Sunday, 10 May 2009

Sinking feeling

Clearly MPs' have been regarding their extensive allowances as rightful supplements in lieu of pay. But this is not the way the Green Book says they should be treated.

Lord Naseby, who used to sit on the body recommending MPs' pay, says the situation is getting serious. If public reaction continues to get worse Parliament may have to be dissolved and a general election called, he says today.

An early date for an election might get heads together to sort out a solution. But although it would make hustings interesting, there would be small point in each party standing on rival proposals on pay. A new system should appear to be accepted by all.

The committee on standards in public life, chaired by former parliamentary secretary Sir Christopher Kelly, has expelled MPs from its pay enquiry due to 'actual or perceived conflicts of interest'. The remaining members are senior public servants and there is no certainty when they'll deliver their report.

Perhaps an external body including 'people's representatives' is needed for an acceptable solution. But with such an intractable politically-charged problem, anyone from 'the people' willing to add a democratic stamp must also expect their name to end up Mudd.

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