MPs' pay: Politicians criticise 'inappropriate' 11% rise

 

Danny Alexander told Andrew Marr the proposed pay rise was inappropriate

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Plans to award MPs an 11% pay rise have been criticised across Westminster, with one minister describing them as "utterly incomprehensible".

Parliamentary watchdog Ipsa is set to recommend a rise of £7,600 to £74,000, to come in after the 2015 election.

Ipsa does not need to get the agreement of Parliament to bring in the changes.

But Treasury minister Danny Alexander urged it to reconsider, saying it would be "wholly inappropriate" at a time of curbs on pay in the public sector.

The rise - to come into effect in May 2015 - comes as part of a package of changes to MPs' salary and benefits which would see some allowances scrapped.

MPs currently earn a basic salary of £66,396 but the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority is expected to say on Thursday that their pay has fallen behind in recent years and a substantial "one-off" rise is justified.

The BBC's political correspondent Gary O'Donoghue said Ipsa would conduct a statutory review of pay at the start of the next Parliament, at which point the rise could theoretically be reversed, but this remains unlikely.

'Preposterous'

All three party leaders disagreed with the move when it was first proposed earlier this year but the watchdog is expected to say it will press ahead with the rise - expected to cost the public purse £4.6m.

Mr Alexander, Lib Dem Chief Secretary to the Treasury, urged the watchdog to reconsider, saying it must take into account public opinion as well as "the wider economic climate and the climate of people's living standards".

It would be "wholly inappropriate for MPs to get such a large pay rise when every other public sector worker sees their pay rises capped at 1%," he told the BBC's Andrew Marr show.

Conservative defence secretary Philip Hammond said he would not personally be accepting the pay increase, saying it was the "not the moment" to do so.

"Whatever the rights and wrongs of whether MPs' pay is too high, too low, comparable to other people, at a time when we are asking people across the public sector - nurses, doctors, teachers - to accept pay restraint, members of Parliament have to be seen to be leading the way," he told BBC Five Live's Pienaar's Politics.

He suggested the Cabinet would take a "collective line" on the issue of whether to accept the rise or not.

Analysis

It is regarded as a no-brainer by MPs that many voters loathe the idea of politicians being paid more, especially at a time of austerity.

The main party leaders conclude that it's too politically toxic.

But privately a lot of MPs believe a pay rise, however unpalatable to taxpayers, is justified.

Like so many workers, they have seen real-terms pay cuts in recent years (albeit on salaries at least three times the average).

Other perks have also been trimmed since the expenses scandal.

Few are keen to put their head above the parapet, but those who have argue that MPs' pay has fallen behind that of head teachers, doctors or local council leaders.

The argument goes that people from those middle class professions could be deterred from running for Parliament.

"We could end up with a Commons full of toffs and nerds," a former MP once said to me, adding that this would be an unedifying combination.

But no matter how many arguments are put forward in favour of a hefty pay rise for MPs, it's not going to be an easy one to sell to the public.

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls told the Dermot Murnaghan show on Sky News that the proposed increase was "preposterous" and he could not defend it at a time when people were facing a "cost of living" crisis.

But former Labour foreign secretary Jack Straw, who is retiring as an MP in 2015, said the party leaders could not complain about the decision after handing responsibility over to an outside body.

"What I'm concerned about is to ensure that the pay is sufficient to attract people from modest backgrounds who have not inherited a house, who don't have family or personal income, but who are going to make a career out of politics," he said.

And Conservative backbencher Sir Peter Bottomley said it was sensible for MPs' pay to be set by an outside body at the start of each Parliament, with a regard to how to attract MPs from all walks of life.

"The only way MPs could overturn this is to defy their leaders and pass a law saying Ipsa is abolished or it will be ignored," he said. "That's impractical given the public interest in setting up Ipsa in the first place."

Tea and biscuits

A Downing Street spokeswoman said MPs' pay was "a matter for Ipsa" but ministers believed the "cost of politics should be going down, not up".

Ipsa previously said it had looked at increasing the current salary of £66,396 to anywhere between £73,365 and £83,430, but opted for a lower figure "in recognition of the current difficult economic circumstances".

After 2015, it proposes that MPs' wages would increase annually in line with average UK earnings.

At the same time as recommending a pay rise, the watchdog is also expected to announce a squeeze on pensions and the resettlement grants that MPs are given when they leave Parliament.

The amount that MPs have to contribute to their pensions is set to increase while MPs' final salary scheme is expected to be downgraded to a career average in line with the rest of the public sector.

Other changes would also see a £15 dinner allowance and claims for tea and biscuits scrapped. And it would mean taxpayer-funded taxis were only permitted after 23:00.

There would also be a crackdown on claims made for running second homes, with costs such as TV licences and contents insurance no longer being met.

 

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  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 1849.

    And Osbilderbeg says there is more to come-probably saving it for his Christmas day speech.

    If the Queen says nothing again-like after the bank scandal, we should get out in number with peaceful protests.

