Monday, February 23, 2009

Ministerial perks

Ed Vaizey and Iain Dale have argued that the perk of the ministerial car and driver is just one example of a luxury we should no longer be awarding ministers.  It’s a relatively low cost saving, but could of course be aggregated with a great many others.  Tom Harris defends the limo here, saying that hair-shirting MPs is a silly idea, that having a car and driver is a very welcome thing after a late night at the House of Commons, and that all this is getting out of hand:

Yes, a ministerial car is a perk. So let’s hear it for perks! Because if you’ve just had a 12- or a 14- hour day and you’re leaving the Commons after the last vote, it’s wonderful to be able to slide into the seat of a car and relax while you’re taken home, knowing you’ll be lucky to get six hours sleep before your ministerial diary kicks in the next morning. I don’t grudge that privilege to any serving minister and I wouldn’t begrudge any future Tory minister, either.

Well, a couple of points are probably in order here.  Fine, let’s hear it for perks.  Having a car to drive you home after work or work functions is a pretty regular benefit that executives in private companies get.  It is, of course, taxable as a benefit in kind.  Astonishingly (I bet you can see where this is going) the ministerial limo is not taxable.  14 hour days are not the preserve of MPs – the rest of us have to manage ourselves.

A thought does occur, however.  After a long day in the office, if you can’t face public transport and haven’t got your own car, there’s this wonderful service where, for a small fee, a car and a driver will appear and drive you all the way home.  Taxis I think they’re called…

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Blogger Aaron Murin-Heath said...

This populist flagellation of MPs really is boring and not at all productive.

They're elected officials. We send them to Westminster to govern the country. Why can't they have a bloody car? Surely there are more important things for Ed Vaizey and Dale to get worked up about?

It's just crap populism. I despair, I really do.

6:16 pm  

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