MPs' pay: Watchdog can 'stick' increase, says Michael Gove

 

Ipsa chairman Sir Ian Kennedy talks to BBC Radio 5 Live's Victoria Derbyshire: ''We've got to end this running sore of British political life''

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Education Secretary Michael Gove has told Parliament's spending watchdog to "stick" a planned £6,000 MPs' pay rise.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) says salaries should increase to £74,000 by 2015, but that perks should be cut and pensions made less generous.

Party leaders have criticised the rise but Ipsa's boss argues it will bring MPs into line with other professionals.

Mr Gove called Ipsa "silly" and said parliamentarians were "well paid".

The watchdog is to consult on the rise but MPs cannot block it because they handed control of the decision to the independent body in the wake of the 2009 expenses scandal.

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The overall package will still cost more than it does now although Ipsa says it's made huge savings already in its short life ”

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The Ipsa proposals include:

  • A salary of £74,000 in 2015, with rises after that linked to average earnings across the whole economy
  • A new pension on a par with other parts of the public sector, moving from a final-salary to career-average scheme, which Ipsa says will save taxpayers nearly £2.5m a year
  • Scrapping "resettlement payments", which were worth up to £64,766 for long-serving MPs still of working age, the first £30,000 of which was tax-free. and introducing "more modest" redundancy packages, available only to those who contest their seat and lose
  • A "tighter regime" of business costs and expenses - including an end to the £15-a-night meal allowance and taxis home after late sittings

MPs are currently paid £66,396, but that is due to rise to £67,060 in April 2014 and rise by a further 1% the following year.

The recommendation amounts to a rise of around £6,300 a year, or 9.3%, on what MPs would be getting in 2015.

Asked whether the extra increase should go ahead, Mr Gove said: "Absolutely not. MPs are incredibly well paid at the moment anyway, as are ministers."

He added: "Ipsa - it's a bit of a silly organisation really and pay rise? They can stick it."

A Downing Street spokesman said: "The cost of politics should go down, not up. And MPs' pay shouldn't go up while public sector pay is, rightly, being constrained."

'Not a pay rise'

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who has said he will not take the increase, said it was "about the worst time to advocate a double-digit pay increase for MPs", adding that the public would find it "incomprehensible".

Labour leader Ed Miliband said he did not believe the rise should go ahead - and confirmed he would not take it if it did, but he said he was confident Ipsa would change its recommendation after a public backlash.

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My favourite idea would be to create a new parliamentary charity to which MPs could donate their pay rise”

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"I don't think MPs should be getting a 10% pay rise when nurses and teachers are facing either pay freezes or very low increases and people in the private sector are facing similar circumstances," he said.

Prime Minister David Cameron has criticised the proposed increase but a No 10 source declined to comment on whether he would be taking it.

Pressed on the question, the spokesman said: "It's not a pay rise. It's a proposal". He pointed out the package was still to go out to consultation and Downing Street would be submitting its own response.

But Ipsa chairman Sir Ian Kennedy defended the proposal, saying: "The history of MPs' pay and pensions is a catalogue of fixes, fudges and failures to act. The package we put forward today represents the end of the era of MPs' remuneration being settled by MPs themselves.

"For the first time, an independent body will decide what MPs should receive. We will do so in full view, and after consultation with the public."

MPs' pay around the world (2012)

Source: Ipsa

Spain

£44,618

France

£52,028

UK (Westminster)

£65,738

Germany

£72,294

United States

£111,251

Japan

£167,784

Sir Ian told BBC Radio 5 Live's Victoria Derbyshire phone-in programme that MPs should be treated like "modern professionals" and part of the package was a "radical proposal" to introduce an annual "report card" to show the public what MPs did for their money.

He said the pay rise proposal was "fair" because MPs' pay had "fallen back" over the years and they needed to properly rewarded for the job they did, adding that the expenses scandal had been the result of too much pay restraint.

Sir Ian said there was never a good time to increase salaries, but said the changes were designed to "last a generation rather than just respond to the latest political issue", and taken together with the expenses reforms would save taxpayers money.

He said he would over the next two months listen to the views of the public who had taken part in the consultation on the Ipsa website, but he believed the package was not over-generous and was in line with previous recommendations by the senior salaries review board and other bodies.

Sir Ian is paid £700 a day and works on average two days a week, which he said added up to an annual salary of between £60,000 and the "high 70s".

Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen backed Ipsa's stance, telling BBC Radio 4's World at One: "I don't believe that MPs are remunerated sufficiently for the job that they do, if you want to attract the right sort of people.

"I don't want Parliament to be only for people of independent wealth, for people who treat it [their salary] as pocket money."

 

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