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MPs expenses, second homes, and wages. #19

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merged 7 commits into from Feb 3, 2014

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@Floppy
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commented Jan 1, 2014

Give MPs a decent wage linked to national income, and reduce expenses to bare minimum. Create an MPs hotel to remove need for second homes.

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commented Jan 2, 2014

I'm not convinced by banning all second jobs for MPs. IF an MP can show there's no conflict with their role as an MP, both in terms of time required and conflict-of-interest, I'm not sure there's any moral grounds for a ban.

An MP's job should be constrained to reasonable working-hours (e.g. no more than 8-9 hours a day), with annual leave – so if they want to spend some of their free time working as, e.g., an assistant at a homeless shelter or even starting their own business – then that seems ok to me, and perhaps even beneficial.

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commented Jan 2, 2014

The idea was to avoid conflicts of interest, or conflicting demands on MPs time. It doesn't seem reasonable to me that my elected official should spend time on other things while representing me. But, perhaps that's a matter for their voters. If they have a power of recall, then perhaps this isn't required.

Completely agree on the second point though. I'll make a few changes, see what you think.

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commented Jan 2, 2014

Updated to make less draconian. I see @PaulJRobinson has added power of recall to #20, so I won't add that here.

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commented Jan 3, 2014

We should merge #20 before this one to avoid problems.

Floppy added 2 commits Jan 7, 2014
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@philipjohn

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commented Jan 8, 2014

👍 (except the hotel bit)

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commented Jan 8, 2014

@philipjohn how do you mean? I reckon it's cheaper to have dedicated accomodation for MPs while in London than to allow second homes; I don't think you'd want to have them staying just anywhere, for security and facilities reasons.

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commented Jan 8, 2014

I agree with James: a dedicated block of flats for all MPs. 👍

with kind regards,
Paul Robinson

about.me/pauljrobinson

On 8 January 2014 09:08, James Smith notifications@github.com wrote:

@philipjohn https://github.com/philipjohn how do you mean? I reckon
it's cheaper to have dedicated accomodation for MPs while in London than to
allow second homes; I don't think you'd want to have them staying just
anywhere, for security and facilities reasons.


Reply to this email directly or view it on GitHubhttps://github.com//pull/19#issuecomment-31815236
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commented Jan 8, 2014

I'm coming at it from the whole 'out of touch' argument point of view. I suspect MPs aren't the only people on that kind of salary commuting in and going home at the weekend. They probably don't get a custom built hotel so why should MPs?

It's much more beneficial to the relationship between MPs and the electorate if, like most people, they are given a salary and perhaps travel expenses, and the rest they find themselves out of their salary - rather than having special treatment.

Plus, a single building to house them all invites additional maintenance costs not to mention the security implications (and therefore cost) of having all the members of the upper house in one place at a time. Terrorist wet dream, surely?

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commented Jan 8, 2014

All in one place would be cheaper to maintain and secure, I'm sure. I'm also fairly sure that companies with many employees staying in London on expenses for a week at a time would make the same decision, and use rented flats rather than hotels.

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commented Jan 8, 2014

Apart from those MPs representing constituencies within Greater London or
the Home Counties, most will be working away from their constituents,
friends and families. They are currently have the authority to purchase or
rent a second home within the M25 (or perhaps just Zone 6 of the Tube, not
sure of the specifics) because their job requires them to be there. So we
are already (quite rightly) paying for them to live in London. If your
boss/job required you to spend 3 out of 4 weeks living in the Shetlands,
you would expect the company to pay for it.

Even those MPs living in Greater London or the Home Counties will still
have difficulties getting home each night (unless they are one of a handful
of central London MPs) because of the working hours in Parliament when
debates and divisions can finish in the early hours (although this is a
different issue - as Parliament needs to sort out their working
conditions). But the point is that even a 'normal' commute from Guildford,
St Albans or Southend becomes tricky when you're leaving Parliament at 0100
in the morning.

The security required would be similar to the security of Parliament -
difficult, expensive, but not unfeasible. Given that many Cabinet members
have security at the London residence anyway, if they were all staying in
one place the overall number of Protection Officers that are required may
even be reduced!

