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 2249.

    IPSA must use the same logic as the executive pay committees of the banks and big business. But its not parliaments fault. IPSA is totally "independent".

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 2248.

    2238 Paul. I am immensely grateful to my almost local MP who is trying to right a significant wrong by DWP - done to a young man with no knowledge of how to set things going. The MP is excellent - as usual. Personally I believe they need to get their pay up to something sensible and then to have an arrangement to keep it there. It is never the right time to settle this problem and IPSA says now.

  • rate this
    +30

    Comment number 2247.

    We shouldn't be discussing how we feel about it, we should be discussing how to stop it. How on earth can they preach to us about "us all being in this together" and that cuts are necessary if we're to get out of the economic mess we're in and then go ahead and accept this rise?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 2246.

    Why is the Nelson Mandela story of more significance than this story to British people?

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 2245.

    I wouldn't mind the increase if they reduced the number of MPs to 300. Why does a piddling little country like this need 600+?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 2244.

    I was given a 0.62% pay rise by my company who justified saying it was a 'difficult market'. The truth is, is that my Manager said they could employ East Europeans for less and that my job wasn't for life. Happy Christmas.....I'm sure I'll have lost my job in 12 months time.

    It stinks and I will vote anyone but Tory in 2015.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 2243.

    This pay rise is disgusting. While everyone else has to put up no wage increase or one less than inflation, these clowns give themselves an above inflation pay rise. When other groups of workers go on strike for better pay it is difficult now to criticise them. It is a "look after yourself" mentality that our MPs are fuelling with their greed and arrogance.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 2242.

    2203. An Over Populated Planet
    3 MINUTES AGO
    Chorus:

    So here it is merry Christmas
    Everybody's having fun
    Look to the future now
    It's only just begun .....you lot wont be getting 11%...coz we are the privileged ones.
    So here it is Merry Xmas
    Don't put the heating on just go for a run....
    So look to the future now you will be working till your a hundred and one.
    Its Christmas...good ole Noddy

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 2241.

    People are angry.
    Talk of signing petitions.striking or demonstrating.
    Whats the point?
    Write three letters.
    One to you bank. telling them you are changing account.
    One to your energy provider,telling them you are changing account
    One to you MP asking who is in charge now?
    Don't forget to get your family, friends and friends of friends to do it as well.
    Await terms to be negotiated.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 2240.

    Is it possible for the people of the nation to force a 'no confidence' vote in the govt should this pay rise go ahead?
    I for one do not want to see this coalition continue to rule for any longer and think that now every political party should be represented in a ruling conglomerate with MP pay decided by us, the people who they represent.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 2239.

    You don't enter the job for the money because it's a 'vocation.'

    I believe that's what they tell our nurses?

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 2238.

    I think the problem here is that mps are held in such low esteem that most of us feel they should be paid considerably less than (say) a bin man; at least bin men do actually empty your bins. When was the last time you thought to yourself, "I'm thankful for that mp's actions. My liberties etc were at risk, but this mp forwarded my interests"? I'm in my forties and I can't recal a single time

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 2237.

    How is it that when any other public sector worker wants a pay rise there told there is no money left, but when it comes to MPs pay, pensions, expenses and Foeign Aid there are always millions in fact billions that can be found?

  • rate this
    +34

    Comment number 2236.

    The idea that offering a higher wage will get 'better' candidates seems nonsense to me. It may well bring a certain kind of candidate - the kind who is motivated by money - but I think we already have a few of those in both Houses... It is an insult to those who do difficult jobs for noble reasons. We want public servants, not greedy people.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 2235.

    I think its a disgrace, I have emailed my MP and asked them if they will be accepting this pay rise.....

    I know who I will be voting for if they do......

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 2234.

    @2220

    Yet another poster who does not understand what a representative democracy is. So you really think an MP is supposed to hold a referendum in his constituency on every and any issue and then vote in the same manner?

    If that was the case - capital punishment is back, out of Europe would be likely and gravy train benefits for nigh upon everyone. Wonderful !!!!!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 2233.

    I've given up trying to reason with these people. Clearly, they do not represent the people who elected to do so. Every 4th year, they tell us beguiling lies and every 4th year we believe them and for the following 4 years we suffer. They consistently break the contract they offered in their manifestos and now engineer more pay for failing to deliver on their promises.

    Vote them out. All of them.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 2232.

    MPs should be taking a cut not a rise. The current mob are trying to privatise and cut the public sector out of existence meaning, as they intend, all they will do in future is rubber stamp finance bills and give rough guidelines - which, as they do at the moment, business will ignore, The HoC is destined to become a talking shop for which they get paid in excess of £70,000. Nice!

  • rate this
    +11

    Comment number 2231.

    We need MP's that are there with a genuine desire to help others. Not these career politicians who are only out for their own personal greed.
    Since Thatcher, greed has been classed as a way of life. If your not greedy there is something wrong with you, with us.
    This needs to change, the whole culture of vested interests and conflicts of interests with our MPs should be reviewed and investigated.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 2230.

    Take 15% i insist, as a Christian this is the best Christmas i have ever had. Rejoice rejoice for the hour is at hand :)

    Our father
    Warming mountains up in heaven
    Let house of Lords take the blame
    Thine mountain of fire come

    Don't spare the horses Lord, Bless you sweet master, praise David Cameron and his Elites, without them it would not be about to happen.

 

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