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Communications disease National politics

Reforming Parliament, start with the cash stupid

Today the News of the World has a shock, horror piece about a £17K lift attendant at Parliament. They say:

Incredibly, our pampered politicians are looking for a hired flunky to actually push the buttons for them in the House of Commons elevator.

And the fact they’ll pay £17,277 a year, plus perks, out of taxpayers’ money to do it last night sparked an almighty row.

You can see the job ad here.

Apparently there are four “lift attendants”. I think the News of the Screws may have hit the wrong target though – apparently these guys have a role escorting visitors around for security reasons. It would be strange to have Parliament unattended given the security you might want to see there. But, the problem with Parliament is that it is unscrutinised. Seeing itself as sovereign it thinks it can do what it likes and does not need to weigh priorities and cut its cloth like the rest of us.

A much more dodgy job as is this one one for a House of Lords press person – £30K for a 20 hour week with 35 days paid holiday. Where do you get that kind of gig in the private sector? The only way the House of Lords is ever going to look good is if the lords stop stealing from us (Uddin & co you know who you are). No number of overpaid fluffy comms people are going to trump that kind of behaviour. This is a total waste of money.

The total bill for Parliament last year was £516 million or, to put it another way the cost of running five district general hospitals the size of Ealing. See House of Commons figures here and house of Lords figures here. MPs direct pay and allowances are £242K per head and they cost £633K per head all in.

The Tories are talking about shaving this bill 10%, see here. I reckon you could take 40% out, see here. The figure of 40% is a bit arbitary but if you run an organisation with no real cost control pressures for many decades halving its spending should be a doddle. I figured 40% gave me some room for error! If you are reading David I would do the job for free. Give me two years max.