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
    0

    Comment number 1869.

    Well the cost of living 'has' gone up so fair play ; )

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 1868.

    I have no objection to MPs being awarded an 11% salary increase, providing that the rest of the country is awarded 15%.

    In my job, employers offered us 1% this time around.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 1867.

    all these politicians should be put on 6 months roll over contract if they do the job there elected for fine if not sack them and move on to the next one till they do , 4 years is too long for them to feather there own nests

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1866.

    Cameron & populist co stop this pharisaen mumbling. .For heavens sake double or better triple the salaries, give them usual car allowance and let them pay normal pension like in normal business life. If you want to have smart guys who have not inherited a fortune, you have to pay them decent salaries like in normal life. Otherwise only the posh Eton guys will sit in the house.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1865.

    If they disagree with the pay-rise they should all give their extra 11% (or more!) to a charity helping the elderly to survive the winter.
    Besides. the personal wealth of the cabinet is apparently £70 million, it's not as if they'll even notice the extra money going into their bloated accounts.

  • Comment number 1864.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 1863.

    It's amazing how many people really don't understand this increase - although the lack of understanding is fuelled by the BBC and other media.
    The increase covers at least a 5 year period AND is tied-in with reductions in allowances and pensions. The actual true annual figure is less than 2% a year - possibly less than 1% a year in fact!

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 1862.

    If any MP's (or their supporters on here) think they are underpaid perhaps they would like to do the job for minimum wage? You'd begin to understand just how well paid you are.

    Millions of working people are living in relative poverty, and millions have not seen a pay rise in decades - what gives MP's the right to think they are owed one when it is their actions that have caused this issue!

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 1861.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 1860.

    The sooner Scotland vote YES! the better, even if no other reason than to get out of the CESSPIT called the House of Commons. Did you know that out of the 650 MPs ,there is only ONE Scottish Conservative MP left there,sitting on his bum (David Mundel)
    So how can dopey Dave run a country containing 5.3M people with only ONE MP???
    LOL

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 1859.

    So convenient- no way to overturn the decision of the committee?? Is this committee determined to make politicians even more despised and distrusted? Is there some secret agenda at work here?
    11% rise while everyone else is below inflation or nothing!!

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 1858.

    The general population are suffering from cuts to benefits, increased household bills, suppressed wages and having to work longer for a pension.
    To add insult to injury we also have FOOD Banks.
    Disgraceful by any standard and yet it is thought that MP's deserve an 11% increase to their over inflated wage. They also claim dubious expenses as well.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 1857.

    The most disgusting and incongruous (but completely expected of course) piece of news I have heard for many a long year.

    We should be out on the streets demonstrating over this one, how much more can politicians take the rise out of the taxpayer?

    WE are THEIR bosses, although it seems this has become juxtaposed.

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 1856.

    It says a lot about the state of a viable democracy when the public outrage can only be expressed on a BBC HYS.

    TO THE BARRICADES!

    TAX THE RICH!

    TAX THE RICH!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1855.

    With austerity squeezing most people, nobody paid by the public purse should be given such exceptional treatment.

    How anyone with any understanding of the business world, of the role of government and of how real people live could make such a decision is beyond me.

    IPSA board is unelected and consists of people with little connection with the real world. Basically, this isn't democracy.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1854.

    #1141 BeachyHed: You know nothing of the public sector, only the lies peddled by the Tories and their friends in the right-wing press in an attempt to justify the purely ideological butchery of public services. Most public sector workers are hard-working and dedicated and are paid very little for what the job entails. I take it you will only accept private healthcare if you fall ill?

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 1853.

    1838.GuildHeaph

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

    /

    "Mr Phillips, 43, a Tory MP has received £922,380.20 in barrister's fees since July 2011, in addition to his annual MP’s salary of £65,738"

    Absolutely shocking that the same Tory MP's who plead poverty earn so much in their "2nd jobs".

    Leeches.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1852.

    1824.
    Daniel
    1 Minute ago

    @1792.F1Hertz

    Do they look like they are working to you?.
    We pay these people to bicker and snipe at each other, they are vile. Work? These people do not know what work is!

    Spot on, take George Gideon Osbourne for example, a spell as a towel folder at Selfridge's and 1 months experience as a data entry clerk and this guy is the Chancellor, you couldn't make it up !!!

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 1851.

    1828 ExpatKS .. that's one good idea. Alternative is to ensure a 0% turnout at the next election.

    MPs only represent themselves, had you noticed?

  • rate this
    +87

    Comment number 1850.

    I wouldn't care what we paid them if they were selected for dedication and expertise , rather than an ability to give rabble-rousing speeches . Can we stop looking for 'leadership' or 'charisma' please and look for common sense , diligence, and the ability to listen and use brain..

 

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