Richard North, EUReferendum, posts on the gathering darkness in respect of the collapse of the Greek economy and the effects it may have on our country in the years to come, ending his post:
"On the bright side, it may take several years – even a decade – for the instability to spread to the UK, giving us time to adjust. The problem is, though, that there is no sign of a Churchill waiting in the wings, ready to lead to nation to the sunlit uplands. There will be no "finest hour " for us with lightweight fools such as Cameron in the driving seat. With him it may be our darkest hour. But how dark – and how quick - no one yet knows."
Whilst not disagreeing with that statement, it generated the thought whether we need another elected dictator at the head of what appears to be a bloated administrative. Some statistics are easy to obtain - the number of MPs and Peers - but not so when looking at local councillors etc. Google managed to throw up this helpful entry along with this BBC article on the cost of parliament - albeit that both sets if statistics are now out of date. However, whilst that data may have changed a tad, it serves for the purpose of this post.
In summary there are 650 MPs; 792 Peers; 433 local authorities according to Wikipedia, of which 353 of these are in England, 26 in Northern Ireland, 32 in and 22 are in Wales - providing the following number of local councillors:
- London borough councillors: 1,861
- English county councillors: 2,270
- Metropolitan borough councillors: 2,555
- English unitary authority councillors: 2,407
- English lower-tier district councillors: 10,575
- Welsh unitary authority councillors: 1,264
- Scottish unitary authority councillors: 1,222
- Northern Ireland district councillors: 582
- Grand total: 22,736
on top of which it has been estimated that there are nearly 100,000 town and parish councillors.
On the question of cost, from the BBC link above we learn that:
"The overall expense for taxpayers in 2008/9 came to £498.4m, down from £531.8m the previous year. The cost of the House of Commons increased by more than £12m, but the bill for running the House of Lords was reduced by £46m.The biggest single outgoing for Parliament was for MPs' salaries and pensions, which came to £157.2m.The total figures include wages for members and staff, building expenses, security and other administration."
Turning to the cost of local authorities, it is possible to access more recent date, courtesy of the Department of Communities and Local Government, from which we find that total expenditure by local authorities was £168billion in 2009/2010 and that they employed 1.8 million full-time employees staff and nearly 50 per cent of service expenditure (gross of income) was spent on these employees.
Which makes the suggestion encapsulated within my post even more pertinent:
".....it would seem that a mix of the US and Swiss system of government might just well provide that for which Richard North wishes. First, reduce the number of MPs elected to Westminster (they wouldn't be needed as all that Westminster would be left with would be matters such as defense of the realm, foreign policy etc); devolve to all county local authorities responsibility for internal matters - health, education, law & order - whilst also giving them tax-raising powers; and combining that with Richard North's idea for annual referendums."
The attractions in that suggestion are numerous, especially as it immediately rids us of unnecessary politicians resulting in less hands in our pockets, coupled with the fact that as cutting deficits is 'all the rage', the question is - as fellow blogger Mark Wadsworth is prone on occasions to ask - Whats not to like?