Boundary Review puts too many MPs ‘in the pocket of the PM’

Increasing proportion of government payroll MPs reduces backbench scrutiny

 

The government’s plan to cut the size of parliament will increase the proportion of MPs on the government payroll, the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) has flagged.

According to new research, in a 600-seat Commons some 23 per cent of MPs would be on the government payroll, the highest proportion ever. The ERS warns that this could have ‘deeply worrying’ effects on parliamentary scrutiny and is calling for a cap on the number of payroll MPs.

‘This research shows we risk a crisis of scrutiny if the cut in MPs goes ahead without a corresponding cap on the number of payroll MPs,’ ERS chief executive Katie Ghose commented.

Having nearly a quarter of all MPs in the pocket of the PM is not a healthy situation for our democracy.

“By cutting the size of the Commons without cutting the size of the payroll, Parliament’s ability to scrutinise the government will be weakened. Now is the time to take notice of this much-ignored but highly concerning trend.

“While having enough MPs on the payroll is essential for good government, the numbers have been inflating for decades. Being on the Prime Minister’s payroll ties MPs’ hands – they’re locked into collective responsibility, meaning they can’t speak publicly about policy failures or air important differences of opinion in parliamentary debates.”

The final boundary review proposals will be published by September 2018, allowing for implementation in 2020 general election.

See also: Maine makes history as first US state to back fair votes

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.