Friday, 6 June 2008

Turkeys do not vote for Christmas

On Tuesday 3rd June 2008 in the House of Commons a debate was held on a subject close to the heart of our Honorable Members of Parliament. The Pay and Responsibilities of those who govern us was under discussion.

A contribution by Peter Lilley MP actually argued that MP’s pay should reflect their responsibilities. In his words….

“If people receive more responsibilities, they get higher pay. If they move to a post with fewer responsibilities, they expect to receive lower pay. The same should be true of Parliament. If, as is contemplated under the Bill that deals with the European constitutional treaty, this House hands over more of its powers to European institutions, MPs' remuneration should reflect that diminution of their responsibilities.”

The whole speech runs to several pages and so I’m not going to reproduce it all here. Needless to say the issue is important because Parliament is considering transferring another significant slice of its powers on energy, foreign policy, immigration and several other areas to European institutions under the Lisbon treaty. A substantial transfer of powers has already occurred under previous treaties and when the Treaty of Lisbon is ratified the course will be set so that in fifteen to twenty years British MPs will have similar responsibilities to today’s County Councilors.

To give the last words to Peter Lilley MP

“Those who support the transfer of power from here (British Parliament in Westminster) to supranational institutions should logically accept that our pay should reflect the diminution of our responsibilities. But, strangely, all the Euro-enthusiasts whom I asked to sponsor the Bill declined to do so without explaining why. Too many Members are happy to avert their eyes from what is happening, so long as they retain the prestige and emoluments that were appropriate to a fully sovereign Parliament. Turkeys do not vote for Christmas.

If any Labour Members oppose the Bill, I hope that they will come out and object to it here and now, rather than trying to dispose of it by subterfuge one Friday morning. I look forward to hearing them argue for having their cake and eating it. I doubt that they would convince many of their constituents that, unlike any in other occupation, MPs' pay should be divorced from their responsibilities.”

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