Every relevant factor must, however, be considered during the current renewed attempts to settle on a figure that is neither ridiculously and insultingly low nor so inflated that it makes financial gain rather than a desire to serve the public the driving force behind political ambition.
The introduction of an independent States pay panel was a move to be welcomed, but in spite of the objectivity that this encourages, there are still many – perhaps, in fact, a growing number in the light of current experience – who look back with enthusiasm to the days when a seat in the House was a voluntary undertaking with no monetary reward and when honorary service ruled at all levels of public life.
It is unthinkable that we should return to those times, however. They might have produced the political giants of the post-war years, but the restrictions which unpaid political service imposed on universal participation in democracy would now be utterly unacceptable. This is an age when representation from all sectors of society is not only possible, but also to be positively encouraged to ensure that neither money nor class is able to monopolise power. We should, in fact, look back with shame on the era when Norman Le Brocq was compelled to seek small-change subscriptions from the electorate so that he could take his seat as a States Deputy and still put food on the table.
Unfortunately, irrespective of the underlying fairness and democratic purity of significant remuneration for States Members, the principle has failed to ensure that the Assembly, as currently constituted, is ideally balanced or, to be blunt, offering value for money across the board. The combination of stipend and expenses amounts to some £40,000 a year, but whereas this sum is a fraction of what States high-flyers could earn in the private sector, it is also enough to attract others into politics who could never hope to see such rewards in return for their apparent abilities.
One answer might lie in differential pay for those with most responsibility – namely members of the executive and senior scrutineers – although this would undoubtedly be unfair to those backbenchers who diligently carry out onerous constituency beyond the public gaze.
It is, alas, more likely to be the case that no ideal solution will be found and that, as in the UK, where parliamentary expenses have recently become so controversial, frustrated taxpayers will have to settle for complicated tinkering with the system until some kind of least-worst situation can be reached.