Nick Clegg: I wouldn't take pay rise for MPs


Nick Clegg: "It would be impossible to explain to the public why MPs should be treated so differently"

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Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has said he would not take a big pay rise even if one is recommended for MPs.

He said people whose living standards were being "remorselessly squeezed" would find a big rise for MPs "impossible to understand".

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority is expected to say backbench MPs' £66,000 salaries should increase to more than £70,000 from the election.

Prime Minister David Cameron has said such a plan would be "unthinkable".

But the BBC's Nick Robinson said the PM could not block the recommendations and advisers had warned him MPs would reject any bid to do so in the Commons.

The BBC's political editor added that the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority's (Ipsa) recommendation would be "likely to cause outrage from voters at a time when there is significant pay restraint in the public and private sectors".

'Show restraint'

Ipsa, which was set up as an independent body to regulate MPs' pay and pensions in the wake of the expenses scandal, is expected to announce its initial recommendations later this month.

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What must have seemed a good idea at the time of the MPs' expenses scandal is now giving the prime minister a political migraine”

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MPs and members of the public will be able to take part in a consultation before Ipsa publishes its final plans - expected in the autumn - which would then come into force without the need for further legislation.

Reports in several newspapers this weekend suggest its initial recommendations will call for a rise of about 15% in the basic salary of a backbench MP from £66,396 to a sum closer to £75,000. MPs would, however, have to pay much higher contributions towards their pensions.

Asked about the reports of a proposed pay rise for MPs, Mr Clegg, the Lib Dem leader, said the recommendations were a matter for Ipsa and for MPs to decide themselves whether or not to take any rise.

Speaking in Pakistan, Mr Cameron said he did not know what Ipsa would say but added: "Whatever Ipsa recommends, we can't see the cost of politics or Westminster going up. We should see the cost of Westminster go down.

"Anything would be unthinkable unless the cost of politics was frozen and cut, so I'll wait and see what Ipsa have to say. What I said to Ipsa was that restraint is necessary."

The government could propose a motion calling for Ipsa's recommendations to be ignored, but Nick Robinson said this could "undermine the independence of the new system" and would be unlikely to win enough support from MPs.

Keith Vaz MP: "This has always been a point of contention"

And the Mail on Sunday reported that a source close to Labour leader Ed Miliband had said: "We will view any rise for MPs in the light of the current climate of economic austerity.

"It has to be seen in the context of the decision to limit public sector workers' pay increases to 1% and the fact that some private sector workers have had their pay cut."

The Commons voted against a 1% pay rise in 2011 and last year agreed to extend the pay freeze into 2013. MPs' salaries are due to rise to £67,060 from April 2014.

Public sector salary comparison

In an anonymous online survey of 100 MPs conducted for Ipsa - the results of which were published in January - 69% said they were underpaid. The average level suggested for the appropriate level of pay was £86,250.

'Last thing on earth'

Former Labour minister and chairman of the Home Affairs select committee Keith Vaz: "The last thing on earth MPs should be talking about is their own pay."

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Running a modern parliament in the 21st Century costs money”

End Quote Tom Harris Labour MP

Former children's minister and Tory MP Tim Loughton: "This isn't going to happen. It would be completely inappropriate for us to accept it at the moment. It sends the wrong message to the rest of the country going through a tough time."

Matthew Sinclair, of the Taxpayers' Alliance, which campaigns for lower taxes, said there would be public outrage should the rises go ahead.

He said: "MPs are already very well paid both in terms of European politicians and the average salary in this country.

"It would be particularly egregious for politicians to be handed a whopping great pay rise while hard-pressed taxpayers tighten their own belts."

Former Labour minister Tom Harris called for Ipsa to be abolished and MPs to be given the final say on issues of parliamentary pay and expenses.

"If we're going to get the blame for rises in our salary, we might as well take the responsibility too," he wrote in the Daily Telegraph. "The complaints will continue, but at least they'll be aimed at the right people."

And he suggested efforts to cut the "cost of politics" were futile. "Running a modern parliament in the 21st Century costs money. And if it doesn't, you're not doing it right."

