Benches Of Green, Empty They Are

Last updated on June 6th, 2023 at 07:23 pm

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The current furore over Rifkind and Straw got me thinking.  Rifkind’s extraordinarily arrogant comment about being self-employed and not getting a salary  really got my goat.

I won’t go over the same arguments all over again, of course he’s not self-employed. It did, however get me thinking about how much time our politicians should be spending in the House of Commons.  Naively I assumed that as elected politicians, elected to represent US in the House, they should be spending some time each, or most, days on the Benches. How wrong was I?

Members of Parliament are not obliged by parliamentary rules to attend the House at any time.  So, like many other things, if it’s not covered by the rules they can, and do, ignore it.  Can you imagine ANY organisation being effective and efficient if the staff just turned up when they felt like it?

If you want to know how often your MP has attended the House, the official advice is this;

You can scan Hansard to collect figures on the voting records of particular MPs 


Furthermore, you can also access Hansard by Member and view contributions made by MPs during the current session, sorted by date or subject heading


For Select Committees, the members that attended are listed at the top of the of each evidence session. Furthermore, each edition of the Sessional Returns provides details of membership and the number of meetings attended. 

For public bill committees, the full membership of the committee is listed and the Members who attended each particular sitting are asterisked.

The best I can work out is that MOST MPs attend the House of Commons about 66% of the time, or put another way, for about one third of the time they’re either committed elsewhere or can’t be arsed. 

WE pay them £67k per year, minimum, more if they’re a Minister or belong to a Committee and still Rifkind thinks that’s not enough.  They seem to have completely forgotten that they are paid out of the Public Purse, no matter how much they’re getting paid. They’ve had their 11% pay rise, their increased pension pot and their more than generous Expenses Scheme, is it too much to ask that they actually rock up and do a full day’s work?

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1 thought on “Benches Of Green, Empty They Are”

  1. Members of Parliament are possibly the highest paid part time unskilled unqualified workers in the UK. They, and their supporters in the media consistently compare their salaries with Doctors, Head Teachers, Police Superintendents and other similar professions. Being a politician or an MP is not by any definition a profession, no more than is being a server at a fast food outlet.
    At the least to be a professional one requires training or qualifications in ones field. To be an MP requires no training or qualifications, and as exampled by many cases, not a great deal of knowledge either.
    It is evidenced that being an MP is a part time occupation by the large numbers of them who have many lucrative outside interests which must take up a considerable part of their time.
    Perhaps it would be more appropriate to fix their salaries in line with other unskilled workers on 0 hour contracts.
    The argument that you have to pay high salaries to get quality people is so obviously false, and evidenced by the number of highly motivated experienced and effective people working in low paid jobs, nurses, police officers paramedics are obvious examples. Also the reverse is evidenced by the small number of thieving, unprincipled unethical people in the highest paying jobs, banking and insurance come straight to mind.
    The standard of ethics required to be in Parliament is lamentably poor. The continual cry by MP’s to justify their unethical behaviour is, “It was within the rules”, they seem to fail to notice that ethics are standards which do not and/or should not need rules.
    The Police service has always had an expected standard of ethics, which extends beyond just specific rules, the code of conduct has always in one form or another had an offence of bringing the service into disrepute. If this was applied to MP’s, how many would be left?

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