If there is too much central government, maybe we shouldn’t regard being a member of parliament as a full-time job. Especially since most of our laws these days seem to come from Brussels; and many of them can’t even be altered at Westminster. So why don’t we limit the periods that parliament sits to three “terms” of eight weeks each?
That might limit the damage they can do. After all, most legislation seems to be trying – usually unsuccessfully – to put right problems caused by previous legislation.
Then we would expect most MPs to have another source of earned income. (What some might choose to categorise as “an honest job”.) That currently seems to be a matter for shame. What other explanation is there for the new requirement for every MP to report source and amount and time involved for all earnings?
There are so many ombudsmen and equivalents around these days that we really don’t need MPs to spend time acting as welfare advisers to their constituents (which anyway probably requires quite different skills from those required for legislators). So we don’t need as many as 650 members of parliament.
Most people don’t vote for individual members of parliament: they vote for parties, whoever is representing them. So we could have constituencies with average electorates of, say, 150,000 (instead of the present 70,000), which would imply only about 300 MPs.
One welcome by-product might be smaller “governments” – with perhaps only a dozen MPs in the Cabinet and a much reduced “payroll vote”. And, of course, with fewer MPs there would be in total much less sleaze.
You might be tempted to think this idea hasn’t been carefully thought out. But I’ve spent nearly half an hour on it; which seems to be a good deal longer than Prime Minister Gordon Brown spent on his silly proposal on MPs’ expenses.