8th May 2012
Sir Ian Kennedy
London SW1E 5BH
Dear Sir Ian
MPs’ Salaries In the age-old debates on MPs’ Salaries & “Allowances” - which began with former prime ministers Heath and Thatcher in the 1970s and 1980s - you will see that they could not bring themselves to award an increase in salary because it would have kicked up a major political row with the Westminster media pack. So they devised the “Allowance” system……
Fast forward forty years and it was exactly the same reasons which stopped Messrs Brown, Cameron & Clegg at the height of the Expenses row from righting that wrong. I was an MP from 1997-2013. My salary and benefits which I received pre-1997 in my media career were much higher than the salary I “won” in 1997.
I always argued that the “allowance” system was a cop out: it is. By far the simplest solution in 2009 would have been to have done away with the Allowance system all together and to have increased an MP’s salary from c£65k p.a. to c£100k p.a.
With Allowances most MPs received c£65k plus c£24k tax free (so in effect with tax their salaries were £65k + £36K = £101k p.a.). In your deliberations, and given the new allowance system has not been overwhelmingly successful and cost far too much to administer, you might reflect on why an MP cannot choose, given they are over 18, how they travel to work and where and how they live. Most people in work I know have that choice.
As an MP, I worked 80-100 hours a week including Saturdays and sometimes a part of Sunday. I received 500 emails a day and my staff simply struggled to keep up. No-one really understands what an MP does and it is time that they were recompensed for the long hours and the huge duress which this creates in their family lives. Please, please take a bold decision and do away with the Allowance system. Give MPs a proper salary and let them decide how they should live their lives.