This weekend I listened to Betty Boothroyd talking with Andrew Neil on Straight Talk. During her years as Speaker Ms Boothroyd continued the traditions of Speaker and maintained the standards with unbiased dignity.
Andrew Neil brought up the question of MPs' salaries. Ms Boothroyd, in her usual northern manner, was adamant MPs should earn more and suggested they should earn a similar salary to senior GPs.
Many of you will know I completely disagree with this type of comparison. MPs required no formal qualifications while GPs study for years then achieve high salaries through length of service and experience.
As we know the present basic salary for MPs is £64,766, for all ages and regardless of years of service/experience. My suggestion is that MPs should be placed on civil service salary scales but they have voted strongly against this (page 7). Thus, an MP who has served 15 years would receive more than a newly appointed one. This would ensure that longer serving MPs feel valued. I do not mean the senior civil servant pay scale where the majority earn between £57,000 and £100,000 and Permanent Secretaries (heads of departments) earn £140,000 and more. In previous posts on this subject I suggested the army officer pay scale as a suitable starting point.
Of course MPs will protest and say, "But our jobs aren't guaranteed". Nobody's job is guaranteed these days and MPs receive very handsome winding up allowances (£42,068) and pensions which most of us can only dream of when they leave office.
Since the expenses scandal early last summer has died down we can't allow MPs to think the electorate has forgotten their greed. One remark Betty Boothroyd did say was, "If salaries are increased then the number of MPs needs to be reduced to foot the bill."
Interesting she acknowledges there are too many MPs in Westminster but has she voiced her opinion within her influential circle?
As you'll see I've placed a poll on the blog asking your opinion. The results should be fascinating.