Friday, May 04, 2012

Now there's an idea

The issue of MPs' pay and perks has been a hot issue in the UK, just as it has been here. But over there, they've come up with a surprising solution: actually asking people about it:

The body in charge of setting MPs' salaries and pensions has launched a public consultation on whether MPs are giving taxpayers value for money.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) chair, Sir Ian Kennedy, said he would not be guided by "political insiders" in Westminster.

This will be the first time pay and pensions are decided independently of Parliament or government.

"This is a huge change from the past," Sir Ian said.

On the Ipsa website, he asks: "How much should MPs be paid?

"I'm sure you have a view. We want to hear it."

There are a number of arguments around MPs' pay: that they should be paid the median wage, to keep them in touch with ordinary people; that they should be paid well, to attract "talent" (rich people's code for other rich people) and prevent corruption. By going to the people, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority can make these arguments in public, and learn the balance the public prefer.

Wouldn't it be nice if our own government was this democratic?