Pay Cut? Politicians miss an opportunity

There’s a lot of debate at the moment about whether Tynwald members (MHK’s and MLC’s) should be taking a £4,000 pay cut. I can see the argument here, slow wage growth in the private sector, cutbacks all around, big changes to civil service pensions – maybe it’s time our elected leaders actually started leading by example.

The thing is, all these people calling for this pay cut (and all those fighting against it) have completely missed a real opportunity to make Tynwald Members pay fairer for everyone.

At the moment each Tynwald Member gets a basic wage of £39,546.50. Now when they are appointed as a departmental member they get a 30% uplift (40% in treasury) bringing their pay to a minimum of £51,410.45. Some get a bit extra (another 10%) for some statutory roles, such as Chairman of the OFT (now there’s real value for money….).

Ministers, the Chief Minister, the Speaker of the House and the President all get paid more than this with their uplifts ranging from 50% to 80% extra.

Oh and they all get an annual expenses allowance of £6,707.42.

So there’s a real financial incentive to be part of government. But do we really think backbenchers and members of the scrutiny committees who are challenging government are less valuable to our democracy than Departmental Members who are paid an increase to keep them toeing the government line?

Now here’s the kicker

Nearly all Members of Tynwald  are departmental Members or Ministers (including the President and Speaker – 28 out of 33) and only four aren’t getting any uplift at all.

This means the real “basic” wage is £58,117.87 (basic + departmental uplift + expenses allowance). But only if they stay on the government’s side.If you don’t, you get a pay cut.

So here’s my suggestion on how to reform the way we pay our Tynwald Members.

1) Get rid of the expenses allowance

Tynwald Members should claim for each expense individually (With a maximum cap in any parliamentary year), like everyone else would have to, and these expenses should be published for the public to see what they are spending taxpayers money on. This would restrict it to genuine parliamentary expenses.

2) Get rid of all departmental uplifts and the uplifts for the Speaker and the President.

Level the playing field so Tynwald Members can disagree with government without risking losing out financially. This would let our Tynwald Members be truly independent.

3) Members of the Scrutiny Committees should have the same uplifts as Ministers, which should be reduced down from the current 50%.

This should encourage Tynwald Members to get onto the committees and take these roles seriously – it would mean better scrutiny of Government as MHK’s would be able to stay completely out of Government and focus on holding them to account.

Reducing the uplift means it’s not such a big cut if someone has to resign on a point of principle – less incentive to “toe the line”.

4) Pay all Tynwald Members a basic wage of £55,000 a year

This would be a drop in pay of £3,117.87 and is a more than realistic salary. It’s enough not to put off good calibre candidates, and it’s also Tynwald Members leading by example, taking a pay cut like so many others.

5) Tynwald Members pay should then increase each year by the same amount as the civil service pay rises. 

This puts them in the same boat as everyone in the civil service.


5 thoughts on “Pay Cut? Politicians miss an opportunity”

  1. Pay Cut? Politicians miss an opportunity – I’m surprised that you do not differentiate the remuneration of MHKs and MLCs. The latter do not have any constituency responsibilities and the hours dedicated to scrutinising legislation is minimal – 27 hours 48 minutes in 2016, of which about 30 minutes was in prayer! In each of the 3 years prior even less time was spent in Council.
    I have analysed the time so spent for the years 2013 to 2016. For this MLCs receive a basic wage, as you put it, of £40,417.00 per annum (with effect from 1 April 2016). MHKs are mugs to allow this. A member of the Appointments Committee receives about £15,000.00 p.a.for about the same number of hours. I would welcome sharing my findings with you and any of your colleagues who may be interested. Now is the time to garner evidence for the Lisvane Report debate in April.

    1. I agree with your point – but if scrutiny is increased (and MLCs play a greater role in this) then they’ll be working more hours and have more responsibilities

      I’m not sure where you get the 27 hours from – I assume that’s just the LegCo sitting time? It doesn’t account for any time spent outside of sittings, which if my recent experience of drafting and revising legislation is anything to go by should be considerable!

      1. You, as an MHK, also have to frame legislation. With your experience of this please tell me how many hours you think, over above the 27 hours p.a. logged, are spent, in consideration, outside Council sittings. I am, for the moment, only talking about the principal business of the Legislation Council which is the consideration of legislation.

      2. Well so far, outside of sittings I’ve spent around 2 hours on each of the dogs act and treasure bill and over 50 hours on the equality bill and none of those have passed the clauses stage yet

        Each piece of secondary legislation that comes before Tynwald takes a minimum of 15 mins prep before a sitting and that’s just for the ones that are straightforward – I’d say prepping for that aspect of Tynwald takes about half a day unless anything contentious is there

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