Wilshire: MP’s salary “close to minimum wage”

4:50 pm - October 16th 2009

by Unity    

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Paul Waugh appear to have uncovered evidence of soon-to-be-ex-Tory MP David Wilshire having an Alan Duncan-style foot-in-mouth moment…

As if things weren’t bad enough already for David Wilshire, here comes what looks like more trouble.

A group of journalism students say that they interviewed him during a trip to Parliament this week – coincidentally just before yesterday’s Telegraph splash effectively did for his career.

The students say that Wilshire came up with the following quotes (which have a strange echo of Alan Duncan’s ‘rations’ complaint) during a mock press conference:

“I work 60-70 hours a week some weeks. When you look at what I earn over the year, it comes dangerously close to working out as the minimum wage”.

With many MPs feeling they have been unfairly treated by Sir Thomas Legg, he reportedly added:

“Is it fair to drive someone perilously close to a nervous breakdown or suicide over a packet of biscuits?…What’s happening at the moment is like being told your salary is £20,000 a year and you earn that much for five years.

“Then after that time someone says to you actually, sorry, we made a mistake, you’re not supposed to be on £20,000 you’re on £15,000 – so can you pay back the extra £5000 a year over the next five years. You’d be pretty annoyed wouldn’t you?”

Waugh’s post, on his Evening Standard blog, indicates that he’s still trying to contact Wilshire to put the these alleged comments to him.

It is, however, well worth noting that even if a backbench MP did regularly put in a 70 hour week in return for their annual salary of £64,766 that would still see them earning £17.80 an hour.

Currently, the National Minimum Wage stands at:

£5.80 per hour for workers aged 22 years and older

– a development rate of £4.83 per hour for workers aged 18-21 inclusive, and

£3.57 per hour for all workers under the age of 18, who are no longer of compulsory school age

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'Unity' is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He also blogs at Ministry of Truth.
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Reader comments

A 60-70 hour week is nothing for most MPs, anyway. That’s at the lower end of the spectrum, and he says “some weeks”, suggesting he normally works less than that.

Urgh, ghastly man.

Hmm. As far as I can tell, in order to be on the minimum wage a backbench MP would have to work something in the region of 32 hours a day. Which might be somewhat difficult, even for an MP.

This is an example of an MP failing entirely to recognise how miserably small the minimum wage in this country actually is.

If an MP worked 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, they’d be paid about £7.40 an hour.

Wilshire also cosponsored Chope’s Bill to make the minimum wage voluntary – ie abolish it

I wonder if he has ever campaigned to change the employment laws, which (except for MPs) certainly do allow instanst dismissal, and prosecution, for the theft of a packet of biscuits. The employer also only needs a reasonable belief of guilt to dismiss.

There was even a case in my local newspaper of a barmaid sacked, and convicted of theft, for keeping money given to her by customers to buy herself a drink, as it was held by the court that she deprived her employer of the profit. A ridiculous case but it does show these MPs live in another world.

7. Bill Phillips

I’m not defending this and it seems a rather stupid thing to say, even in jest, however, the £17.80ph that is quoted doesn’t take into account that MPs have half their salary taxed at 40%, whereas minimum wage earners do not. To balance your post, maybe it would be better to compare take home pay.

Sitting on your ass in an office doing sod all is not work having a group of people doing the work for you is not work. work is when you do something to earn a wage. I mean what the hell do MP’s do for 70 hours a week,eat

There is so much ignorance as to what an MP does, but as I was lucky enough to shadow my MP for a week as part of a course, here’s a brief run down of an average week:

On Monday, they travel from wherever their constituency is in the UK, to London, after which the majority are separated from their families until they get home Thursday evening.

Part of Friday is spent with constituency surgeries and the rest of Friday and the weekend is filled with more constituency work, speeches, meetings, visits, etc. – and if they’re lucky – spending the odd hour with their family. The MP I shadowed has 2 young children who, because of early bedtimes, he managed to see for a total of 3.5 hours over 7 days – and he considered that a good week.

Mon-Thu their work is divided into 4 main parts: Debates at Westminster; Committee work; dealing with problems that their constituents have raised; and meeting with groups and organisations.

Debates in the house regularly go on past 10pm and even if they are not sitting in the house, they are very likely still in their office or at meetings – they need to be close enough to get to the house for a vote.

They have on average 2,000 new pieces of correspondence to deal with from their constituents every week, 52 weeks a year – problems don’t take holidays. Of course they have administrative support, otherwise they wouldn’t be able to represent their constituents in parliament or do vital committee work but there’s not much that doesn’t get seen by an MP.

So indeed – that’s “sod all”.

Oh, yes, and they do manage to eat, although 99% of the time it’s chocolate bars on the run to their next meeting, rather than lavish 6 course lunches every day that Robert likely presumes.

Robert, why don’t you go to your next MPs surgery and ask him what he does, so you could put the “sitting on your ass” comments into proper context.

Then think about whether you’d like a job when the vast majority of you have done nothing wrong but are pilloried from every corner of society.Yes, there are bad MPs but there are bad people in all professions.


NMW is set as at an hourly rate before tax, hence the £17.80 for an MP working a 70 hour week is the correct figure.


Wilshire was one of the 11 sponsors of Christopher Chope’s private member’s bill which sought to add an opt-out into the NWM legislation.

I’m afraid it still grieves some Tory MPs to have to pay their employees more than £1.50 an hour.

I’ll swap him his salary for what I’m on as a single parent who’s “on-call” for the kids at nights…


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  1. Jae Kay

    Wilshire: MP’s salary “close to minimum wage” http://bit.ly/3azewZ – Man behind Section 28, and facing expenses scandal can't STFU it seems

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