11 Jul 2013

Tory MP: Cameron stance on Ipsa ‘disgraceful’

Tory MP Charles Walker has been a solitary public voice lambasting the coalition leaders’ conduct over the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa).

He told Channel 4 News that David Cameron’s behaviour was “pretty disgraceful,” “appalling” and a worrying indication of the people who are running this country. 

He spoke for many MPs who are steaming with similar feelings privately. Charles Walker said he could imagine a situation where parliamentary candidates start competing in an arms race of self-denial, richer candidates refusing to take chunks of their salary or insisting they’ll give it away.

The three main party leaderships are gambling that Ipsa will wobble faced with a damburst of public hostility and water down the proposed pay rise.  

In all three main parties, you don’t have to wait long to hear MPs attacking their party leaders for not thinking outside their own privileged circumstances.

Some Tory backbenchers say it’s alright for David Cameron, he’s loaded. Lib Dem MPs say it’s OK for Nick Clegg saying he wouldn’t take the rise, his wife earns a fortune.

Labour MPs will tell you Ed Miliband – also saying he wouldn’t take the rise – inherited some money and is better off than many of them. 

Ipsa says it would pay the money into all MPs’ accounts come what may and end the old system, whereby MPs could approach the Commons authorities and say they would not take a controversial pay rise.

It was famously rumoured to be abused by a small number of MPs who would very publicly and quite honestly announce they’d refused to take a certain pay rise only to nip back to the Commons officials when the controversy had passed and ask for it to be quietly reinstated. 

Huge numbers of MPs fizzed with anger against Ipsa when it first tangled with their expenses.

I once found an MP who said he couldn’t manage to get home to Scotland for recess because the organisation hadn’t paid back his claimed expenses and he had no money left in the bank. 

For once, today, many MPs felt the dreaded body had come up with something they could just about support -balancing the cuts in pensions and expenses with a once in a generation catch-up pay rise to be followed by a permanent link to average earnings.

In 2009, the bill granting Ipsa the power to decide MPs’ wages was unopposed in the Commons on the second and third Reading. Ipsa’s first venture into MPs pay was virtually unsupported.  

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