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It should be up to us to decide if MPs get a pay rise

Pay heed to those MPs who have stuck their heads above the paywall and you might assume that they, at least, are all in this together.

David Cameron photo
David Cameron

David Cameron doesn’t want Members of Parliament to be offered a salary increase, taking a backbencher’s annual pay up £10,000 to £75,000.

Nick Clegg says he wouldn’t accept a rise if offered one.

Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale tweeted: “I think we are paid more than enough as it is. MPs do not need any more!”

Barrow MP John Woodcock reckons it would be wrong to accept anything when so many in the country are struggling painfully to make ends meet. MPs should remember, he warns, the political class is blamed by many for a lot of the ills we now have to carry to the foodbank.

Ed Miliband has urged that pay should be set in the light of public sector settlements – which isn’t quite a flat “no thanks” but we know not to expect the definitive answer from our Ed.

So, adding up on the fingers of one hand, five out of a bear pit of 650 ain’t bad, eh?

Honourable men and women all of them, of course. But precisely how honourable they all are will become quite a lot clearer when the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority unveils its proposals for a significant increase in the pay of ordinary backbench MPs from just over £66,000 a year to a figure closer to £75,000 starting after the next election.

The Prime Minister, speaking in Islamabad, sounded like one who might – at a pinch – be protesting just a tad too much.

He said any such plan “would be unthinkable unless the cost of politics was frozen and cut” – like with a cut in the number of MPs, a less generous pension, or both.

But he has been told he can do nothing to stop IPSA setting new levels of income. The clue is in the title, he has been reminded. Independent, Mr C – so back off.

Is it though? IPSA was set up in the aftermath of the MPs’ expenses scandal which so disgusted voters and left a nasty taste of disillusionment and suspicion in the mouths of voters.

Independent of all MPs’ influence was the idea. Independent of Parliament and the baying and bellowing characters who make such a shabby show of themselves in the Commons, certainly.

But independent of you, me, all of us who, if an MP told us the time would feel inclined to check our watches? That was never my understanding.

Independence of those who have been shown to do wrong and carrying a purpose to prevent wrongdoing in future, can only mean representation of the wider public’s interests, yes?

That doesn’t mean hearing the bleatings of MPs who had their expenses set in order (ie reduced) and so demanded higher annual pay. Independence of them and representation of us, means listening to the wishes of the majority, the paymasters, the suffering under continuing pay freezes – us – doesn’t it?

Mr Cameron may well accept he can do nothing to bat off new pay scales set by an independent body. It will suit his purpose to do so.

And the tiny number of MPs who say they wouldn’t take a rise, should one be imposed – what of them? Will not they, in the end, argue absence of any formal procedure for turning it down or paying it back?

If IPSA really does want to be seen as independent, it has only one course of action. It must listen to MPs’ employers – us – and tell the bear pit boys and girls what Liam Byrne articulated so well.

“I am afraid there is no money. Kind regards – and good luck!”

Have your say

I think mps are entitled to pay rises just like the rest of us but like the rest of they must face reality if we get a 2% pay rise we usually have to make a 1% savings ie redundancy so if mps get the so called 12% pay rise like the rest of us they should make 6% savings being 6% redundant thats fair

Posted by dem on 14 July 2013 at 11:52

MP's pay should be means tested, the same is law for me and everyone working, I cannot claim for anything, even though my husband is disabled, because we have worked all our lives, and saved for our retirement, and are means tested for everything we apply for, then we are penalised by these very people who can buck the system at very opportunity, snouts in troughs, what does a 11% pay rise mean to the likes of Cameron and Osbourne, with their millions - nothing!
If they are really there for the people, then show it!

Posted by Sailfish on 13 July 2013 at 16:44

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