Surfing past LSE economist Tim Besley’s website, I came across a rather neat paper on the cost of UK MPs, which some enterprising political scientist could easily replicate for Australia.
Working or Shirking? A Closer Look at MPs’ Expenses and Parliamentary Attendance
Timothy Besley and Valentino Larcinese
This paper studies determinants of MPs expense claims in Parliament using the data released under the freedom of information act in 2004. Using a multiple regression framework, we correlate expenses with three sets of variables: constituency characteristics, party affiliation and individual characteristics. We also look at the ratio of parliamentary expenses claimed to votes cast in parliament as a crude measure of value for money. We use the results to reflect on two views of the motivation of MPs: the Public Choice view and the public service view.
The last page of the paper reports the “cost per vote” of each MP: their expenses divided by total parliamentary votes cast. Excluding ministers, George Galloway tops the list, with each of his votes costing taxpayers 1491 pounds in expense claims.