The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

The Problem With The Kelly Report

Posted by The Futility Monster on November 5, 2009 @ 09:02

hair-shirt

Rumours that the report contained one of these appeared to be exaggerated.

Yesterday’s release of the Kelly Report into MPs expenses was largely overshadowed by the fact that it had been leaked horrendously in the week before. Worse, it was then pushed for airtime by the nonsense that is Cameron’s new EU policy, which has made Dan Hannan even more of a muppet than before, and which will completely isolate us within it.

But there was a gaping hole in the middle of the Kelly Report. For those who thought it might lead to a brigher era, with new spiffy MPs that are respected because of their hair-shirtedness, it is something of a disappointment.

The big problem is that the report says absolutely nothing about what MPs ought to be paid. Bear in mind that MPs pay is the elephant in the room, and that Kelly’s recommendation to farm it out to an independent body is merely buck-passing.

It’s far more important because the MPs expenses and allowance system got so grotesque because MPs pay was being artificially kept low. It’s the classic con-trick. Watch my hand as I only raise MPs pay by small amounts per year, while my other hand is furiously filling in expense claims, to which I attach no receipts, and simultaneously speculate on the property market…

A number of MPs and organisations made submissions to the Kelly inquiry hoping that MPs pay would be front and central of his recommendations. Instead, the issue has been dodged. Maybe by some miracle the new independent regime to handle expenses will finally come to the right conclusion and recognise MPs genuinely do deserve a pay rise…

But the right time, surely, was now. While the issue is live and the public are keen to see reforms. While the media are paying close attention is the honest time to have this debate. Not in a couple of year’s time when the expenses affair, nullified by a general election and a new system, has died a death. That would only be seen as, yet again, greedy, grasping MPs trying to claw back what they’ve lost.

Worse, it would start to bring down the reputation of the newly elected Parliament, something we could avoid entirely by doing it now. After all, the reputation of the current lot could hardly be any worse. Why not utilise the lame-duck status of it to deal with this issue once and for all?

The Kelly Report is otherwise a useful step. It stops all the obvious outrages. That’s what we expected it would do, and MPs would be foolish to try to derail it; that really would push the reputation of politics over the edge.

But maybe we could have convinced them by sweetening the deal a little.

Politics should be fair to everyone. Even politicians.

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