PERMITTING retired Lords to entertain business contacts in Westminster’s taxpayer-subsidised bars and restaurants will mean “the festive season never ends for peers”, the SNP has complained.
The Scotsman missed a trick here. A more typical headline would have said something about the SNP “picking a fight with Westminster”.
Let me quite clear about this. I am not one of those “Angry Villagers” who is constantly raging about the pay and perks of politicians. You won’t even hear me banging on about abolishing the House of Lords. It is a matter which I have always considered should be treated with some caution. The British political system requires a revising chamber. I have always felt that we should be less concerned about abolishing the admittedly unsatisfactory set-up we have, and more concerned about what would replace it. I think recent “reforms” of the House of Lords have validated my approach to the issue.
Relaxed as I am about the remuneration and privileges of serving politicians, I have to say that extending those privileges to retired peers is totally unjustifiable. I don’t particularly mind that MPs and MSPs and even working peers should have access to what is in effect employer-subsidised bars and restaurants. The nature of the job is such that much useful work is likely to be done in such places. But I fail to see how it is possible to justify extending such privileges to those who are no longer employed by the taxpayer.
There is also a strong whiff of the old “them and us” about this proposal to allow retired peers the use of facilities at Westminster. They get juicy inducements to retire. We get compulsory redundancy.
Personally, I am delighted that we have SNP MPs at Westminster who are prepared to take a stand on such matters. Just think how much better it would be if those SNP MPs were there in sufficient numbers to do more than simply protest.
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