How much do you value your MP?

Not much it seems, if the current furore over the suggestion that they receive a sizeable pay rise is anything to go by.

With marvellous timing, the independent body established to take the matter out of the hands of politicians themselves, has announced our MPs should receive an 11 per cent increase in their salary, taking them to a basic £74,000 a year.

The outcry has been as loud as it is predictable.

" Why should they? That's almost three times the average wage! Other public sector workers have been pegged to one per cent so why can't they...." And so on.

It matters not that the MPs themselves haven't called for the rise nor had any say in what it will be set at.

Nor does it matter, it seems, that the figure proposed is around about the going rate for a police chief superintendent or a head teacher.

The public doesn't seem in the mood to tolerate a rise for MPs no matter what.

Which is, of course, no way to run a country.

In a sane world those who we elect to govern us should receive a pay scale at least as high as those we permit to control our police forces, oversee the education of our children and run a small branch of a high street chain.

Putting aside the old adage that you get what you pay for and paying peanuts means getting, well, you know the phrase, there is an insanity in the argument that politicians should either fund their own careers or live the same as the average man and woman in the street to know what it feels like.

If we want the nation to be run by the very best then we need to pay them a decent wage, one that will attract people of talent as well as undoubted commitment.

But, I can hear the siren voices shouting now : we would pay them the same as a head teacher if only they didn't mess up so much. After all, look at the state of the country.

To which I could say, quite. Think what state we might be in if we had paid for better politicians all along instead of expecting only the already privileged or the committed but under- achievers.

Not that money buys the best of course. You only have to look at the state of such nations as Greece and Italy where MPs' salaries are higher than here to see that betters ages does not automatically mean better decision makers.

On the whole then I do believe our MPs are underpaid and paying less of them more should help attract the brightest and the best into Parliament.

And if we were a savvy people, and understood that it is tough times like these when we need to attract those bright people into government to get us out of this mess, then we would agree to higher wages now.

But we won't. Like some of our MPs, we can't see farther than the end of our prejudices.