Tuesday 23 June 2009

Aftermath of the Moat

So much has been said about MP's expenses. A couple of thoughts from a different angle..

a) second jobs. One of Brown's responses to the scandal was to introduce a new set of rules about second jobs, with the intention of discouraging them. This was partisan - I suppose most Labour MPs couldn't get a second job which is why they disapprove of them. Seriouusly, it is surely better to have some MPs with experience of the real world rather than just being political clones or media tarts. I hope a new administration would actually promote second jobs for MPs.

b) creating an independent parliamentary regulator. The trouble is that an independent regulator means that no-one will be responsible for anything. The culture of "it's within the rules" will be emphasised; the regulator can't be that independent because it will be appointed (even if indirectly) by the Government; its members will likely want future quango roles. This approach is typical of so much delegation of miniterial responsibility to outside agencies. It means the buck is eternally passed.

Much better to have full disclosure of payments and to make MPs responsible and accountable. I repeat my earlier view: a closing Parliament should set the salaries for the next parliament - as the MPs would immediately be facing election. Expenses should be radically simplified to be consistent with normal overnight stays in business. Salaries should be increased, but to compensate there should be fewer MPs. And they should have a normal rather than a supernormal pension scheme to help them understand the real world.

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