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Tory MPs Mark Field and Andrew Bridgen to accept pay rise

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Two Conservative MPs have told the BBC that they will accept the pay rise recommended by their independent pay body.

The pair also criticised other MPs for seeking to undermine its decision.

Andrew Bridgen said there is now a danger of "a race to the bottom where's it's just a hair shirt competition," unless pay is improved.

David Cameron has said the proposed 10% increase was not acceptable and has urged the pay body to ditch it.

Downing Street has said it backs the view of the International Development Secretary Justine Greening that the independent body which sets MPs' pay "does not seem to be working".

But Mr Bridgen, the Conservative MP for North West Leicestershire, said that backbenchers like him were disappointed that "it tends to be people in the cabinet or shadow cabinet who are saying that they wouldn't take it, and give it to charity" when "they're on twice as much as a backbencher".

'Unfair and unjust'

Mr Bridgen told BBC Radio 4's The World at One that he has to subsidise his hotel bill by up to £50 a night when he stays in London, because there are not enough rooms available at the price of his daily Parliamentary allowance.

image copyrightConservative Party
image captionAndrew Bridgen says MPs should accept their pay rise

The MP said it was the "politics of expediency" for MPs to say they would give the extra £7,000 to charity, but he added: "It doesn't solve the problem, it only makes it worse for all politicians now and for future politicians."

A petition on the Change.org website calling for Mr Cameron to reject the Ipsa proposal as "unfair and unjust while Britain is going through austerity" has gained more than 365,000 signatures.

Fellow Conservative Mark Field, MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, agreed that MPs should accept the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority's recommendation, arguing that it would be "playing with fire" to reject the judgment of an independent body on the matter.

But Mr Field told The World at One: "It's a pretty sad day as a matter of public policy, and not very sensible, if parliamentarians take the view that they will accept an independent review when it has a downward element of expenses or salary but not if it raises it."

He added: "To be honest, I am lucky I am an MP in central London where many of my constituents wonder how it is that any member of parliament can live on £70,000 a year, so I can make that case slightly more easily.

"But I do think it is important that we as MPs do make a stand."

'Lowly paid job'

The former lawyer and businessman said: "I make considerably less money than I made before I was an MP - I was earning three or four times the salary.

image copyrightConservative Party
image captionMark Field says MPs should 'make a stand'

"I always took the view that going into public life was vocational - it's a bit like being a vicar or taking a relatively lowly paid job."

He also accused some of the Labour leadership candidates of "playing to the gallery on this issue".

On BBC1's Question Time, Justine Greening hit out at Ipsa and indicated that she thought action may need to be taken to block the rise.

She said: "I think that we do need to sort out what's happening with Ipsa because how anyone can think that this kind of a proposal is acceptable is utterly beyond me."

Ipsa has stressed that due to cuts in pensions and expenses - such as a ban on claiming for evening meals - the overall package of changes to MPs' remuneration will not cost taxpayers any more.

But MPs elected before 2015 - including Mr Cameron - will see a major boost to their pensions as they are based on final salary.

Related Topics

  • Mark Field
  • Andrew Bridgen

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