In Defence of Liberty

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Parliamentary Pay

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The pay of MPs is a constant source of complaints. (Edited: Trodel)

The salaries of elected representatives is a source of constant consternation, from grumbles about councillor allowances in the local paper to national debates on the pay of MPs in the House of Commons.

The Sun proudly continues this tradition, in a fusion of news and comment, by proclaiming their utter outrage at the potential £962 pay rise for MPs [1]:

GREEDY MPs are to get another bumper pay rise of almost a grand this year, The Sun can reveal.

The £962 hike comes just nine months after they trousered a jumbo 10% salary rise last year.

It will take the basic wage of all 650 Commons members to a new high of £74,962 a year, with ministers earning up to another £68,000 on top of that.

The rise is more than a third higher than the average annual wage increase last year for all UK workers, of £624.

Ben Riley-Smith, political correspondent for The Telegraph, continues [2]:

Critics said the increase would go down “very badly” with voters but some MPs defended the rise by saying their salaries are now automatically linked to public sector increases.

Michael White opines in The Guardian [3]:

Oh dear. MPs’ pay is about to rise again, this time by £1,000 a year. It is rarely easy to give politicians more money, and never popular. Since they had a catchup rise of £7,000 taking them to £74,000 a year only last April, it seems unusually stupid of the authorities to force a rise on them now when austerity is biting hard in so many directions.

Arise, IPSA

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) was established by the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009, in response to the expenses scandal in the same year. In 2010, IPSA was given the responsibility for setting MPs’ pay and pensions.

(Video: liarpoliticians)

The IPSA report found that the spectre of parliamentary pay has been persistently avoided [4]:

In respect of MPs’ pay, we found that:
⦁ the ratio of MPs’ pay to national average earnings had fallen from an historic average of 3.16, to 2.68;
⦁ a Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB) recommendation to increase pay in 2005 had not been implemented;
⦁ a recommendation in 2008 by Sir John Baker, fomer Chair of the SSRB, to increase MPs’ pay had similarly not been implemented;
⦁ in comparison with a range of broadly equivalent public sector professionals, MPs’ pay had fallen to 78 per cent of the average, against a SSRB recommendation of 85 per cent.

The IPSA recommendations were to increase base pay for MPs to £74,000, then link that pay to the average pay increases in the public sector; move to a career-average pension, rather than a final-salary scheme; end “generous” resettlement payments; and cuts to permitted expenses.

Greed and charity

The single increase to £74,000 was to account for the historic subsidence against average pay, bringing the pay level for parliamentarians in line with comparable professions, such as headteachers. Whether considering the previous five, ten or fifteen years, MPs’ pay has risen by smaller rates than either public sector employees or all workers.

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In the five years to March 2015, MPs’ pay rose by only 2%. (Source: IPSA)

These recommendations were accepted. According to Iain Watson, a political correspondent for the BBC, IPSA has not “settled” on a final figure. It will determine the MPs’ pay rate increase, by the Office for National Statistics reporting what the average pay rise in the public sector has been over the past year.

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(Source: BBC)

An increase of £962 for MPs would correspond to a pay rate increase of 1.3%. This is the average pay increase for public sector workers. This furore comes from IPSA merely following its own guidelines, automatically increasing the pay of MPs in the exact manner in which it had previously and publicly described. It has nothing to do with the “greed” or charity of our parliamentarians.

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Over the past few decades, the pay of MPs has risen more slowly than real average earnings. (Source: Full Fact)

It is common to deride our elected representatives as greedy, self-serving, corrupt or malicious. The pay of parliamentarians is a vexed and toxic concern, and is no longer a matter for MPs to determine from year to year.

I hope these articles do not become an annual ritual.

References

[1] The Sun, 2016. Outrage as MPs to get another bumper pay rise of almost a THOUSAND pounds. Available from: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/politics/6920424/Outrage-as-MPs-to-get-another-bumper-pay-rise.html [Accessed: 10th February 2016]

[2] Riley-Smith, B., 2016. MPs’ pay to rise by another £1,000 – just months after 10 per cent salary hike signed-off. The Telegraph. Available from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/12149835/MPs-pay-to-rise-by-another-1000-just-months-after-10-per-cent-salary-hike-signed-off.html [Accessed: 10th February 2016]

[3] White, M., 2016. Even if Ipsa thinks MPs deserve a fresh pay rise, it is not the time to give it. The Guardian. Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/blog/2016/feb/10/ipsa-mps-deserve-pay-rise-ian-kennedy-austerity [Accessed: 10th February 2016]

[4] IPSA, 2015. MPs’ Pay in the 2015 Parliament Final Report July 2015. Available from: http://parliamentarystandards.org.uk/transparency/Our%20consultations/Pay%20and%20Pensions/MPs’%20Pay%20Consultation%202015/MPs’%20Pay%20in%20the%202015%20Parliament%20-%20Final%20Report.pdf [Accessed: 10th February 2016]

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This entry was posted on February 17, 2016 by in National Politics and tagged , .
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