Monday, 17 October 2011

Short-sighted MP bashing

I started writing this blogpost on the train home from London. It was prompted by finding a copy of the Evening Standard on my seat and seeing its frontpage:
The story beneath the headline is about how a cross party consensus is considering introducing a five day parliamentary recess in November in order to make up for the days of recess lost during the summer when MPs were recalled to deal with issues such as phone hacking and the England Riots.The article itself is all about quotes from various people all saying how terrible this is and how lazy MPs are.

Now, far be it from me to defend those MPs who go on expensive jollies at the taxpayers expense (e.g. very few) but I think this entire article is utterly short sighted and stupid. MP bashing maybe fashionable but criticising the length of the parliamentary recess is incredibly counter productive.

You see, the summer recess isn't some sort of massive holiday for MPs, it's simply the time when parliament isn't sitting. This leaves MPs free to focus on the other half of their job - doing constituency work and helping their constituents with problems.

Now, given that everyone claims they want MPs to spend more time with "real people", cutting short the parliamentary recess is precisely the way to get the exact opposite effect by reducing the amount of time MPs have to spend in their constituencies with the people they represent. And lets not forget, for MPs living outside London, with parliamentary hours of 9 to 5+, by the time they've got home they've got no time left to deal with anything but the lightest of constituency work.

I won't deny that MPs do go on holiday in the summer recess, but when they do it is usually at the start of the recess and is often their only major holiday of the year - I've never heard of an MP taking a holiday longer than two weeks at most, for example. Now, if people want to object to the recess then fine. But they should remember that shortening it will just mean that MPs spend more time in Westminster making laws and far less amongst the people they represent. And, feel free to speak up if you disagree, but, if MPs are as bad as everyone claims they are then do we really want them to spend even more time making laws to govern our lives?

1 comment:

  1. I take your point George, and I know that my MP is exactly as you describe above. The recall actually came right before the beginning of his holiday.

    I think, however, that with people all over the country taking unpaid leave, reducing their hours, being paid off, taking pay cuts, it's probably the wrong time for MPs to whine about having to make up time on their holiday, which was very likely not the ACTUAL holiday.

    They would be advised not to mention their terms and conditions to loudly at the moment, because although they are not as favourable as they used to be, they are a bloody site better than most of the rest of us have.


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