As part of the ongoing “cash for access” scandal, Malcolm Rifkind said the following about the salary paid to MPs:
I think also if you’re trying to attract people of a business or professional background to serve in the House of Commons and if they’re not ministers it is quite unrealistic to believe they will go through their parliamentary career being able to simply accept a salary of £60,000.
That sounds a lot to a lot of people earning less than that but […] the vast majority of people of a business or professional background earn far, far more than that.
I’m sorry, but although that might very well be the case in the City of London, in Scotland and other non-metropolitan parts of the UK, only the select few earn in excess of £60k. I think the problem is that the MPs are living in a London bubble full of the über-rich and famous, and they almost feel like the poor relative in comparison.
However, there’s absolutely no law that a country’s parliament must be placed in the largest city. Washington DC didn’t even exist when it was made capital of the US (the capital was moved from Philadelphia to an area outwith the territory of the states), and Germany thrived when the capital was Bonn (by no means a big city).
If living and working in London is too dear and overwhelming for UK parliamentarians, perhaps the best solution would be to move the UK parliament up north somewhere. (Westminster is falling to pieces anyway.)
I don’t really care where it gets moved to, so long as it’s not in commuting distance from London. Ideally I believe it should be close to the population-weighted centre of the UK, and not too far from any of the four nations of the Union. My own suggestion would be York (just because I like it, and perhaps due to a bit of Viking nostalgia), but when I mentioned this idea on Twitter, I received many suggestions, such as St. Kilda, Clatt, Stornoway, Liverpool, Inverness, Perth, Dundee, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh. Some of these might have been made tongue-in-cheek, but Liverpool is actually an excellent suggestion.
Once the new political capital of the UK has been chosen, Halls of Residence for MPs can be built next to the new parliament so that there won’t be any need for second home allowances and all that.
Who could possibly be against this plan?