My take on MPs’ expenses

This isn’t really about expenses. What’s going on has been brewing for a long time — it’s a more general disaffection with the structure of politics in the UK and a belief that politicians just aren’t up to the job of taking important decisions. It was only a matter of time before we found a touchpaper issue to really get things going. I’d focus on making Westminster a better decision making body. It’s going to take a long time for that to happen but there are some things that could be done quite quickly. So here’s what I’d do:

  • Halve the number of MPs — randomise which neighbouring constituencies get merged so there’s no argument about it. Do this before the next election.
  • Pay MPs 50% more.
  • Have no expenses system.
  • Don’t allow external employment. Being an MP should be a full time job.
  • All benefits or gifts received externally should be declared as they are now.
  • Have a mandatory 50% number of women candidates for all parties. If a party is to be represented in Westminster it must put up at least equal numbers of women to men.
  • Give up on the idea of surgeries. MPs need to accept that they are employed to take decisions on national issues. Councils are for local issues.
  • Ban donations of more than £5,000. Political donations should be tax deductible.
  • Parliament should sit around the year, MPs should have normal working hours, holidays and sick pay.
  • All votes should be free votes.

My Carbon Emissions for April 2009


I’ve got quite into the idea of publishing my energy use information, partly as a way of keeping tabs on what my big carbon emitting activities are, but mainly because I’m interested in learning how easy (or otherwise) it is to work out. I’ll publish it on the blog every month. If you know better ways of working out the CO2, let me know.

For the month of April 2009:

  • I did 20 days of commuting by train and tube (22 miles each day) = 50.000 kg CO2 (Data source)
  • I drove 373.3 km in the car at 155 g CO2/km = 57.860 kg CO2 (Data source)
  • I took no flights or long-distance trains this month. Yay! = 0 kg CO2 (from Dopplr)
  • And my home electricity usage was 121 kWH = 63.575 kg CO2 (From my Wattson)

So Grand Total = 171.435 kg CO2

Things I’ve left out:

  • Heat and hot water in my flat (this is provided from our onsite CHP and I can’t get monthly data)
  • Food (I don’t know how to measure this)
  • Embedded energy in products I buy (again, I don’t know how to measure this)
  • Electricity and energy in the office (might be able to do this soon)