‘I’d give MLCs £20,000 pay cut straight away,’ says Minister

John Shimmin MHK

John Shimmin MHK

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A government Minister says he would give MLCs an immediate £20,000 pay cut.

Policy and Reform Minister John Shimmin made the comment when he gave evidence to Lord Lisvane who is heading an independent review into the functioning of the branches of Tynwald.

Lord Lisvane heard evidence over three weeks and has now completed his inquiries. He will subsequently report back to the Council of Ministers with his findings and recommendations.

Giving his evidence, Mr Shimmin told Lord Lisvane: ‘Quite simply I have no understanding - nor have I ever - of why they are paid the same as members of the House of Keys. To make myself popular I would immediately take £20,000 off them - like that,’ he said, clicking his fingers.

‘I fail to understand how people who have no public mandate or constituents directly responsible for them have the same as those of us who are representing thousands of people and therefore have other responsibilities.

‘They are remunerated for their work if they choose to be in government therefore I think they are overpaid for the work they do.’

Mr Shimmin said: ‘I believe the public and political dissatisfaction with the Legislative Council has meant there needs to be evolution and change. I think the embarrassment we all feel at LegCo elections is one which means there is no public or political stomach for a continuation of the same.’

He rejected the suggestion, however, that LegCo is a retirement home for politicians.

Mr Shimmin told Lord Lisvane that the island’s three chambered parliamentary system differentiates us from others but it is not working. But he said his biggest concern is not the system itself but the parties that make up that system and why there are no women put forward for election to LegCo and why there are so few successful women elected to the House of Keys.

He said there was a case for having LegCo popularly elected but added: ‘Democratically of course it should be. Would it make the system better? I doubt it.’

He said the fundamental problem was a lack of trust in government, greater than he had known in it in 20 years in politics. That breakdown of trust was not going to be healed quickly, he said.

Mr Shimmin, who resigned as Economic Development Minister over the Sefton loans affair, said he was concerned that government was too focused on process rather than outcomes.

He said: ‘When anything contentious comes along it gets pushed out to legal opinion. I think that’s a weakness in our political leadership. It’s okay to make a mistake and take risks.’

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