Part of the debate – in the House of Commons am 4:39 pm ar 6 Chwefror 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Michael Ellis Michael Ellis Ceidwadwyr, Northampton North 4:39, 6 Chwefror 2024

How does the hon. Member know that I am not already a member of a trade union? Actually, I am not, but he did not know that.

Let us talk about trade unions, because this motion is rather alien to the concept of what I understand trade union organisations work to do—indeed, I think they would be appalled by the motion. By the way, as a lawyer, I have always considered that trade union organisations are very robust in defending their own members and their legal rights. They are very robust, and they throw the kitchen sink at it, with the best-quality lawyers and the best-quality legal advice, if they think the case is appropriate. That is how they represent their members, and I think they would be appalled by this motion, because they would say that it is contrary to the ethos of how trade unions work.

If we look at trade unions, we see that they used to support Labour—they still do—in the 1890s and 1900s, when Parliament did not pay salaries to MPs. It was because of trade unions that early Labour Members of Parliament—and before that Liberal MPs—could afford to be here at all. In those days, prior to 1911, if I am not mistaken, Members of Parliament were not paid at all. When they started to be paid in 1911, they were paid £400 a year, at a time when the average salary in this country was £70 a year. Labour argued that it was right and proper that those salaries should be started, because then everyone could afford to become a Member of Parliament. However, what we have to remember—and I encourage those on the Labour Front Bench to remember it—is that that argument is inconsistent with today’s argument, because what they would be arguing for is that only wealthy people would consider becoming Ministers.

Labour Ministers were earning double what Ministers have earned under the Conservative Government since 2010, because my noble Friend Lord Cameron froze ministerial salaries. They have stayed frozen since the 2010 Parliament, which has had a major impact. It is also worth noting that Labour Select Committee Chairmen and Chairwomen and senior Labour MPs on the Panel of Chairs have taken salary increases during the course of these Parliaments. I would suggest that is also inconsistent with the thrust of the argument of those on the Labour Front Bench, because if they think it is too much for one, they should say it is too much for all.

I think there are some significant inconsistencies, and we must bear in mind that we have to serve the public in the best way we can, which means encouraging people to come to this place to serve and to do their duty. I think that Ministers of the Crown—and, in fact, Members of Parliament from across the political divide—do come here with a view to doing that, and that is why I disagree with the motion.