MPs workloads

Baroness Quin

Several articles and comments have appeared recently about how much time MPs are spending away from Westminster and the importance of ensuring a full Parliamentary timetable to deal properly with government legislation.  It has also been claimed that the current government, because of disagreements within the coalition, is finding it difficult to agree new legislation and that therefore the future Parliamentary timetable may have few new laws for MPs and Lords to consider.

There are a number of points I would like to make about this.
Firstly we do not necessarily need to have a lot of new legislation.  In recent years many complaints, rightly in my view, have focussed on the avalanche of new rules and laws which both the public and private sector have been subjected to.  There have been for example new education bills virtually every year and people in the teaching profession have complained to me, and other Parliamentarians, with some justification, that they have barely time to get to know one new set of rules before they are replaced by different requirements. There have also been constant changes in the criminal justice system affecting the work of prison staff, probation staff, the police and those involved in the work of our courts.  In some instances a period of stability rather than constant legislative change is preferable.

This is not an argument however for Parliament to sit for fewer days.  A great deal of time could be well spent in reviewing existing legislation and deciding what is no longer working well and looking at arguments for scrapping or amending existing rules.  Much time too could be usefully spent in pre-legislative scrutiny, looking carefully at whether new legislation being proposed is well thought out and justifiable.

However I would also like to attack the view that if an MP is not sitting in Parliament in London then they are not working. This is a common view in parts of the national press which year after year sneers at MPs for going off for long holidays with their “buckets and spades.”   Having been an MP in the past and having represented a constituency in the North-East some 300 miles from London I know that this is far from being true.  Indeed without a proper knowledge of the constituency and without proper time to meet constituents in firms and local businesses, in schools, hospitals,  voluntary organisations and community groups it is simply not possible to be an effective public representative.  Knowing how people in different localities and communities are affected by government decisions and rules is vital if MPs are to scrutinise legislation and government actions in an informed way.  The constituency provides the oxygen, the life-blood of Parliamentary work.

It is an irony that at a time when the image of Parliamentarians is low that in practice most MPs give a better constituency service now than at probably any previous time in history.  In the past many MPs visited their constituencies only occasionally.  Nowadays virtually all MPs have constituency offices, hold regular advice surgeries and many, again rightly in my view, live in their constituencies and can fully experience life and conditions in their local communities.  These are welcome developments which need to be recognised while seeking to build on them for even better representation in the future.

13 comments for “MPs workloads

  1. Lord Blagger
    25/04/2013 at 11:43 am

    Evidence of what a bad job both houses do.

    1. If its revising legistlation, its because you have failed to do your job. We pay 2,700 a day for you. If you can’t revise and get decent legislation, what are we paying for? A retirement home for failed politicos perhaps.

    2. It’s make work.

    You and MPs need to justify your excessive cost to us, so why not fiddle to make it look like you are doing something.

    3. Irony

    It is an irony that at a time when the image of Parliamentarians is low that in practice most MPs give a better constituency service now than at probably any previous time in history

    No, its because they have been theiving and committing fraud from the petty to the vast.

    Why for example won’t you put the pensions into the government accounts?

    It’s a ponzi fraud you are running.

    • Malden Capell
      25/04/2013 at 5:30 pm

      Lord Blagger, you’re just trolling.

      1. Revising legislation does not necessarily mean MPs or Lords should be condemned for getting it wrong previously. The legislation may have been ideal for the time, but conditions surrounding it may have changed meaning it needs to be amended to work with present conditions. Don’t you think that’s sensible?

      Don’t you think that your assumption that revising legislation is admission of failure is simply going to encourage politicians to think that admitting failure is always a bad idea?

      2. Who says the cost of MPs and Lords is excessive? Compared to many other countries our MPs are pretty modest. There’s always a fair argument that economies should be sought and that every penny spent from taxpayers’ money should be justified, but your attitude smacks of presumed guilty until proved innocent.

      Would you rather MPs sit in the House passing hastily-prepared laws with little time to do it properly, or a bit more time with fewer laws and more time to keep in touch with the electorate and hold the government to account?

      3. Again, you assume that because a minority of MPs have abused it, that they must all be guilty. That’s painting with a broad brush. As you’ve already condemned them as guilty for simply being MPs, why should they bother?

      I imagine part of the reason why pensions are a parliamentary and not a government scheme is to ensure pensions are decided by all members of both Houses and not a preserve of the Treasury, which would place them under the exclusive control of the governing party. I could be wrong though.

