amount claimed by an MP appears around £38k per annum, plus generally another £120k for payroll for their staff.

The biggest single item is still accommodation/rent at an average of £8.7k (although for those that claim it is closer to £16k) and office rental at an average of £6.1k. I've included a quick screeengrab from a small part of my Excel on the left.

If we add the £67k salary and the average expenses of £38k together, we're hovering at just over £100k of turnover per MP, before the addition of their staff allowance of apparently around £120k.

I know some MPs are very hard working, but whenever we peek inside, we cannot avoid the impression of a boys' school misbehaviour of braying and paper waving in the Commons.

Add the whips archaic bullying tactics to herd MPs through the voting lobbies instead of having electronic voting. There's a huge industry of paper-based Bills without decent summaries.

The recent TV show illustration included MPs literally camping out in offices for days to get to the front of the line to get a slot for a private member's Bill. Those that get a slot at Prime Minister's Question time are 'encouraged' to ask questions that mean the Prime Minister can trot out polemic.

The Friday Private Member Bills are bullied and traded with the threat of no support or filibustering to talk them out of time if they won't play along.

I know we all call it a democracy and the obvious argument is that it could all be a lot worse.

Agreed it could be a lot worse, but that's no argument to not make it a lot better. It would seem that it is still in the vested interests of those in power to keep it the same.

Cameron has already stated that even if the main Parliament buildings requires refurbishment, he will want to keep it largely as it is. No semi-circular chamber and e-voting when the two party sword-waving serves him and his class so well.

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