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 70.

    If MP’s wages were dropped to £40K, we may have the bizarre scenario where people want to enter politics because they genuinely want to make a difference, change the UK for the better and improve people’s lives.
    But hey! In a parallel universe maybe…

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    MP's salaries are relatively small considering the power we entrust to them. The problem is not their salaries , if they did properly what they were supposed to do, they would be worth 10 times more and we would think that was a bargain. Collectively they are deficient in integrity not salary

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    So it seems the IPSA regime is not fit for purpose.

    If other public sector workers can't have pay rises because the money in not there then MP's MUST abide by the same rule.
    If/when they repair the ecconomy they can share in the bounty with the rest of us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    51 Adam....

    By all means give them another £20k a year but cut their numbers to no more than 100. We don't need any more than that based on how many it takes to run the US etc...

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    As it seems they're doing such a rubbish job with everything I'd have thought a pay cut would have been more fitting to the situation really!

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    revolting greed when people are having to go to food banks to survive due to these very same politicians policies.

    How dare they compare themselves to doctors and industry leaders. What the hell do they do that's remotely comparibale? They occasioanlly turn up at westminster when ordered to vote on something and then its back to faces firmly in the expenses trough.

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    MPs pay should be linked to PRIVATE sector pay!
    Because government sets public sector pay itself so links to that cannot be ethical. Links to the private sector are in effect links to the prevailing economic climate.
    Independent review is OK in principle but in practice these are usually staffed by the public sector great and good, so that mindset of featherbedding is always there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    This has got to be some kind of joke. How out of touch are the IPPA ? MP's have a real chance to show that they are in toush with reality and refuse this. Any MP that has the audacity to accept this pay rise should hang their heads in shame.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    Do these headteachers and doctors who are getting paid more than MPs have fully furnished second homes provided for them, do they have all travel costs covered, do they get lunch/dinner meetings paid for, do they take non-executive directorships on the side etc?

    If these MPs believe they are worth a pay-rise then they should publicly say so and justify the claim, not hind behind anonymity!

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    Nick Glegg is talking nonsense there is no way he can refuse the pay rise. He could donate the extra money to charity or a cause he wants to support. But he will not be able to refuse the pay rise, this is pure 'spin' to try and recover what is left of is reputation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    They asked the MP's and 69% of them said they were under paid. If you ask anyone they would say that. Basically train them to fill post holes up and pick veg for a month. Then ask the same question and they say they prefer being a MP sorted.

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    Good job (for them) that their pay is not linked to results.

    They'd be using food banks if it was.

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    The increase in MPs wages in obscene as are their large expenses claims which many often abuse. whilst the rest of the country feels the pinch from cuts and struggle to cope with the current economical climate these people think they should get more money. A lot of these MPs have well paid second jobs as company directors. Its clearly capitalism at its worst.

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    That's because he sold his entire credibility in exchange for being allowed to sit in the room with the big boys.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    21.The Artist of Arcadia
    2 Minutes ago ---------------To be honest when has it been different. People are talking about the Tories as if they invented bonuses for MPs. Labours stint of signing off check after check and leaving for the Tories to pick up the bill has caused all this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    I thought we were "all in this together". Oh well I suppose I must have misheard.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    Someone is desperate for public approval following the tuition fee debacle.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    I struggle to believe a word Nick Clegg says

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    I recall reading a recent BBC article into bankers performance. The independent research seemed to suggest that excess wages could have a negative effect on performance?

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    This is an issue I actually feel quite strongly about, and I no my views are almost universally unpopular.

    MP's (along with the Royal Family) are by far our most important public servants and I don't think people fully understand how over worked they are. Our MP's are among the lowest paid in Europe and IPSA is a total joke.

    So yes, MP's do deserve a £20,000 a year par rise.


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