Politician’s Remuneration – From Brazil to Blighty

Yesterday I blogged about a paper that claimed that higher salaries for politicians resulted in more educated, experienced and hard working politicians. From my own experience of Brazil, I tried to show that that the results could be interpreted as encouraging political dynasties and patronage.

 

In the UK, there have been two aspects of politician’s remuneration that have been in the news recently.

 

The Home Secretary’s 2nd Home Allowance

 

It is alleged by Guido Fawkes, Iain Dale  (and back up by the Sunday Times & The Mail on Sunday) that Ms Jacqui Smith MP is incorrectly claiming which of her two places of residence is her 2nd home. It would appear that the Home Secretary’s primary residence is with her sister in London, and the 2nd home is with her husband and two children in the Redditch constituency. Furthermore, Jacqui Smith’s website biography states

 

            Jacqui grew up in Malvern, Worcestershire before moving to Redditch in 1986.  She still lives in Redditch with husband, Richard and sons James (13) and Michael (8).

 

The Daily Mail is making similar allegations about the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling.

Allegation of sleaze (covert corruption) undermined the last Conservative Government, contributing to suffering, in 1997, the biggest defeat of any government since 1832. Yet, the sleaze did not extend to the Home Secretary (in charge of the nation’s police forces) or allegations of financial impropriety extend to the Custodian of the State’s finances.

 

Pensions for Failure

 

The Sunday Times (Hat-tip Iain Dale) reports that MPs are pushing for a substantial increase in the “Parachute Payments” when that they receive when they fail at a general election to get re-elected. Furthermore, this is to be extended to those who resign or retire mid-term. I can understand and sympathize with someone who has to step down through ill-health. But to compensate those who resign due to incompetence or worse is not in the public interest. Furthermore, to make politician’s terms and conditions better when unemployment is forecast to rise by a million in the current year, is not exactly showing solidarity with the working classes.

I admit that MPs are not paid as much in relative terms as their counterparts in Brazil. A British MP has a basic salary of just 6.5 times of a full-time worker on the minimum wage. In 2004, their equivalent earned over 38 times the minimum salary. However, in neither country to they have any shortage of applicants for the posts, which tends to suggest they are a might overpaid.

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