According to Wikipedia, it's actually 646. For someone who spends a lot of time complaining (correctly) about the sloppy figures of Polly Toynbee, it's a pity Tim didn't spend thirty seconds looking the number up on Google.
The value of any job in a market economy is set by supply and demand. We have a (relatively) fixed demand for MPs. Some 630 or so (roughly, isn’t it?).
At the last general election some 3,000 people stood for one of those seats. Some will say that some were markedly unqualified (from Monster Raving Loonies to Trots of various types) but this isn’t, in a democracy, a valid position to hold. Any and every one of us is qualified to be an MP: that’s what rule by the people means.This is incorrect - yes anyone is eligible to apply to be an MP - that doesn't mean you're qualified to be an MP. To qualify, you have to convince the largest number of people on the "interview" panel to vote for you. Simply being qualified enough to apply for the job does not mean you're suitable.
Again, this is faulty logic - just because you get lots of applicants, doesn't mean you're over paying them. Looking at my own field, that of Information Technology, the higher paid positions are naturally going to have more applicants. What this means for the employers that pay above the market rate salaries is they get more chance to cherry pick the best people in the field, not that they are somehow overpaying them. I like the thought that we get a higher class of applicant to be an MP by paying more. I'm still not sure how that explains John Prescott though.
So as we have 3,000 qualified applicants for some 600 jobs, clearly, we are overpaying those who do it. MPs pay should therefore be cut, radically.
Possibly not - but as has been pointed out on numerous occassions, the other side of that is that only the rich could then afford to become MPs. By running this policy, you'd effectively ensure that "every one of us is" no longer "qualified to be an MP". So you'd end up moving away from the main starting point of this discussion. Either that or MPs would have to take "consultancy fees" from vested interests, which I'm not convinced would be an improvement on the current situation.
In fact, back in the day when being an MP attracted no salary at all (only Ministers were paid) we had no shortage of MPs. Thus we would have no shortage now if MPs were unpaid now (that is arguable, but do you think there would be a shortage if this were the case?).
If the problem is that MPs are incompetent, then that is a decision for their constituents to deal with. The fact that you may not like someone's choice of MP is not a reason to reduce that MPs wages (again, a certain former deputy Prime Minister comes to mind). It's called democracy.
Cut MPs pay and cut it now!