Paul Flynn: We must look at this from the perspective of outsiders, not by considering subtle points about what is unearned income and what is a salary. If Members want to get outside experience, there are splendid institutions in the House through which we can go off to join the Army, Navy or Air Force, or secure a fellowship with a commercial firm over many months. Those experiences are marvellous, but the important point is that they are not paid. The great resentment among the public arises because we receive a full-time wage and so we should be doing full-time work.
Sir Edward Leigh: The hon. Gentleman talks about resentment, but the public are angry about MPs’ expenses and salaries because they pay for them. Is he really suggesting that the public are furious that a Member of Parliament attends 12 board meetings a year? Does that really make them angry when they are not paying for it?
Hon. Members: Yes!
Paul Flynn: The answer is a resounding yes. I am sure that members of the public will write to the hon. Gentleman, because he explained earlier that he left Parliament, playing truant, to go to court for five months and defend someone in a case, and no doubt he was paid a huge sum to do so, but for that period he was paid to be an MP, even though he could not possibly have performed his duties to the full extent that he should have done. Do the public resent that? Yes they do.