Wednesday, 5 March 2008

MP Pay And Other Piggery

MPs get paid quite enough, far more than most of their constituents. They have most generous benefits, expenses and pension schemes. What is even less popular than the amount they get is that they continue to increase their own salaries above inflation, while holding other workers pay down. They seem to have lost touch with the ordinary people who see owning two houses, and enough cash for lots of holidays and a new car whenever they feel like it, as greedy.

Every receipt for an expenses claim needs to be ready for scrutiny, and their employees should be governed my normal regulations i.e. their staff jobs should be advertised. While the public have their lives more open to government view, MPs are attempting to keep their business secret, they forget that this is our business too.

Other snouts in the trough this week include a procession of pig farmers, in the capital to draw attention to the dire straits the British pork industry finds itself in. Several hundred pig farmers, who, alarmed at plummeting pork prices, presented a petition at Downing Street demanding support for their trade. Consumers may have plenty of cheap bacon but the effect of the increasingly low price for each pig sent for the slaughter is huge numbers of pig farmers leaving the industry. Protesters yesterday were describing the porcine trade as being "in meltdown".

Raising the price of pork in shops and supermarkets would solve part of the problem – the National Pig Association claims that adding between seven and 17p to standard packets of bacon, pork and sausages would be sufficient to secure the industry's future. But experts say that although many supermarkets have raised their prices significantly, few of those extra pennies are making their way back to farmers.

On top of meagre profits, pig farmers are also beholden to international grain prices – which have rocketed in the past year – and competition from pig farmers in other EU countries, who rear their animals to lower welfare standards than are mandatory in the UK. According to the chairman of the British Pig Executive, two-thirds of all imported pork products would be illegal if produced in the UK. Jimmy Doherty, mate of Jamie Oliver and pig-farming presenter of Jimmy's Farm, says the industry is at "crisis point", with farmers losing £27 for every pig they rear.

They have not mentioned the role of supermarkets on this, who wield a huge influence on the keeping the money the farmer gets minimal and the price high to maximise profits. Thats part of the true cost of cheap food, low animal welfare and poor standards for industry workers.

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