BBC Radio Wales had a phone in earlier today about MPs pay with particular reference to the 1.5% rise (c£1,000) that has been recommended by the Senior Salaries Review Body. There were the expected comments from the public about it being too much and comparing the almost £66,000 that MPs get with the wages of other groups like nurses and other workers.
Friday, 5 March 2010
Iain Dale had put himself up to try and defend the MPs. His position was basically that this had been determined by an external body and that the MPs are entitled to the rise on that basis. He also argued that MPs often work 80 or 90 hour weeks and that just because they might not be in parliament does not mean that they are not working. In his view, looked at like this, their salaries start to look much more justifiable.
Iain also suggested that some people have to take a pay cut in order to go into parliament. He even revealed that he would have had to had he been selected (and then elected) this time round.
As he was getting such a hard time from the callers, I couldn't resist phoning in myself. I actually agreed with some of what he was saying. My position is that I do think that the salary MPs are currently paid is about right. They do work very, very long hours and deserve a good salary for it (well most of them). I also think that a 1.5% pay rise is fair enough except that I think that as a one-off gesture given the state of the economy they should have turned it down this year. However my concern is that would set another precedent which would lead to MPs feeling obliged to turn down future pay rises too and within a few years the value of the salary would be quite seriously diminished. I did also point out that some MPs get a salary increase compared to before when they get into parliament!
However I do feel a bit like I am fighting a losing battle holding the view that their pay is fair. It seems lots of people (certainly those motivated to phone into radio shows!) are against it and to a large extent the MPs only have themselves to blame after all their expenses antics.
If you want to listen to the phone-in it is available below for the next 7 days. The phone-in starts just after the hour mark and my contribution starts around 1:24:00.