Peter Hoskin

Why Cormack’s proposal makes the case for greater public involvement

Why Cormack's proposal makes the case for greater public involvement
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So, Sir Patrick Cormack has proposed a solution to the expenses row: doubling MPs' pay to around £130,000 and then banning all allowances, save those which pay for staff and the maintenance of a constituency office.  The general response has been dismissive - a "Tory grandee" sparking "outrage" - and both Labour and the Lib Dems have quotes on the wire attacking this "out of touch" idea.

But, to my mind, this is one of those cases where both sides of the argument can be understood and - paradoxically - perhaps even agreed with.  Doubling MPs' pay, while removing allowances, would streamline the system, make it much more transparent and could be cheaper for taxpayers.  But, against that, there's the idea that any increase in MPs' pay would be extremely difficult to sell to taxpayers, and would limit the next government's ability to implement an Age of Austerity agenda.

In the end, I think all this just highlights the need for greater public involvement in the process.  If politicians want to restore faith in the system, then Parliament - or one of the parties - should set out all the options for dealing with MPs' pay, their pros and cons, and publish them in a digestible format.  Who knows?  The options could even be put to a vote, so politicians can have a better understanding of just what the public are and aren't prepared to tolerate.  It would certainly be more constructive than yet another round of politically-motivated name-calling.