Latest post on Left Futures

The payroll vote undermines democracy on both sides at Westminster

The public administration select committee, that scrutinises Whitehall, yesterday published a further report on the “payroll vote” – Ministers and unpaid Parliamentary Private Secretaries (PPSs) who are expected to support the government line or resign. The Committee Chair, Patrick Jenkin, Conservative MP for for Harwich and North Essex, did not mince his words, talking of the Government being “patronage-driven” and “spending public money to buy loyalty“, after they rejected the Committee’s earlier advice.

The committee said in March that the payroll vote should be slashed by more than 60 within four years (especially in the light of the reduction in the total number of MPs from 650 to 600). Many ministers were engaged in tasks better carried out by officials, it argued, and parliamentary aides performed “few functions of real value“.

Unfortunately, this reflects on Labour even more than the Conservatives. Whereas the select committee refers to 121 MPs currently on the payroll vote (including PPSs), there were 146 under Tony Blair in October 2001 and probably several more under Gordon Brown in May 2010when the number of MPs who were ministers was at its legal maximum although the number of PPSs at this point was not made public (more detailed figures here).

Nor is the size of Labour’s “payroll vote” in opposition now especially encouraging. In addition to the 100 Labour MPs on the front bench, there are a further 23 PPSs — 46% of the total (excluding the two Deputy Speakers). All expected to back the appointed shadow cabinet’s decisions. One could argue that Ed Miliband had no choice, given his minority support in the PLP, but to pad out the junior ranks with supporters, but it is still not good news for debate and accountability.

One Comment

  1. barry laughton says:

    “Many ministers were engaged in tasks better carried out by officials, it argued, and parliamentary aides performed “few functions of real value“.”
    I am not sure about the tasks/officials bit. I think the Sir Humphries are wagging the dog as it is. If there are few functions of real value no one should be paid to do them, official or not.

© 2021 Left Futures | Powered by WordPress | theme originated from PrimePress by Ravi Varma