February 26 Letters: Westminster elite are out of touch with our hardships

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From: Karl Sheridan, Holme on Spalding Moor.

The recent sting by Channel 4 which brought to our attention the activities of Jack Straw and Malcolm Rifkind offering their services and influence highlights the issues regarding MPs and their “jobs on the side”.

We are all aware of the perks that most MPs enjoy. However, one does question where the time and effort to carry out these additional appointments and duties come from. Is it in their lunch-breaks at Parliament, or during the evening when they are at home? Or are the hours stolen from the time when they should be actively engaged in pursuing work on our behalf?

I feel that MPs should not have other jobs on the side, and the argument that their salaries are not enough for the amount they have to do is a poor one considering the amount of expenses and perks that they enjoy, added to by gilt-edged pensions and the promise of a seat in the House of Lords – also with its more than generous attendance allowance each day.

Jack Straw’s defensive comments bring me to my other point. We all feel that most of those in the sheltered world of Westminster are out of touch with reality and the hardships most of us have to endure. Mr Straw’s observation that he feels worthy of asking for £5,000 a day for his services rather confirms this.

I suggest that a conventional normal working wage for MPs and Ministers would perhaps focus their minds on the true impact their policies have on the rest of us.

However with the majority earning well over £100,000 a year it is unlikely to have any impact whatsoever.

From: Nigel F Boddy, Fife Road, Darlington.

Part of the problem is that trying to run a home in London and one in a constituency is very expensive. That is how MPs get started down this road. If we moved MPs out of London to provincial Britain it would help somewhat, as London is a very unusual place and people behave untypically there. I had a Westminster pass once as an MP’s researcher for a year and I can tell you the atmosphere in Westminster is very odd and surreal. How anything ever gets done at all there God knows. The alternative is a pay rise for MPs or possibly a free flat to stay in while they are MPs.

I would still recommend turning the Palace of Westminster into a museum or visitor attraction and moving Parliament out to York or somewhere in the centre of Britain where government jobs are needed very much more.