I'm certainly all for increasing their salary (and fixing the future rate
of increase to average earnings) and reducing their allowances and expenses
even further, but I think accommodation is one peculiar area where the
taxpayer should provide a simple uniform solution that cannot be abused.

with kind regards,
Paul Robinson

about.me/pauljrobinson

On 8 January 2014 18:22, philipjohn notifications@github.com wrote:

I'm coming at it from the whole 'out of touch' argument point of view. I
suspect MPs aren't the only people on that kind of salary commuting in and
going home at the weekend. They probably don't get a custom built hotel so
why should MPs?

It's much more beneficial to the relationship between MPs and the
electorate if, like most people, they are given a salary and perhaps travel
expenses, and the rest they find themselves out of their salary - rather
than having special treatment.

Plus, a single building to house them all invites additional maintenance
costs not to mention the security implications (and therefore cost) of
having all the members of the upper house in one place at a time. Terrorist
wet dream, surely?


Reply to this email directly or view it on GitHubhttps://github.com//pull/19#issuecomment-31862392
.

@Floppy

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commented Jan 8, 2014

Yep, that's it. Much less scope for abuse.

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commented Jan 9, 2014

Rather than a single 'MPs hotel', wouldn't it be simpler and easier to just set up a governmental room-booking services, by which MPs (and perhaps civil servants, and other government officials) could book rooms through a central service, either on a one-off or on a longer-term basis. The service could provide these rooms through either negotiating rates with existing hotels / accommodation providers, or through buying and running some accommodation blocks (most likely a mixture of the two). This would provide more flexibility, is probably more cost-effective, and allows MPs some choice in which parts of London or what types of room to book.

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commented Jan 9, 2014

That sounds reasonable, yeah and probably more in line with what other orgs
do, as suggested by @PaulJRobinson earlier.

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commented Jan 11, 2014

One problem I have with current MP's renumeration is that it's set centrally. If MP's report to their constituents, their performance and remuneration should be evaluated and set by those constituents themselves.

I'd propose a system whereby an MP's constituency office receives a set grant for all costs related to representation in the HoC (office running costs, parliamentary assistants, campaigining, MP's salary and expenses), and a panel of constituents (selected to be diverse and avoid conflicts of interest) set a yearly budget for that constituency. This would also have the nice side effect of allowing indepenent MPs to access the same sort of resources as those with party affiliations (assuming we also fixed our broken electoral system to give them a chance of being elected in the first place!)

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commented Jan 11, 2014

@frankieroberto yes, OK, that's a good middle ground. I will amend. @timcowlishaw, do you want to do a separate proposal for that idea?

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commented Jan 29, 2014

I've updated this to reflect the discussion above. Votes please!

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commented Jan 29, 2014

Aargh, sorry - I never produced a PR on local accountability and budget setting, will do so ASAP. I'm an abstention on this one I think, as while I think it's a perfectly reasonable approach if MPs salaries are set centrally, I'd still be in favour of this being set at a constituency level. Will outline more in a separate PR though.

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commented Jan 29, 2014

I'm pretty close to thumbsup. Not sure about use of hotels in London as MPs are elected for 5 years which is highly predictable for the purposes of organising accomodation. There shouldn't ever be the need for hotels which is about the most expensive way of accomodating people.

@Floppy

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commented Jan 29, 2014

I think that this leaves it all open to use the most cost-effective method at the time, which is better than prescribing a specific solution.

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commented Jan 29, 2014

👍

with kind regards,
Paul Robinson

about.me/pauljrobinson

On 29 January 2014 09:40, James Smith notifications@github.com wrote:

I think that this leaves it all open to use the most cost-effective method
at the time, which is better than prescribing a specific solution.

Reply to this email directly or view it on GitHubhttps://github.com//pull/19#issuecomment-33569172
.

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commented Jan 30, 2014

@philipjohn @frankieroberto @timcowlishaw can we get one more thumb up on this one and get it merged in?

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commented Jan 30, 2014

I think @philipjohn is in agreement now, reading back, but it's best to be sure.

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commented Jan 31, 2014

Sorry, been distracted! 👍 from me, sounds great

Floppy added a commit that referenced this pull request Feb 3, 2014
MPs expenses, second homes, and wages.
@Floppy Floppy merged commit e4135af into gh-pages Feb 3, 2014
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@Floppy Floppy deleted the expenses branch Feb 3, 2014
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