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MP pay increase ruling is slammed

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 09, 2013

By Toby Meyjes, WMN Senior Reporter, Twitter: @TobyMeyjesWMN


Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw plans to donate his pay rise to charity

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Westcountry MPs have criticised an independent panel for refusing to bow to political pressure for it to scrap plans to increase politicians pay by £7,600 a year.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) is expected to unveil its final proposals next week, including boosting MPs salaries to £74,000 from 2015 – a rise of 11%.

But MPs from all three main parties in the region have condemned the move by the panel which was set up to take decisions about remuneration out of the hands of politicians in the wake of the expenses scandal.

After the news emerged yesterday, Ben Bradshaw, Labour MP for Exeter, confirmed he would be donating his increased wages to charity.

Gary Streeter, the Conservative MP for South Devon, said Ipsa was destroying MPs' credibility by "completely trashing" them in the public eye. While, Nick Harvey, the Liberal Democrat MP for North Devon, said the decision showed up flaws in the system.

Ipsa is expected to try to temper criticism by announcing a tougher-than-expected squeeze on MPs' pensions in a bid to cancel out the £4.6 million cost to the public purse.

A £2.5 million saving by downgrading the final salary scheme to career average – matching the rest of the public sector – had already been proposed alongside a crackdown on various perks. Mr Bradshaw said it is up to Ipsa to justify any decisions it makes but added: "I have always made clear that if they do impose an above inflation rise after the election, and I am still an MP, I would give any extra to charity."

Research by the watchdog – which first set out the proposals in July – found that two-thirds of MPs believe they are underpaid and its chairman Sir Ian Kennedy has insisted politicians' pay must "catch up" after years of being suppressed.

However, Mr Streeter criticised the performance of the body, saying it had been "shocking" since it was set up in 2009.

He said: "If they (Ipsa) had a mission to set out to destroy the credibility and public confidence in MPs then they are doing incredibly well.

"This is the third time now we have discussed something which is not even relevant until the next election.

"My blood is boiling. It remains my view historically that MPs are underpaid, most people in communities would recognise that we are historically underpaid, but we shouldn't be discussing it now at a time of austerity.

"We should not be voting on our own pay but we should have people deciding who have a modicum of common sense."

All three main party leaders have condemned the increase at a time of national austerity, with both Labour's Ed Miliband and Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg pledged to shun the extra money.

But although Mr Harvey agreed with Mr Streeter about the sense of the timing, he said it was too early for MPs to be making decisions about what they would do with their increased pay.

He said: "I'm afraid this shows up the flaws in the system. They are essentially making a decision, in 2013, what MPs are going to be paid in 2020.

"I think some of the MPs who are saying they will give it to charity or won't take it need to reflect that we won't get the issue reviewed until 2020, that's a big big decision to be making now."

Ipsa's original report conceded there is no "compelling evidence" that MPs' current salary level is deterring candidates, making people leave Parliament, affecting the diversity of the House, or lowering the standard of ministers.

But Sir Ian argued it was "wrong in itself" to keep MP pay low, arguing that the expenses scandal had been the result of too much restraint.

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  • BrixhamDes  |  December 10 2013, 12:17AM

    If I pay £30.00 on a product that, when I get it home, it is not working, I take it back to the shop I bought it from and demand a refund. This Government spends well over £300 Million on the Universal system, which is four years late and will become effective during the NEXT Governments time, if at all. Why aren't we asking for our £Millions back, if I paid it in a Shop I would be entitled to it under Law.

    Rate   2
  • BrixhamDes  |  December 09 2013, 10:15PM

    History has a tendency to repeat itself "Nero fiddled while Rome burned" comes to mind.

    Rate   1
  • Daledale  |  December 09 2013, 8:57PM

    Empty words from the expense fiddlers of Westminster. I bet they end up accepting the pay rise. As ever, watch what they do, not what they say.

    Rate   1
  • Fatalist  |  December 09 2013, 3:59PM

    If I were a Tory or Lib Dem MP right now - I'd take it. Something to use to feather their nests before they lose their parliamentary seats in 2015.

    Rate   2