MPs set for controversial pay rise

MPS ARE set for another image crisis as they prepare to accept a recommendation for a 10 per cent pay rise.

House of Commons
House of Commons

David Cameron has said he will not seek to block a recommendation by the parliamentary pay watchdog for MPs to have their wages boosted to £74,000.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards (Ipsa) has said that unless any strong evidence comes forward to convince it not to, it will go ahead with a recommendation for a pay increase at a time when public sector staff are seeing wages frozen.

Ipsa first announced the salary bump in 2013 to address complaints that MPs’ pay has dropped behind the rest of the public sector. But the proposed hike was condemned by Mr Cameron as “simply unacceptable” while the rest of the public sector is restricted to 1%.

Asked about the issue last month, the Prime Minister’s spokesman urged the body “to come to a different view”.

But launching a final consultation on the proposals this morning, Ipsa said there appeared to be no “material” reason to change proposals for an increase from the current level of £67,000.

Unless “new and compelling evidence” emerges by the end of the month, the move will be confirmed - with the rise backdated to May 8.

Downing Street confirmed that, unlike in the last parliament, Mr Cameron and other ministers would benefit from the increase to MPs’ pay. They have only frozen the government element of their remuneration.

The PM’s spokeswoman said he was focused on areas where he had the power to bring down the cost of politics, including proposals for boundary changes to reduce the number of MPs at Westminster.

Blocking the rise for rank-and-file MPs would have required a change in the law, and with a slim majority it was far from clear whether Mr Cameron would have been able to carry a vote in the Commons.

His spokeswoman made clear he was not planning to take this route: “Throughout this process and debate, the Prime Minister has been absolutely clear that he doesn’t agree with the proposed increase.

“But ultimately it is up to Ipsa as an independent body to decide MPs’ pay and it is for them to make their determination.”

Effectively Mr Cameron will receive a 5% pay rise, with his total package rising from £142,500 to £149,440.

Labour backbencher John Mann said: “At a time when the Chancellor is asking every Government department to cut billions more from their budgets, and public sector employees have been offered a 1% pay increase, this decision needs stopping.”

The Bassetlaw MP added: “This decision to award a massive pay increase shows that Westminster still doesn’t get it, your first decision as a newly elected or re-elected MP should not be to award yourself a pay rise.”

Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB union, said: “We look forward to this meaning that MPs will be able to devote 100% of their working time to the interests of their constituents rather than some of them lining their pockets with second, third and fourth paid jobs outside Parliament.

“We trust that none of the MPs accepting this pay rise as public servants will have the audacity to oppose the recommendations of pay review bodies or decent pay rises for public sector workers.”

A Labour Party spokesman said: “It would feel wrong if Ipsa proposed an increase in MPs’ take-home pay at a time when so many people are struggling.”