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 110.

    The IPSA needs to explain its rationale. Since 2009 (when it was set up) the pay for professionals and managers in the salary range £50K-£100K has not really risen. If the IPSA is benchmarking against these (as it should) then there is no case for a rise. Comparing with bankers and CEOs who have given themselves unwarranted pay increases for value destruction are invalid benchmarks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    This recommendation clearly shows the lack of independence at IPPA. It has been shown recently that there is too much "influencing" going on in our parliament.
    Means testing MP's should be the way forward.MP's who don't have well paid jobs outside parliament should be paid the most & the likes of Cameron and the other multimillionaires should pay us for the previlage of governing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    MPs historically received low pay relative to the importance of their role, because they had other income sources. If we want professional politicians, they need professional pay.

    Comparisons with average wages are ridiculous. If the proposals were adopted, MPs would still earn far less than doctors, union leaders and swathes of middle management. Is that how to attract the best? I think not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    Cameron can't do anything about it? Osborne could.
    The budget for MPs' salaries & expenses should be limited to the number of MPs X national average salary. MPs can vote on its distribution but the budget must be limited.
    When do we demonstrate outside Parliament?

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    Clegg's comments are the political equivalent of Starbucks telling us that they have listened to their customers and have made a derisory contribution of tax, so we should now all cheer them and say how fabulous they are.
    We're not that stupid or gullible.

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    This comment will be unpopular I know, but people need to remember this is an "independent" panel. Most of these guys can earn more outside of parliament, they earn a lot less than headteachers, senior civil servants, business leaders etc. Most people seem to think the country is run by a bunch of apes, well, if you pay peanuts you get monkeys!

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    The very few on here who are saying MPs are underpaid should remember that their basic salary is just that - the basic part of their overall compensation. They still get expenses to cover the mortgage, the bars & canteens at Parliament are still subsidised, their pensions are still huge compared to the private sector which pays for them. Don't think for a minute they actually live on their salary!

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    Nick Clegg wouldn't take a pay rise, what like he said his party wouldn't increase tuition fees. I don't believe a word of what he says or any politician for that matter. Liars, tax thieves, above the law and never brought to account for their actions. What has happened to the UKs one globally admired political system? It makes me sad :(

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    Anyone hoping for a riot must be hoping they won't go near their home or business as they are peoples livelihoods.

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    More electioneering from a traitor who sold his own party and the city of Sheffield down the river. And to think he is due to call other people hypocrites. (BBC article of Clegg criticising Labour)

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    It's the hypocrisy of these politician's I can't stand. Hypocrisy is one of the worse of human traits and our political class are riddled in it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    If the PM cant block it, surely the answer is simple... Make public all those who accept these outrageous pay rises.
    Maybe that added pressure will stop them from taking it and encourage more to publicly reject it in advance as well!

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    In an anonymous survey of me, my wife, my two daughters, the dog and the cat 100% of us said we deserved more.

    Unlike the privileged of Westminster we don't have a team of lackeys fighting to ensure we get it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    The whole argument for austerity will be undermined if this payrise happens. It's like they've finally been found out as gross hypocrites and they aren't even bothering to pretend they have integrity any more.

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    This unrepresentative parliament plays right into the hands of the independence movement north of the border! They seem to think the public have short memories, it wasn't that long ago the expenses scandal occurred!

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    So they think they are overpaid, it would be nice to see them trying to live on a wage the rest of the country has to live on.

    A 20% cull would of MP's would be a start, just to help out with all the austerity measures of course.
    Odd that this has never been suggested by them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    If a pay rise for MPs is recommended, those who take it should be named, and voted out at the next election!

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    You can't make it up. Days after Osborne telling us it's austerity for years ahead, MP's are on the verge of a pay rise.

    I'm sure a lot of people who get up at 4 in the morning to keep the country going and have nothing left at the end of the week feel underpaid. But most people don't get expenses and second homes.

    66k for a job you're supposed to be passionate about seems pretty good to me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    The government wanted to cut the number of MP's but it was scuppered by Labour , at the very least every minister , leader and shadow opposites should refuse this and the leaders should threaten to withdraw the whip if MP's vote in favour .We still have a situation of MP's abusing expenses like those Labour and SNP politicians flying business class to London all the time .

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    At the risk of repeating myself yet again - You Brits will never learn. Stand up for yourselves and kick them where it hurts. But I forget there aren't many Brits in the UK now


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