How MPs could refuse a pay rise
- 11 July 2013
- From the section UK Politics
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority is insisting that MPs should have a pay rise of around £7,000. Not surprisingly, this is proving a deeply unpopular proposal.
Privately some MPs think they are underpaid. But most realise that a pay rise, albeit with an expenses and pension cut, will not endear them to the voters and are angry that Ipsa has placed them in this position.
So what, then, could MPs do?
1. Change the law: An MP or minister could table a motion to amend the law so that Parliament could take back control over its pay from Ipsa and reverse the pay rise. Parliament is sovereign. Yet at the moment, no one appears ready to table such a motion. Few MPs would want to take part in such an invidious vote. But two Conservative MPs - Douglas Carswell and Stephen McPartland - have said Ipsa should be abolished if it pushes through the pay rise.
2. Instruct IPSA not to pay them the rise: John Hemmings, the Lib Dem MP for Yardley, told BBC Radio 5 live that he had done this in the past and would try to do so again. I don't think he would be successful. Ipsa are adamant that they will pay MPs the rise whether they like it or not.
3. Pay the money back to the Treasury: It is entirely open to any taxpayer to give more money to the government. An interesting issue is whether an MP would pay back all of the pay rise, or a little less to allow for the tax they would already have paid on it.
4. Pay the money to charity: My favourite idea would be to create a new parliamentary charity to which MPs could donate their pay rise. This charity could be an umbrella for various good causes. Why not ask the public which good causes should benefit? In other words, use the controversy as an attempt to start restoring the reputation of MPs. There is a model for this. Dave Nellist, the socialist MP for Coventry South East in the 1980s, was known as the workers' MP on the worker's wage. He accepted only 40 percent of his MPs' salary and gave the rest to Labour and charities.
5. Pay the money to parliamentary staff: The Electoral Reform Society says the extra cash should be used to fund 152 new full-time researchers to help backbench MPs hold the government to account.