Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Thursday, 16 July 2015

MPs should keep their pay rise

I've written about this before when it was first mooted but today IPSA have confirmed that MPs will get their 10% pay rise. Their pay will now rise to around £74,000 per year and will henceforth be linked to pay rises in the public sector.

As far as I am concerned MPs should not feel pressured to hand money back or give it to charity. An independent body has determined that is what the role should be paid. After the expenses scandal in 2009 there was a huge outcry and MPs' ability to set their own expenses regime and salaries was (rightly) taken out of their hands. But now that the independent body has looked long and hard at this and made its decision it is simply not fair to treat this situation as if "MPs have awarded themselves a massive pay rise" (as plenty of people today seem to think). That is simply not true and as electors we cannot have it both ways. There was strong agreement in 2009 across the country that an independent body should decide and it's hypocritical of us to ignore that fact now.

It's worth bearing in mind that MPs are still paid less than plenty of headteachers, almost all GPs (pro-rata) and many other professions. And bearing in mind they are representing tens of thousands of constituents, holding the government to account and voting on laws that affect us all I want them to be well remunerated for that.

There is a risk that if we keep on like this and MPs feel pressured to reject the rise and/or give it away to charity, and perhaps abolish IPSA so they can properly turn down future rises that in time the salary will slip further and further behind other vocations until it becomes very difficult for anyone except the independently wealthy to seek to become MPs. I definitely never want to see that happen.

And to cap it all the new regime is actually not costing the public purse a single extra penny. The pay rise comes about from modifications to the expenses regime and MPs' pensions. If they want to juggle this about to include 10% more up-front salary then it's not really making any difference to any of the rest of us.

So frankly all those crying out how disgraceful this situation is should back off. I don't think most of us would want the sort of parliament that would be eventual end-game of MPs caving in to this sort of pressure.

2 comments:

Evil Chuffy said...

"in time the salary will slip further and further behind other vocations until it becomes very difficult for anyone except the independently wealthy to seek to become MPs."
A rational piece, but you lost me with this bit. Average UK salary is £26k and people live well enough on less. Reducing MPs wages may dissuade well paid professionals, but do MPs *have* to come from that tier of society? The argument you put forward in this quote holds true if we were talking about not paying MPs at all, but not otherwise.

Anonymous said...

I think if you include their pensions, even post the reform, the effective salary is a lot higher.