The Reader: MPs earn a fortune while poorest face debt

·3-min read
Sir Geoffrey Cox (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Archive)
Sir Geoffrey Cox (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Archive)

The Government has recently voted to scrap the £20 uplift on Universal Credit which, according to Citizens Advice, will mean a third of people on benefits will end up in debt.

Meanwhile, in the wake of the Owen Paterson case, many MPs have been outed as taking on lucrative additional work.

Sir Geoffrey Cox is among those MPs who appear to find their salary of £82,000 to be inadequate. But, in the course of his long career, he has almost always voted for a reduction in welfare spending.

Sasha Simic

Dear Sasha,

Reports today that Conservative MP Sir Geoffrey Cox has earned at least £5.5 million from his second job since he entered parliament, and that he skipped 12 recent votes on days he was doing paid legal work, are sure to add further fuel to the already extremely damning allegations of sleaze in Westminster. The fact that more than 200 MPs have received earnings in the last year on top of their £81,932 annual salary, which is already far higher than the average UK salary, does beg the question how welfare cuts can be justified.

Emma Loffhagen, Comment writer

The Great Stink of 2021 — the Tories’ sleaze

In 1858 the Thames was little more than a massive open sewer and the stench was so bad that business in Parliament was disrupted. Victorian engineers built sewers which carried away the raw waste, preventing a recurrence of the Great Stink. A century and a half later, and our government forced through regulations that would have allowed water firms to dump raw sewage into our rivers. The huge backlash against this environmental vandalism forced them to U-turn.

Now, however, comes the Great Stink of sleaze. This episode again prompted condemnation of our Prime Minister. A scheme was hatched to stop the censure and suspension of a Tory MP guilty of misuse of his position to lobby for companies. The result was yet another huge backlash which derailed Johnson’s manipulations. The Tories’ lead in opinion polls has been reduced. And now his own actions face searching scrutiny as the sleaze spreads.

Pete Milory

Dear Pete,

The Government’s attempt to neuter parliament’s independent standards system has certainly backfired and put the spotlight firmly on MPs. The fact some can earn hundreds of thousands of pounds working second jobs does not sit well with the public. Opposition parties have accused Boris Johnson of “running scared” over his failure to address the growing scandal and you are right the scrutiny is only going to increase. He surely must address the public concern soon.

Rachael Burford, Political reporter

It’s selfish not to wear a mask on the Tube

Last week, after two years of doing all the right things, on the eve of getting my booster jab and a week after getting my flu jab, I finally tested positive for Covid. There is only one place where I could have been infected and that is on public transport. I would just like to thank my fellow travellers who refuse to wear a mask. Because of your selfishness, I now have to wait anxiously until December 3 before I can even book an appointment for a booster jab.

Peter Wilson

We must face up to warming

One of the saddest insights to come out of COP26 is the warming suffered by the global south. People there move further north to gain some respite in Europe, one of the continents responsible for carbon rises — only to be turned away. We are the cause and we turn our backs on the consequences.

Tony Howarth

Read More

What the papers say – November 12

Geoffrey Cox claims thousands for second home while renting out London flat

Chancellor: Government must ‘do better’ on issues surrounding standards

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