Summertime, and the livin' is easy...

MPs have had their holidays cut.  It means this year they will no longer get a lengthy three month recess, but they’ll still get a whopping 38 days off over the summer.   Easter, Half Term, Whitsun and Christmas breaks have yet to be confirmed for 2011, but last year they were another 17, 10, 10 and 24 days respectively, leaving little time to get down to business in between.   MPs need to buckle down and get to work right now, more than ever.  It would send out the wrong message from them to disappearing for months on end after promising to fix our broken economy.

Politicians still have some way to go to redeem themselves in the public’s eyes, and shake off the bad feelings left over after the expenses scandal.  Cutting holiday time is a nice little publicity stunt, but there is still too much opportunity for MPs to put their feet up, rather than do some work.  There is a lingering feeling that MPs believe they are ‘different’ from the rest of us and think they deserve especially long holidays and other privileges, taxpayers who pay their wages will resent this.

Very often MPs defend the long summer recess, by saying that it gives them a chance to do work in their constituency whilst the House is not sitting.  I’ve got no objection to this and it’s great to see MPs pottering around their local area and spending time with the communities they serve, but it is not compulsory.  Many MPs simply head off on holiday, whilst others are working in their second jobs, earning more cash. 

As taxpayers we pay their wages, it is right that they are accountable to us, and that means a degree of transparency about how they are spending their free time too.  We’re entitled to know if they’re topping up their tan or their bank account, and we’re entitled to call for them to work a bit harder for their £60,000 a year. 

MPs get even longer holidays then school-children; perhaps parliament should be in session all year round?  The new coalition government has a big job on its hands to try and mend our broken economy.  Labour, now in opposition, need to furiously scrutinise what the Government’s up to and hold them to account, they can’t do this in recess.  Less time off for MPs would mean more time to debate legislation and there would be less disruption.  Better yet, we wouldn’t have to put up with silly season in the news any more. 

I for one will be keeping a very close watch on @eyespymp this summer.

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