MPs are paid more than their counterparts in Spain and France but less than legislators in the Republic of Ireland, Germany and Italy. An Ipsa study in 2012 found the mean average for pay across major democracies was just over £86,000.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    If they try to push a pay rise through then they are a bloody disgrace, and unworthy of the title 'honourable'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    The trough deepens. What a surprise! Knighthoods for Ipsa methinks.

    As for Clegg. I simply don't believe him.

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    This from the same Nick Clegg who does a U-turn on every other promise he makes. 'I won't be taking a pay rise...ooooh I get an extra £8,000 a year. Uh...uh the Tories made me do it!!!' Grow a backbone mate, stick up for your principles.

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    I confess that when I first saw the story about MP's getting a substantial pay rise, I thought it was a joke.

    How very silly of me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    Good for Nick Clegg, lets hope that he is the first of many. Perhaps they could donate the extra to charity if they must be given it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    Nice for them to have the choice of not taking it. I wonder how many people will be given the option of "take it or leave it" on their next pay cut?

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    I should think so. You really couldn't make this up could you, MP's to get a pay rise. Sounds like something right out of a satirical comedy on HBO about capital hill. But its not.....Madness.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    If MPs want a big ise they should show more dedication. I'm sick of seeing TV coverage of debates with only 40 MPs present at stupid hours in the morning. The Parliamentary timetable should oblige full-time dedication to the House so many days of the week and constituency work the others. If MPs can't conduct their business in a professional manner they don't deserve a "professional salary".

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    Effective leadership is leadership by example and not

    “well I don’t want a rise but hey, what can I do about it?”

    What example does this set ?

    All in it together? – I think not

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    I think the British public have already been pushed to the limit and this could send them over the edge. The increase MP’s seek is nearly as much as many people earn. If they are not happy with their lot they can always move on as we will soon find someone else just as or probably more capable of doing their job.

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    The best way to ensure you have the right people in the right job and doing the best job they can is to not pay them anything at all. If they are doing the job on a voluntary basis you can be sure they are doing it because they want to and not because they are being paid to do it.

    When it comes to politics im sure there are many people willing to offer thier services for free for the good of all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    Is this Newsworthy?
    Every Political Party represents the rich.
    Empty gestures such as Nick Clegg's are an insult.
    Never, in the past 50 years, has the gap between rich and poor been so great.
    We are asked to worship the golden calf of consumerism and It will end in disaster.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    To the streets.... >>>

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    MP salaries should be tied in some way to minimum wage or average wage, or with payrises equal to those recieved by beneifts claimants. That way the MPs have a personal stake in looking after people at the bottom of the pile.

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    I lost my job and have to claim JSA. The law states that I need £71 a week to live but I have to live on just over £50 and I have housing and other bills to pay out of that. i find this move by MP's to award themselves a huge pay increase to be obscene. Just goes to show that MP's are only interested in looking after themselves and we have never been in this together,

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    Mr Clegg should be allowed to make his own choice. MPs in general though should get pay rises that mirror society in general. Don't let's forget that a century or so ago there was no pay for MPs. The result was that only wealthy (men) could enter Parliament. If you reduce MP's pay it won't stop Cameron and cronies being there.

    Thanks BBC for allowing us to comment on meaningful issues at last!

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    Can't believe some of the comments from MPs - more than 60% of them for goodness sake - who say that they are meeting doctors and headteachers et al who all earn more than them... Incredibly, and outrageously, these MPs feel hard done by.

    Have they learned nothing from the past?

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    There is only one way to describe this...Outrageous.
    I suggest that every MP who accepts this pay rise be required to sign a register saying he has taken this money. Then the electorate would be in no doubt who the “All in this together” hypocrites are.
    And we would see how long they remained MP’s.
    The British people need an electorate spring.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    If they are wanting another riot they are going the right way about it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    Let's get real here. Being an MP is an important job, in Parliament and in the constituency. £70,000 is not a massive salary in relation to the job. If we want the right people doing a good job the salary should be appropriate. There was a time when MPs weren't paid and the Commons was just for the rich. Undermining MPs and Parliament with these negative attitudes is undermining democracy.


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