When Conservative MP Nick Morgan announced she was standing down as an MP ahead of the general election in 2019, she immediately became entitled to a retiring MP payment. Under Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) rules she is due a payment of around £8400 which is the equivalent to 2 months additional salary. This is a payment which is made if an MP is forced to close down their office, in this instance because she had decided to leave Parliament of her own free will for the “good of her family”. Did you know that this is twice the statutory redundancy rate for taxpayers?
However, just after the election Nicky Morgan was elected to the House of Lords and given the role of culture secretary in Boris Johnson’s cabinet. This comes with a cabinet minister’s salary of £79,754 a year. Where was her commitment to a family when this salary was offered?
So, one might sensibly have assumed she would refrain from claiming the retiring MP payment?
Nicky Morgan determined to accept winding up payment
You certainly need to have a thick skin to be an MP and it is fair to say that Nicky Morgan and others who are in a similar situation seem to be removed from public opinion on these matters. Quoted in the Guardian, Nicky Morgan said:-
“We are all entitled to a winding up payment and that is what I am going to do, winding up all of my work as an MP. I am taking it.”
Rather hypocritical, a number of Labour MPs have stepped forward to suggest that the payment should be donated to charity. This prompted the question, what right do MPs have to make political hay by suggesting taxpayer’s money should be donated to charity. What about the taxpayer? What about austerity? What about changing the rules?
Milking the system
History shows that MPs look after MPs with one of the first leaflets handed to new MPs that of how to claim expenses from day one. When MPs were recently exposed as claiming huge expenses, which normal taxpayers have to pay out of their own pocket, what did they do? Yes, a few MPs were thrown to the wolves and forced to pay back payments “claimed in error”. The fact that many of these payments were reversed once the public anger had died down is a serious cause for concern. However, for many people it is the long-term changes which create most anger!
Faced with a serious reduction in the expenses they were able to claim from taxpayers, MPs simply increased their salaries. The argument that only by offering attractive salaries would you attract the most influential MPs, is a red herring. The vast majority of MPs have no experience of business and the “normal world” when they enter the House of Commons. The fact that many are able to pursue a career after their politically dalliances have ended is often down to the contacts they have made as a consequence of politics. Milking the system again?
While Nicky Morgan is just the latest in a long line of MPs who have claimed this so-called retiring MP payment, to suggest she donate the money to charity is also out of touch. The fact that MPs are suggesting these payments should be donated to charity is surely a slap in the face for taxpayers? Why should any MP be able to make political hay by diverting taxpayer funds while attempting to gain credit? If you are reemployed by an incoming government within a relatively short timescale then surely you should not be entitled to such payments?
Is it any surprise that voters are sick to the back teeth of the lifestyle which politics brings to the political elite, while the rest of us fight to live on a month-to-month basis?