Thursday, June 03, 2010
During Prime Ministers Questions yesterday, David Cameron said -
"Transparency on pay is an important principle, because it is good for democracy and accountability if we know how much people in the public sector are earning. I also think that it will help us to control public spending. When people see how much people are paid in the public sector, the pressure will be on to keep top pay levels down. It would also be worth while having a maximum multiple of 20 times earnings; we are holding a review to get that done. People at the top of a public sector organisation should not earn more than 20 times what people at the bottom earn. It is that sort of progressive idea that we are looking forward to introducing."
Such a move to greater egalitarianism in the public sector could, of course, be extended further afield. If there is a case for limiting pay differentials within a public sector organisation to 20 fold, then is there not a case for limiting pay differentials to 20 fold throughout the entire and combined public sector? And if there is a case for doing this in the public sector, then does that case not apply across society as a whole? No-one whether they were in the public sector, the private sector or what is described as being the third non-profit making sector of the economy would then be paid more than 20 fold the level of the national minimum wage. And why should the principle be limited to wage payments only? What of a 20 fold limit on both wealth, shareholding and property holdings? The only problem I can see with this further expansion of the 20 fold principle is that some people have zero holdings in these areas. And 20 times zero is zero. A way around this difficulty would to be to introduce legislation to provide for minimum levels of holdings of wealth, shares and property ownership. The alternative of having the State confiscate the lot might be going a bit too far for Cameron.
At least, it looks as if the Conservative Party will have to drop all that talk about egalitarian moves being the politics of envy. Comrade Cameron has started to break the mould. If the present Coalition collapses, perhaps he could seek a Conservative/Socialist Campaign Group Coalition. He only needs to extend the logic of his stance at PM's Questions.