What price an MP?

In the wake of the cash for access scandal there has been much comment about MPs remuneration and whether they should have incomes beyond their role as MPs.

The various comments by Sir Malcolm Rifkind – the free time he had on his hands; dismissing his salary of £67,000; his right to have a higher standard of living given his professional background etc. – put paid to his political career and we await to see what happens to Jack Straw.

The arguments for raising the pay of MPs are familiar, i.e. in order to get the brightest and best candidates you need to pay more, or you can’t expect talented people who would otherwise go to the City or the Bar to sacrifice themselves and their living standards and manage on an MPs salary.

But the logic of the market cannot be applied to the role of a Member of Parliament. This is a highly privileged position which is essentially about access and proximity to power.

This is what often gets missed when the role of an MP is compared to any other job in financial terms.

Much can be made about public service but the role is essentially about power and everyone who puts themselves forward to become an MP in the Palace of Westminster are well aware of this.

That’s why I don’t buy the ‘logic of the market’ arguments. If MPs choose to use their privileged position to line their own pockets or feel put out that they are not earning what other ‘high-fliers’ earn, then they are in the wrong place and should look for employment elsewhere.