    I don't mind paying for good leaders, where the dickens are they???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

  • rate this
    +12

    Comment number 1848.

    We are going to need a very long wall to line them all up against when the revolution comes.

    Scum sucking parasites.

  • rate this
    -6

    Comment number 1847.

    I would prefer that MPs are paid a salary comparable to a high court judge, as they are legislators who will often have quite a number of lobbyists, corporations and wealthy individuals looking to finance their campaigns or other political activity (as well as what happens after their terms have finished). The issue brings in the wider question, who pays for our democracy?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1846.

    With some comments saying a £75,000 salary isnt excessive, I would be inclined to agree if nobody earned less than that , then a mortgage on 3 times this amount would be £225,000 a nice house in todays prices and could be well afordable to these folk, but its never going to happen is it

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 1845.

    OK, So they say if you pay peanuts you get monkeys. As we have a load of useless monkeys in Parliament why would we want to start paying them more? Do we think they would up their game? What do they do anyway, most of the real work seems to be done in Brussels now? Our lot are just free-loading. Time for a good clearout of the dead wood and a 21st Century system initiated.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1844.

    If the majority of the MP's actually gave the impression of earning the money they are paid etc., I suppose that it would not be so much of an insult to the general public. If we are supposed to be GB Ltd, then what makes these individuals qualified to do the jobs they do. An good MD of a thriving company employs based on qualifications and skill sets, not on allegiances, political or otherwise.

  • rate this
    +41

    Comment number 1843.

    From the 1st of October this year minimum wage increased by 12p , if you put things into perspective from £6.19 to £6.31 , which is about 2 per cent rise , the govt always use percentages to publicize a increase in wages it sounds better , i mean 11 per of 66k = £7600 , and 2 percent of £6.19 =12p sounds bad, this govt is one sided and very unfair , unless you are very wealthy .

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1842.

    And these people are supposed to represent their constituency, ha ha what a joke.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 1841.

    I think the last time a government got so out of step with the people someone said "Let them eat cake".

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 1840.

    11% on top of all the 'extras'.Paid directorships, advisors to companies, on the board of this, on the board of that etc


    M.P's should have one job only. Being an M.P! 24/7 and then a pay raise in line with everyone else.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 1839.

    @David C

    "This comment thread has been hijacked by MP bashers that won't listen to reason."

    Westminster has been hijacked by Oxbridge profiteers with no appreciation of the problems of their constituents.

    They had no credibility left after the last expenses debacle. Now they are into the realms of being likened to Ceaușescu with his 'sell the nation to pay off the debt'. Not a happy ending.

  • rate this
    -11

    Comment number 1838.

    @589 Here, here. Work hard at school, at university and at work. Get a better job, be better paid.

    Given the size of the role that an MP is supposed to perform, a salary of £75,000 is in no way excessive.

    If you want good leaders, you have to pay for them and if you want a salary like that, get involved and get yourself elected. Signing an e-petition or tweeting your dismay doesn't cut it

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 1837.

    Dear Mr Moderator. Was it the pitchfork or the cheap return train ticket that you didnt like. Pathetic

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1836.

    Time to get rid of the lot of them..what a waste of space!

  • rate this
    +12

    Comment number 1835.

    Perhaps IPSA should be setting the salaries of all workers throughout the country? Maybe then we wouldn't have so many working families in the UK still living in poverty.

    All the multi-millionaires who are in politics should give up their salaries and live off their own money. The money that would be saved by not paying salaries to MP's could be given to those who actually need it.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 1834.

    "Ayes to the right, nose in the trough!" - a gem from Private Eye as I recall

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1833.

    Message to this Government and future governments.
    This country is quickly sliding down a very dangerous path.
    The British people have had enough of the way this country is being handled.
    It is time to listen to us.
    Today we hear that you have decided to take an 11 per cent pay rise, when most of us are struggling to pay our bills and feed our families.
    enough is enough.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1832.

    I remember someone saying 'we are all in this together', it is five years since I had a pay rise being in the private sector does not mean we all get pay increase like the financial market sector. It is evident that the politicians are only in it for their own gain. Politicians have a very good package they will walk away with a nice little pay off and of course the gold plated pension fund!

  • rate this
    +32

    Comment number 1831.

    Although I'm a public sector worker, and received one pay rise of one percent once in the last four years; and though a third of my colleagues have lost their jobs; and our terms and conditions eroded, may I say that I am thoroughly delighted that MPs are getting this hugely deserved pay rise. It makes me feel warm inside, which is just as well, considering my heating bills. Let us rejoice!!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1830.

    I suppose we should be grateful that the 'repeaters' at the BBC have even bothered informing us of this pay rise. I'll call them that because they're not journalists any longer. . they just repeat what government tells them to.

    No criticism of Boris Johnson and his eugenics talk (again . . this time low IQ . . last time it was Liverpudlians) And no reporting the countless protests in London

 

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