Turning MPs into Administrators

According to the Sunday Times, there is a proposal to cut the salaries of MPs with outside interests. This flows from a view that time spent equals output. Modern Britain has moved in the opposite direction.

 Who do you think should be paid more?


  1. A GP who handles 50 patients a day, one who handles 40 patients a day. The second is much better at diagnosis of cancer, so survival rates of their patients are significantly better than the first.
  2. A fireman who puts in enormous effort in public awareness campaigns, (but does not act like taking risks), or the fireman who much prefers maintaining the equipment and pumping, but has received bravery awards for rescues.
  3. A credit controller who spends 60 hours a week chasing payments and sorting issues, or one who spends most of their 35 hours making personal calls. The former has some bad debts, and a high percentage of overdues. The latter is so efficient, that potential bad debts are spotted early, and if the account falls a day over due, the customer knows they will get a call.
  4. A hands-on salesmen who spends 80 hours a week at clients premises or travelling, generating £200k a year of net profit from 500 orders, or the salesmen who spends most of the time on the local golf course with his mates, two of whom regularly push orders his way adding the same £200k a year to net profit. In the former case, it is for a market-leading product. For the latter, there is competition from much stronger competitors.
  5. The managing director working long hours, effectively running the business on a day-to-day basis, but not thinking strategically. Or half-a-day a week part-time director who can identify important strategic opportunities and accurately forecast business risks. As a result of the second, the business grows during a recession, whilst competitors down-size or go bust.
  6. The drugs researcher who assiduously works throughout a long career, is popular & provides copious and well-written reports, but of little value. Or the wonder-kid who finds a block-buster drugs at ages 30 and 55, is a pain to work for, and their reports poorly written and often late.   


If you support “part-time” MPs being paid less, then I suggest that you support the first type of person. If you believe that MPs are there to make a difference, it is the latter. Further, I would suggest that such a move is the opposite of the direction that society is moving. In the wider world jobs have moved away from where volume and time spent are the measure of output. Increasingly it is the single actions, or a flash of insight, or just a small amount of time spent that creates most of the value. That is in the creative industries (research, advertising, design) or in education or health care or accountancy or even in manufacturing. The repetitive jobs have been eliminated by computers, or have moved to developing countries.


Other objections.


  1. If quantity of output is important, what of the MP who spends most of the time in the common’s bar? – or campaigning in other constituencies?
  2. What of the MPs who are also councillor’s or MEP’s. A councilor signs to work 20 hours per week minimum, so should an MP’s salary be worth less.
  3. The idea that MPs should be paid (partly) by the number of attendances was rejected. Is this not introducing this idea in another way.
  4. If time spent is important, should an efficient MP be paid less than an inefficient one (doing the same volume of work)?
  5. The biggest source of outside interests is government ministers. Should not the Prime Minister have a lower MP’s salary, or other member’s of the government.


It is one more thing to drive out the “elected representatives—citizen legislators replacing them with “professional politicians funded exclusively by the taxpayer


UPDATE – Douglas Carswell has a witty comment on the professionalisation of MPs

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