UnionistLite comments on his excellent blog that one solution to the troughing of Northern Ireland MPs might be, in part at least, the end of multiple mandate. He’s right, of course; I would extend that one person one mandate principle all the way down to district and borough councils, massively extending the (currently execrable) base of public representatives in Northern Ireland.
It doesn’t solve the major bone of contention that is Sinn Féin MPs receiving expenses and salaries for refusing to represent their constituents.
The disgrace of Sinn Féin MPs depriving their constituents of representation, conveniently forgetting that in some constituencies there are many more citizens voting in favour of candidates proposing to actually go to Westminster, has long since stopped being funny. It’s time to sharpen some minds across the Commons with some exciting proposals.
- First, no taxation without representation should cut both ways for our republican friends and all MPs. People elected at a general election should not expect to collect a penny from the taxpayer unless they become members of the House of Commons. This should include the taking of an oath. And no, it should not necessarily be an oath to the monarch. Perhaps an affirmation to their constituency and to Parliament would suffice. At that point the person should be able to describe herself an MP.
- Failure to take the affirmation within one month of election would result in the end of general payments, and the allocation of the seat top the second placed candidate at the election. It wouldn’t be pretty but it would work.
- The Commons would operate an expenses regime on the basis of participation, and every claim would have to be submitted in writing with explanatory notes; publication of the expenses would be made on the Houses of Parliament webpage at the end of each month.
- No more John Lewis list.
In addition, what would be so terribly wrong about a Halls of Residence for MPs? I can see some shortcomings, such as the susceptibility of such a place to intercepted communication and spying, but it would seem to me that innovative solutions such as these need seriously to be looked at. It would certainly be better than the crazy situation currently open to MPs.
Sinn Féin MPs should not be penalised for being republicans and for not taking an oath of allegiance, and they arguably have a democratic right to state their opposition to the system which makes Parliament sovereign over Northern Ireland; they should certainly not do so whilst simultaneously lining their own and their party’s coffers.