      • Lord Blagger
        26/04/2013 at 12:16 pm

        There are very few laws that need revising.

        For example, what new laws are needed on Fraud?

        Where for example was the revision from the Lords on the law that says MPs are exempt from income tax and investigation by the tax man? Not a peep.

        On the cost of the Peers, they are excessive.

        2,700 a day last time I did that. That is more tax by a long way that a min wage earner pays in a year. So at 140 days a year for quite a few years, that’s 140 people working just to keep them in a job. That’s assuming those 140 people don’t use anything from the state.

        That’s a screwed up state of affairs, where a bunch of failed politicians not subject to any democratic control get to dictate to the rest of us what to do. Particularly when the crimes they have committed and what the Lords authorities knew about it get made a state secret, by those same Lords authorities.

        On what I want, what I want is the electorate to be in control. That is cheaper than the Lords.

        So why not compare the UK against New Zealand? Cost of the second chamber there is zero.

        presumed guilty until proved innocent.

        The evidence is there. 52% of MPs paid back money they claimed. They signed to say it was wholly necessary for their job. Paying it back is admitting fraud. That doesn’t include those who were caught first, for example, claiming twice for the same items. So the 52% is going to be much higher. Balance of probabilties, MPs are more likely to be fraudsters than not.

        That leaves off the pensions. Let me ask you a question. Can you find in the government accounts how much they owe for pensions? Why would that be omitted from the accounts?

        This goes directly to her article.

        t is an irony that at a time when the image of Parliamentarians is low that in practice

        It’s not an irony, its because we are being defrauded.

        It goes directly to here article.

        Much time too could be usefully spent in pre-legislative scrutiny, looking carefully at whether new legislation being proposed is well thought out and justifiable.

        When it comes to pensions, there has been no scrutiny.

        The end result is dire.

        Let her come and debate it. As with the other Peers. The won’t. They are frit as Thatcher would have put it.

        • maude elwes
          27/04/2013 at 10:27 am

          Thought this was a good place to remind us all about how politicians use the law to protect ‘themselves’ when they know what they are going to get up to whilst in power.

          Take the Blair governments changes to repeal the Treason laws, for example. This made it possible for him not to be charged with treason for taking this country to war five times during his leadership. More than any other PM before him.

          Now this act should be looked at again. For my understanding is, Blair, Cameron and Clegg would be open to charges of Treason should it be returned to its original format before being tampered with by the Blair administration. Apparently, even the discussion of change to the House of Lords constitutes treason under the old banner. LOL.

          However, what no person is allowed to pull, PM or not, is the downfall of the country or changes made that would bring about the take over of Britain by other nations or nationalities to displace the peoples of these isles.

          And this tells us reform of the ‘Lords’ or the suggestion of it, is also treason under the old order.

          Nevertheless, reform of the ‘Lords’ is the only course open to move forward into Direct Democracy.

  2. MilesJSD
    25/04/2013 at 11:55 am

    Well come, Baroness Quin
    would you be also a supporter even protagonist of Sustain-worthiness(es)
    increasingly basicly at every level of Society, Politics. Lifeplace and Workplce ?

    That MPs “give a better constituency service nowadays”
    is a weak premiss
    it dominantly relies on their class-delusion that they are Surgeons
    (holding Surgery-consultations, hearings an so on and so forth ……. (un-sustainworthy terminology)

  3. GareThugHowell
    25/04/2013 at 11:59 am

    This is not an argument however for Parliament to sit for fewer days.

    …..or to get less pay?

    Far,far too many bad laws after the huge majority of 1997, and 2001. Far,far too much bad war for the same reason after 2001.

    Time to sit back and make a re-appraisal,
    and take a pay cut fo all MPs and peers.
    Select committee cross examination work goes on.

  4. Old Albion
    25/04/2013 at 5:23 pm

    Do you believe MP’s representing Scottish, Welsh and N.Irish constituencies have sufficient workload?
    After all their own parliament or assembly does most of the work for their countries.
    So what have they to do? Apart from interfering in English affairs, obviously.

  5. GareThugHowell
    25/04/2013 at 9:19 pm

    It’s a ponzi fraud you are running.

    Blagger has got some fairly fine arguments, and Hansard sets up quite a few to take a knock on an obscure website blog!

