A recent blogpost by TotalPolitics says:
In order to get on top of growing mountains of correspondence and keep on digging through acres of committee and legislative papers MPs are having to take on more staff on a fixed staffing allowance, either paying lower wages or taking people on a volunteer basis.
This comes off the back of Nick Clegg’s initiative to get Westminister interns paid. The blog also addresses Westminister pay in general, quoting a staff survey. For a clearer picture a ScraperWiki user, MemeSpring, scraped the jobs data from Work4MP. This is the historic data from when the site first started in 2004.
So I threw the data into Google Refine and of the 2,661 job postings 30% were unpaid internships (791). Shockingly, there was only ever one internship posting that paid minimum wage and this was with Citigate Dewe Rogerson.
The highest demander of unpaid interns is actually the British Youth Council (with 18 postings) and the MP who advertised the most for unpaid work is Liz Lynne with a total of 10 internship positions. Now these internship listings include Parties and groups like Alcohol Concern. But looking at just MPs, Parties and Westminister, they account for over 300 unpaid positions with most ‘salaries’ consisting of travel, lunch and reasonable expenses.
It’s also odd that this is Nick Clegg’s initiative because the vast majority of internships sought for by political party groups comes from the Liberal Democrats.
So when TotalPolitics writes in defence of Government pay:
The vast majority of people involved in politics are volunteers – canvassers, committee members, deliverers, agents and organisers who want their party to succeed and gain office; of those few who are paid they are by and large paid poorly and work extraordinarily long hours, with precious little thanks.
Could this not be read the other way around? MPs geting paid whilst using an army of young naive interns to do their work for free. No doubt they put these interns on their list of expenses.