Friday, 15 May 2015
Yet more lords
I see from today's paper that David Cameron has appointed an economist called Jim O'Neill, famous for coining the term BRICs to describe the large and increasingly influential economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China, to be Commercial Secretary at the Treasury. I suspect a few of the 330 Conservative MPs, some of whom will have toiled hard and long to retain or win their seats, or get selected for a safe seat, will be a bit miffed and feel that they could do the job just as well. I feel some sympathy with them.
But personally I am made even more indignant that Cameron is perpetuating the daft system by which, as well as bringing an "outsider" into the government (for which there can sometimes be a good reason) he also gives the lucky recipient a fancy title for life, the right for his children to call themselves Honourable, and at the current rate, £300 of our, taxpayers' money (in other context the Tories are very fond of making that point) for every day he chooses to "sign in." (Less fortunate citizens receive £66.45 a week, yes, a week, of our taxpayers' money when they "sign on" for Job Seekers' Allowance (JSA), as unemployment benefit is now pointedly called.) Oh, and under current proposals, or rather lack of them, that £300 a day is for life too, though the right to JSA runs out after 182 days.
For the life of me I cannot see why, when it is necessary to bring an "outsider" into the government, he or she can't be given the right to appear before either House of Parliament, or any of their committees, in order to make statements and respond to questions. This could be achieved by a simple amendment to the rules and conventions until the expensive and undemocratic flummery of the House of Lords is ended and a democratic second chamber substituted.
Unfortunately such common sense reforms are not to be expected from this government and all we can do for the next five years is fume.
Will there also be "resignation honours" even though hardly anyone has actually resigned?