    I looked atth enumber voting the other day. Several debates with a vote count of 600 or more. What possible value can such a large number of people voting have in a non democratic chamber, except to pay out quite large sums to those who have voted.
    Those 600+ all claim their expenses for the day at say £300 each. £180,000 seems far too high a price to pay for representation which effects nobody at all.

    How many vote counts are we seeing like that,
    each session, on individual days?
    50 days? 150 days? per annum. 150x £180,000
    is quite a lot of dosh, when less than half that number could easily make a better decision, and not give slap up lunches to anybody.

    The honour of “Lord” is of course the highest honour the state can confer, but it would surely be much better to confer it, on some without parliamentary rights for any more than a five year parliament.

    The Bill that was put forward along those lines was a nonsense.
    It could be done simply, and to the point.

    If all peers ceased to be peers at the end of a democratic parliament and had to re-register on the basis of totted up service in the previous parliament, it would be …straight forward. The constitutionalists do their best to make it look as complicated as possible. It is not.

    A 100-200 seat chamber would be ample.

    • Lord Blagger
      26/04/2013 at 12:42 pm

      Those 600+ all claim their expenses for the day at say £300 each. £180,000 seems far too high a price to pay for representation which effects nobody at all.


      Except you confuse what they extract out of the system, with what they cost us. One is 300 a day, the other 2,700. Not that they would know, they are just worried about the first.

      Why 200? Why not zero? That saves 150 millon a year. Over a five year period that adds up.

      As for honourable, we’ve a few jail birds in there claiming expenses, and that ignores the ones who got away with it. For example Baroness Uddin, back in the lords. Hasn’t repaid her expenses

  6. maude elwes
    26/04/2013 at 11:44 am

    @Baroness Quinn:

    Your view on the idea that MP’s are spending time with their constituents, or, in their constituency has nothing at all to do with their time ‘paid’ to be in Parliament. The amount of breaks you people get in one year is extraordinary, one can therefore quite rightly assume that the time out should be spent in the way you suggest. The tax payer, unlike parliamentarians, see a working week as long and as time consuming as their own, and that is what they are paying for. Those who cannot stand the pace or ardently give the time needed to do the job, should quit and allow another more able to take his/her place. Which, also quite rightly, would help to sift out those there simply because of the politically correct numbers wanted for no other reason than what is on paper.

    I agree with your line on not necessarily needing the avalanche of legal changes suffered under the Blair/Brown administration. Which was as ridiculous as it was extraordinary. And how we are suffering under the weight of it. Not to mention the cost.

    However, there is a very urgent need to rid us of many parts of legislation brought in under that lunatic government. Double jeopardy being one, and the ability to convict without an offense taking place. The example being this recent conviction of men who ‘discussed’ carrying out a terrorist act.

    How can discussing a crime, or, thinking of doing a crime constitute a criminal offense. That is absurd. We may think daily of robbing the bank, but, until we actually rob it can we be said to have carried out the crime? We all imagine doing many things that would be illegal or criminal should we dare to take the step to do so. I believe that if this continues to stand as criminality in the law courts, most of us would be in jail today, the way these three men have now been placed. Locking up individuals because of nasty thoughts is taking a strange view of what law and order is. I would go as far as to say it is devilish.

    Of course, this is lunacy. Which is why you need the action of crime and evidence or proof of committing a crime before you can be considered criminal. No matter how horrendous the crime you have given thought to may be.

    These jailed men ‘considered’ a terrible crime which under normal circumstances would not have even been revealed. But, because of criminal activity by the state, invasion of their privacy, these people were convicted ‘as if’ they had carried out what they were thinking of.

    We have certainly lost the mantra of ‘you can’t go to jail for what you’re thinking’ in this wonderful new century we live in, haven’t we?

    Then we move on to secret courts and all that goes with that little area of state crime, for which no one will be responsible for bringing into force. What is it you people are doing to our freedom? Have you collectively lost your minds? This part of the legislature needs an overhaul and quick, before we end up as crazy as those we section.

    Of course, I blame the LHC, this madness of collective world politicians has been growing with its use. The fall out only just being realised.

    • Lord Blagger
      26/04/2013 at 12:43 pm

      Pretty accurate Maude.

  7. GaretHugHowell
    29/04/2013 at 12:42 pm

    The wage is for “thinking”.
    The expenses are for “doing”,(everything else) according to one expert.

  8. 16/05/2013 at 4:47 am

    The legislation, which has already been backed by MP Caroline Lucas, MP John McDonnell and a number of disability and gender equality groups, would mean a change to the current rule of one representative per constituency.

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