Time for an independent body to set MPs pay and conditions
Repeated stories in the press about the pay and expenses of MPs, MEPs, and councillors, and what changes might be made to them are shredding what is left of the reputation of parliament and politics in this country.
This cannot go on. David Cameron was right to adopt the policy that a future Conservative government will give people the "Right to Know" with more transparent information about how MPs.
Both David Cameron and Gordon Brown have said that they are in favour of an independent body setting MPs pay rather than have the House of Commons vote on its members' own remuneration. So if the Prime Minister was serious about this, it should be implemented now, and let that independent body review the various proposals for changes to the expenses system which are currently being floated.
I have always said that neither councillors nor MPs should be put in the invidious position of setting their own pay. In some cases politicians have been justly accused of voting themselves too much money - I was once so incensed when Labour and Lib/Dem members of my previous council voted us all a 20% pay increase without reference to the independent panel which is supposed to make recommendations on the subject, that I refused to take the money and asked the officers to pay me an RPI increase instead (forgoing about £2000.)
But when people are voting on their own remuneration there will inevitably be accusations that they are feathering their nests whether it is fair or not.
One possibility would be a Royal Commission tasked to make recommendations on the pay and conditions of MPs and councillors within a year, with the results to be implemented in May 2010, e.g. immediately after the most likely date for the next general election so that every candidate for parliament knows the financial basis on which they will be standing for election. Thereafter independent panels meeting in public should set inflation adjustments for the House of Commons and for councils.