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Where have all the MPs gone?

The biggest disadvantage of being retired is the winter; cold, wet and windy afternoons with nothing to do but roam around the TV channels looking for some form of entertainment. Particularly desperate souls might light upon the BBC’s Parliament channel to fill time.

I have had an interest in politics all my life. I follow local, regional and national trends to see how the system is working for us. Election times keep coming around, bringing a flood of pamphlets, emails, phone calls and the like. We are relentlessly bombarded with promotional material as candidates seek to secure their place in a position of power. They promise the earth and tell us how hard they will work on our behalf.

The results are announced and the victors set off with our aspirations ringing in their ears, determined to put things right and look after our interests. They promise to manage the country’s economy, defence and National Health Service with us in mind. Through Parliamentary sessions, Select Committees and meetings with constituents, our elected representatives can widen their knowledge of all things that could improve our lives.

An uncharacteristically packed House of Commons, following the Queens' Speech and State Opening of Parliament.
Image: Catherine Bebbington/Parliamentary Copyright, sourced from Flickr and used under Creative Commons licence

But there’s a problem. The population of MPs numbers 650 but every time I watch the Parliament channel - if it’s not the Queen’s Speech, Prime Minister’s Questions or the Budget - I’m lucky if I see more than 20 members in the chamber. So where are they and what are they doing on our behalf?

Allowing for sickness, committee work, overseas delegations, the PM at the test match and so forth, we still appear to be around 400 short in the Commons at most times when the house is supposedly in session. And it is being reported that MPs are being offered a rise in pay of £8,000 over the next two years; that’s 650 salaries at £74,000 a year = £48,100,000 not including expenses.

Despite only a very small number taking part in debates, many MPs do turn up for votes. So how can we get more of them into the debates? Perhaps we should look at product placement opportunities when MPs are sitting in the house. Suits, shoes, shirts and ties are all possibilities; perhaps even sleeping pills or a crafty pasty.
Perhaps we should look at product placement opportunities when MPs are sitting in the house.

Now I think I have solved the problem; I think I know where they are. We can’t find them in the house yet they tell us that they are working hard, so maybe that phrase should be redefined. It’s a place of perfect safety; a place where no reporter, constituent or even party whip will ever find them. They are all in the cess of all cesses: the extended Parliamentary re-CESS!

Story added 1st October 2013

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