In the Defence of the MP’s Pay Rise

There is never a good time to suggest the idea of a pay rise for MPs.  As I’m sure you can imagine, the 11 per-cent rise proposed by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) has created a storm over Westminster. IPSA ignored the heavy political pressure from July and have decided to make a recommendation to increase the pay of MPs. This rise would add £7,600 to their salary from 2015. So, in 2015 your MP will receive a salary of £74,000.

The media has reacted very strongly against the increase. Newspapers have printed that millions of struggling workers are only getting a 1 per-cent increase and that if politicians accepted the pay rise it would be ‘political suicide’.  Politicians too are vocally against the proposals. Danny Alexander has stated that it would be ‘wholly inappropriate’ to have their salary increased when many workers in the public sector are having their pay frozen.  David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband have also voiced their opposition stating that this is not the time to be discussing the issue.

Is there are argument for there to be a pay rise? I think there is. IPSA was set up following the expenses scandal of 2009. It prime focus was to take the issue of pay out of the Commons.  As Jack Straw has stated, MPs should not complain after giving the responsibility of their salary to an outside body. The deputy speaker, Lindsay Hoyle, also believes that MPs should not vote on their own pay. The IPSA chairman, Sir Ian Kennedy, has said that the increase is ‘fair’ and brings MPs pay to the ‘right’ level.

Under the proposals, the rules of expenses will be refined and MPs will no longer be able to claim for an evening meal. There will also be tighter rules on taxis and hotels. According to IPSA, the changes to expenses will save £178,000 in 2015. The proposals would also create a more transparent House of Commons as annual reports by MPs would also be introduced so their constituents know what they are doing.

The problem for MPs is they are powerless over the decision. They can do nothing to stop IPSA implanting their proposals. They cannot appeal against the decision and they cannot vote to abolish the body. Therefore it seems inevitable that in 2015, they will see their salary increase. However, the proposals are sensible. The whole idea of this proposal is to try to prevent another expenses scandal and therefore allow MPs to gain back the trust of the public. With the election looming, I don’t think any MP really wants to admit that they are in favour of the proposal.

Ben Callaghan

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