Coffee House

Are ministers better off today?

15 August 2014

1:14 PM

15 August 2014

1:14 PM

From the Barometer in this week’s Spectator.

Home Office minister Mark Simmonds resigned this week, complaining he couldn’t afford to live in London on his junior minister’s salary of £89,435. His resignation echoes that of Lord Gowrie, who resigned as minister for the arts in September 1985 complaining he couldn’t live in London on £33,000 a year. Are ministers better off now than they were then?


— If you uprate Lord Gowrie’s 1985 salary with the Retail Prices Index (which the government now regards as overstating inflation), it would be worth £85,000, less than the sum earned by Simmonds.However, Lord Gowrie’s was a cabinet post and would now carry a salary of £134,565.

— Only when it comes to buying a home are MPs (like everyone else) less well off now than in 1985. While a cabinet minister’s salary has increased by a little over four times, average London property prices (as measured by the Nationwide) have increased by 7.65 times.

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Show comments
  • swatnan

    Why didn’t he just say, he wanted to spend more time with the family, instead of going on about the salary being not enough. et far too much as iit is for what is basically a public service.

    • Agrippina

      Part-time public service, 6mths in the House.

    • Smithersjones2013

      Perhaps he’s after a peerage? They get paid better expenses don’t they?

  • Smithersjones2013

    Home Office minister Mark Simmonds resigned this week

    Can we sack the editor please? There are no excuses for cocking up the first three words of an article. Simmonds was a FOREIGN OFFICE MINISTER. DOH!

    As for MP’s Housing cost woes. Poor little luvvies will have to commute just like the rest of us! Why don’t they live on the HS1 route? 35 minutes from Ashford to London.

    Simmonds is just making excuses anyway because if he had stayed on as an MP UKIP would have defeated him and who wants to be the first sitting (Tory MP) to lose to UKIP?

  • Alexsandr

    I still dont understand why non SE based MP’s need any more than a bedsit in London. Everyone else who works away lives in a small flat or a cheap hotel, why are MP’s different?
    He needs to get in the real world.
    If he wants his wife and kids with him in the week he can pay for it himself.

    II dont see the need for anyone inside a line from Norwich to Kings Lynn to Peterborough to Northampton to Warwick to Swindon and down to southampton needing a second home. Anywhere inside that is quite commutable. People in the real world commute from Worcester, Bristol and Doncaster.

    • HookesLaw

      There is and was a limit that any MP could claim in second home allowance. Price up a bedsit and see if that would be covered by the allowance.
      Remember that Labour created virtually a 9 to 5 House of Commons so why should an MP not have suitable accommodation for his wife and children in a weekday evening?

      Wherever an MP chooses to live and whatever in, there was a limit to the allowance.
      MPs are entitled to expenses. Where they claim for non existent mortgages then that is a fraud.

      • saffrin

        MP’s are entitled to legitimate expenses related to their job, chewing gum and moats have nothing to do with their job.
        Our MP’s are still scamming the system. If they think this has gone away they are mistaken.

        • Agrippina

          Moat and Mr Hogg’s housekeeper we paid for her salary, it was £14,500 he claimed for her too.

          Perhaps we should try that at on our company expenses, please let me know if anyone succeeds.

      • Alexsandr

        so why do they need different rules to what you and I can claim as expenses? If I were to take my missus with me when working away, the HMRC would say the expense was not wholly and entirely a business expense and would tax it as a perk..

    • ButcombeMan


      He ALREADY lived in London

      • Alexsandr

        bedsit in boston?
        oh he cant -its full of immigrants.

  • saffrin

    So, the knock-on effects of their open door mass immigration program has put MP’s out.
    Too bad the article didn’t include the £££k they’ve all made over the years selling off the properties they’ve ALL developed courtesy of Parliamentary expenses scams.

  • Agrippina

    Simmonds the trougher has claimed £1.2 million in expenses since he became tory MP in 2001. He had a 5bed hse Putney, we paid the mortgage interest £2k per mth. He sold that at £537k profit and bought constituency hme 7bed hse, 15acres, heated swimming pool for £900k.

    In 2012/13 he claimed £180k in expenses, wife office manager £25k. He received £50k from Circle Healthcare.

