Public sector waste

Cost of Parliament – £455 million

Browsing a few blogs tonight I came across a New Year posting at Burning Our Money. The conclusion was that our government and politics just goes on making law and and spending cash without restraint because they have no restraints. Burning Our Money calls for a set of rules that would limit governments.

The first place to look is the cost of Parliament itself.

I did a bit of research. Judging by the House of Commons and Lords accounts our masters spent £322.6 million running the House of Commons last year (although this included an exceptional item of £129.3 million), £155.3 million on members’ pay, expenses, etc and £106.4 million for the House of Lords. That is £455 million of our cash every year just to run Parliament. The first rule should be keep the whole thing to a budget of £250 million that gets uprated in line with the CPI every year – which is the kind of discipline Gordon Brown demands of local authorities and any business demands of its managers.

Back at the start of the month when MPs were fantasising about £100K salaries (see previous posting) I put up a petition at the Number 10 site limiting the cost of Parliament. If you agree with me that MPs and Parliament as a whole should have to contain their spending within limits rather than just being able to vote themselves any salary and perks that they like, you might like to sign the petition that I have started at the Number 10 e-petitions site.

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to fix the budget for Parliament and link it to inflation such that MP’s salaries can only increase if they save money elsewhere.

Follow link.

4 replies on “Cost of Parliament – £455 million”

Hi Phil

I must say I hadn’t considered cash limiting Parliament itself, but it sounds like an excellent idea to me.

As you point out, it’s no more than the government does to LAs, and that way, MPs and peers would have to make some real world budgeting decisions. They’d have to decide whether we really do need nearly 700 MPs, and more than seven hundred peers.

What on earth do they all do? Most of the actual work seems to get done by a couple of hundred MPs, and I’ve always believed the Devil makes work for idle hands.


This topic seems appropriate again, after these years have passed.
It is now July 2009 and nothing has happened to alter the way Parliament is run, or to cap it’s costs.
The questions are no longer confined to Westminster; the Scottish Parliament and Welsh assembly add to the costs as does payment of local councillors.
Perhaps a more fundamental question is:
How many representatives does each household in the UK need or wish for?
(I wish for a representative for me).
What proportion of representatives per household, per person, per interest group is needed?
(The current ratio is approximately one representative for every 933 households).
Rather than cap costs at an arbitrary amount it may be indicative of how we value representation to ask how much each group of 933 households, or each individual household, or each interest group, is willing to pay for democratic representation. (There may be a wish to maintain representation independent of wealth).
The answer to these questions is dependent on a subjective assessment of value for money.
Current cost per annum per household of democratic representation is less than £20 a year. (Assuming 26 million households)
Despite apparent inefficiencies, this seems a reasonable price, affordable by almost every household in the UK, to pay for democracy. Alternative models may come out slightly less, or slightly more expensive. Lowering the cost is not a sufficient reason for changing our institutions.
At an extreme this could lead to ‘outsourcing our government’. A call centre in India may not satisfy our wishes for good government no matter how relatively inexpensive it might be.
A rational approach to the representation of the people may satisfy rationality and reason.
Reason, and rational thought is not the uppermost thinking in any political system devised to date.


[…] A couple of years earlier Phil Taylor, a Conservative Councillor from the London Borough of Ealing wrote about the need to cap this spending. He too is no longer focusing on this topic, any connection to a Conservative dominated coalition […]


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