11 July 2013

"Money grubbing bastards"

Those, and similar sentiments, may spring to many minds when considering the news that the benevolent, open-handed folk of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority have recommended bumping up MPs' basic pay to £74,000 per annum. That's a hefty leap up from their current yearly remuneration of £66,396, an increase in over 10%, adding just shy of £4,942,600 to the cost of keeping our 650 tribunes in stockings and gin.  

Having been, for these past few years, a recipient of the waning pot of public doctoral funding, I can't throb with much sympathy for the House of Commons gannets, gobbling up the equivalent of three hundred and sixty three new stipends for pitiable, moth-gnawed scholars, or struggling public sector workers on low pay, who've seen no increases, while rising prices eat away at your already limited purchasing powers. 

One angle on the tale I've noticed folk have been neglecting: what will Holyrood do, if the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority's stonking increases are adopted? What reports there have been today adopt an abject tone of inevitability, with MSPs "set" to cash in along with their Westminster cronies.

The idea that MSPs are bound over to accept the IPSA recommendation to enrich themselves is a nonsense which should be speedily abandoned. Our tribunes in Edinburgh have no reason whatever to follow the IPSA in this indulgent, ill-time folly.

Under the Scotland Act 1998, statutory authority for setting salaries is invested in the parliament itself, whether by an Act of parliament, or by resolution.  In March 2002, a free vote of MSPs adopted a motion, still binding, which determined that decisions on any salary increases should be made by the Scottish Parliament's Corporate Body, increasing at the rate of 87.5% of Westminster salaries.  Only that motion and that convention lies between parliament and these unjustifiable increments. 

At present, the Scottish Parliament pay-scale is relatively more modest than Westminster, coming it at just over £58,000. Miles more than the median, stagnating national wage. We can be sure there'll be touchy tribunes, keen to support a parity of esteem between MSPs and MPs, who'll be keen to see these whopping increases reflected in Holyrood's butcher's bill. Such folk's self-interested pettifogging must be resisted. Money does not make the man, as they say, and certainly doesn't reflect the value of this tribune, or that parliament.  A chance - a rare chance - for Scottish parliamentarians to put some meat on the bare bones of Osborne's increasingly ironic cry that "we're all in it together" - and esteem themselves, modestly, at their proper value. After all...
Who steals my purse steals trash; 'tis something, nothing; 
'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands; 
But he that filches from me my good name 
Robs me of that which not enriches him, 
And makes me poor indeed.


  1. From a Scottish point of view it's as if Wastemonster is fattening itself up for slaughter in 2014. 8.4% of the cost of 1,500 Lords & MPs just to look after the Treasury, Foreign affairs and Defence when just 129 MSPs look after all the rest?

    Fortunately, since we have the power in 2014 to wield our own sword, Wastemonster is kindly guiding us to apply the cuts exactly where they are needed.

  2. LPW:
    'At present, the Scottish Parliament pay-scale is relatively more modest than Westminster, coming it at just over £58,000. Miles more than the median, stagnating national wage. '

    Yes the cry is if you pay peanuts you get monkeys, but we pay cashew nuts ad still get a lower order of primates.