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”

End Quote

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 950.

    @927.Frank Church

    ''...don't pay a proper rate you will attract only the rich, retired or the rabid...If we want good MPs, we need to pay them properly...''

    Or maybe ordinary people who think £70k + expenses is a decent salary might be attracted to the job. You know, normal people who can understand and relate to the majority of the electorate instead of the Old Etonians who sneer at £70k

  • rate this

    Comment number 949.

    Those angered by this proposed pay increase could consider signing this petition
    (though it will likely be ignored by Parliament on the grounds that IPSA is independent)

    They could also contact IPSA directly:
    020 7811 6400

  • rate this

    Comment number 948.

    Clegg again showing what a weak politician he is. We want the best MPs for the job pay them well but hold them accountable.

    Remember they run the country not the local sweet shop.

  • rate this

    Comment number 947.

    Difficult one isn't it.
    Except, if they aren't going to give Inflation based Pay rises to the Public Sector, they cannot really take them themselves.

    If they wish to retain any credibility.........

  • rate this

    Comment number 946.

    Same sex marriage occupies hours of Parliamentary Time, as does EU Membership and Scottish Independance. These issues are just Political Hobby Horses.

    But Press Accountability, & Tax Avoidance, things that really do matter practically no progress.

    We are Governed by Incompetents, Highly paid and lavishly entertained Incompetents.

  • rate this

    Comment number 945.

    939 whotobelieve

    I agree we need to improve the selection process – but we need to attract good people too. I don't want professional politicians who will work for peanuts. I want people who have experienced the real world and made their mark.

    Let constituencies pick their candidates – not Con, Lab or Lib HQ!

  • rate this

    Comment number 944.

    If MP's are awarded a big pay rise at this time of austerity for the rest of the country, then IPSA should be disbanded and voters can show their dissent by voting for any other candidate other than the sitting MP.

    MP's must show they are the servants of the country.

    Greed is going to be the downfall of Capitalism.

  • rate this

    Comment number 943.

    What a very sad world we live in where there are those who feel that £70,000 is not a massive amount. The vast majority of people in this country work just as hard as MP's in, arguably just as stressful and taxing jobs, and earn 3x less. This is a disgusting proposal - we are clearly NOT all in this together.

  • rate this

    Comment number 942.

    The requirement for being an MP is that you toe the party line and the local constituency will select you as a candidate if they think you have the best chance of being elected. Whether you become an MP or not depends largely on where you are standing and how popular is your party.
    Where is the procedure that says we are getting clever, able and conscientious people and not freeloaders?

  • rate this

    Comment number 941.

    MPs do not deserve a pay rise. But you have to understand that the current pay arrangements attract MPs who do not care about the money. Fantastic, right? Well how well is that working out for you? Real human beings care about money; they care about their mortgage; they care about providing for their kids. The only people who don't care about money are those with more money than sense.

  • rate this

    Comment number 940.

    927.Frank Church

    "If we want good MPs, we need to pay them properly – and that's more than the proposed £70k."

    They already get 66k, far more for a ministerial job. That doesn't include expenses and gold plated bloated pensions. Why do MP's deserve more than £1500 a week? What do MP's do that is worth more than £225 a day after tax? What exactly?

  • rate this

    Comment number 939.

    927 Frank Church - read my earlier post - politicians are elected by an electorate which is not given the information with which to make an informed judgement even if they could. Initial selection is by party officials who place loyalty to the party, no matter what, before any evidence of ability. Ergo paying more will not make any difference to the quality of our MPs

  • rate this

    Comment number 938.

    It was politicians, aided by their buddies in the banking industry that put the country in the state it is in now.

    ALL politicians are the same, just in it for themselves. Then they tell all to tighten OUR belts with measures that dont affect them !
    Now they want a pay rise !!??
    I will not be voting for ANY politician at ANY election in the future.

    All in it together? They certainly are !

  • rate this

    Comment number 937.

    I bet his replacement won't be as stoic.

  • rate this

    Comment number 936.

    Wouldnt work, sorry.

    MP's have to declare any secondary income so, you will find quite a few wives, sons, nephews etc. get income from companys MP's are "friendly" with. Saves having to declare anything at all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 935.

    You are all in this together, we are all in THIS together...

  • rate this

    Comment number 934.

    Estate agents recently replaced by Bankers in national consciousness of amoral characters. Now add Politicians to the list. Party managers: forget logical arguments for a rise: person in street needs see meaningful example being set. Any pay rise for Politicians now will just reinforce general view of politics as game for SPIVS. Own goal for Politicians.

  • rate this

    Comment number 933.

    The MP demand for pay rise stems from calculations of those paid in the private sector. But this is calculated by London City. If they looked at wages across the countrywide spectrum then they would realise they are well paid. But of course they won't do that. They use a narrow figure to justify this rise. How can they represent a public that they do not share the pain with?

  • rate this

    Comment number 932.

    better take it clegg you wont be an mp for much longer

  • rate this

    Comment number 931.

    From a political point of view, it's stupid because it undermines any "we're all in it together" & "we've moved on since the expenses scandal"

    From a moral point of view, it's greedy and wrong. MPs work for the public, ie us. The public majority clearly oppose this payrise. They can feel underpaid all they want, but they shouldnt get squat!


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