1 Jul 2013

Show restraint’ over MPs’ pay, urges David Cameron

David Cameron is urging “restraint” as reports emerge that MPs will be in line for a bumper pay rise – whilst deputy prime minister Nick Clegg says he will turn down a major pay rise.

David Cameron and Nick Clegg (Getty)

But Mr Cameron is urging the body to “show restraint” and claimed it would be “unthinkable” to make Westminster more expensive to the taxpayer.

Ipsa, which is charged with regulating MPs’ pay, is set to announce the rise on 11 July, the Sun on Sunday reported.

‘Context’

Meanwhile the Mail on Sunday quoted a source close to Ed Miliband as saying any rise “has to be seen in the context of the decision to limit public-sector workers’ pay increases to 1 per cent and the fact that some private-sector workers have had their pay cut”.

The newspaper said sources indicated the regulator would suggest raising MPs’ pay to £75,000 a year, in a series of upratings starting in 2015, coupled with much higher pension contributions.

This woulkd mean an increase of £7,500 on current MPs salaries, a boost of 11 per cent on their current salaries.

My own view is that the public would find it impossible to understand. Nick Clegg

Mr Cameron said he did not know what the independent body would recommend. But he added: “Whatever Ipsa recommends we can’t see the cost of politics or Westminster going up. We should see the cost of Westminster go down.”

Meanwhile, Mr Clegg said the public “would not understand” if Ipsa awarded MPs bumper pay rises. He said he would not be accepting any pay increase which was well in excess of other public scetor workers.

Speaking at a Whitehall news conferences, Mr Clegg said: “My own view is that the public would find it impossible to understand – particularly as (there are ) millions of people in the public sector whose pay is only increasing by 1 per cent – that their parliamentary representatives at a time like this would be receiving pay increases far in excess of that 1 per cent increase.

“Speaking for myself I would certainly seek to do whatever I can to make sure that either this decision is not taken in the first place – but that’s out of my hands – but, secondly, if it were to be taken, not to take that pay increase.”

‘Public sector pay’

Employment Relations Minister Jo Swinson said she believed the present salary level was “absolutely adequate”. She said it was right that the “bad old days” of MPs setting their own pay had been ended but cautioned Ipsa that it had to take account of public sector pay curbs.

“Personally I think the MPs’ salary is absolutely adequate. I have no problems whatsoever with my salary,” she told BBC News. “But I also think it’s important that MPs should not be setting their own salary.

“I hope that the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority have looked in detail at all of the relevant issues to put this into context such as the pay restraint which our constituents, particularly those working in the public sector but people working in the private sector too who have not been seeing pay rises, I hope that’s context that they have taken into account.”

A Downing Street spokesman said that in its formal submission to the Ipsa consultation, the government said it expected the regulator to “take the broader fiscal climate into account … noting in particular the approach that has been taken by the government to public sector pay and pensions”.

Asked if that meant the Prime Minister expected MPs’ pay to be limited to the same 1 per cent cap on public sector pay, he told reporters: “No … his view is that it’s important that the total cost of politics be coming down.”