    He says he cannot manage on £28k rental allowance plus £2,500 per child for his 3kids , salary +expenses. Good riddance, UKIP please help the Boston folks to get someone in the real world to represent them.

    • ButcombeMan

      Well said.

      And Simmonds was living in London, on the London Housing ladder, before he became an MP..

      It would be quite reasonable to suggest, that when he was claiming his mortgage interest on his large family house in Putney, that was truly, his family home, not whatever arrangements he then had, for stays in his constituency,

      If it is true that Putney was his family home, (despite his claims otherwise), he was gaming the system and what he was doing is not something any other public servant could have got away with.

      I conclude he has other plans and simply made excuses. We do not have to accept what he says as being the entire unvarnished truth.

      As others say, UKIP are all over him, he was probably stuffed and knew it

      • Agrippina

        Simmonds bought the Putney hse 6mths after he became MP. He sold it in Dec 2010 after the changes to expense claims, but we had paid his mortgage interest for a considerable period of time by then. He made a tidy profit c/o taxpayers.

        • Blindsideflanker

          I hadn’t realised that it was the Tax payer who got him on the London property ladder.

          It stinks, he moans to us that he is marooned in London doing his Ministerial thing while his family is living in the country pile he had the tax payer buy for him. When he went and sold his Putney home.

          What is more sickening is that these journalists who claim to be the sword of accountability swallowed his bleating sob story hook line and sinker.

          • ButcombeMan

            It was not. He was living in London before he became an MP.. He made a deliberate choice to later live in his constituency as his main home and sell his large London family house

            • Agrippina

              The info I have used comes from the Telegraph. I don’t know where he lived before he bought the Putney home.

              • ButcombeMan

                Indications in here:


                Before Becoming an MP

                I was born in Worksop in 1964 and educated at Worksop College and Trent University. I am married to my wife Lizbeth, and we have three children; Isabella, Oriana, and Oliver. When asked what I like doing best I always answer spending time with my family which is my number one

                I was elected onto Wandsworth Borough Council for the Southfield Ward in Putney in 1990 where I remained until 1994 when I stepped down to pursue a parliamentary career.

                In the 1997 General Election I fought against Geoff Hoon in Ashfield. Following this, I was selected for Boston and Skegness from an extensive list of applicants. My victory in 2001 was repeated in 2005 with a massively increased majority and one of the largest swings in the country.

                Since my election I have worked tirelessly on behalf of my constituents on a wide range of issues.

                As an MP

                2001 I won my seat of Boston and Skegness in the
                June General Election. I was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary

                • Agrippina

                  It explains why he went into Parliament as he had no hope of making the sort of monies he has made as an MP. He was a a councillor, so much for his success as a businessman! Thank you.

            • Blindsideflanker

              Well wasn’t he the chump.

              He bleats to us about the consequences of the decision he made.

  • HookesLaw

    Simmonds complained about more than salary. He has been up and down the greasy pole and has spent endless hours away from his family and wants to do something else. No doubt he can earn a good salary with more time at home doing something else. Seems fair enough.
    These are valid choices everyone makes – even journalists and the people who write in their letter columns. As it is, the crass press choose to engage in their usual bit of character assassination – its the easy line to take.

    • saffrin

      No, he knows his seat has got UKIP written all over it. He quite because Cameron wouldn’t offer him a safe one.
      Could it be Cameron knows there are no safe Tory seats?

      • Alexsandr

        the word you are looking for is ‘Frit’

    • Tom M

      “…..and has spent endless hours away from his family and wants to do something else……….Seems fair enough”
      Except that he portrayed it as a surprise. Long before he was elected it must have been obvious what his lifestyle would be and what the job would demand. He’s spinning it when he claims that.

      As the much quoted successful business man he was before I’d be surprised if he spent an awful lot of time with his family then either.

      • eclair

        Surely he had simply been rumbled and it had been suggested that he leave with a modicum, a very small one admittedly, of bravura or he be outed.

  • starfish

    Given that ministers now cannot speculate in londons overheated property market, perhaps they might consider doing something about it

  • The Masked Marvel

    The trough is bigger now and slopped more regularly, isn’t it?

  • goatmince

    We believe ministers need to be paid more than MPs, given that the former don’t seem to be able to take advantage of house swapping like a Maria Miller.