12 Dec 2013

MPs ‘cannot refuse’ Ipsa’s 11 per cent pay rise

MPs who choose to decline the 11 per cent pay rise proposed by Ipsa will be given the money whether they want it or not, so what will they do with it?

Some MPs have claimed they would reject the Ipsa pay rise (Image: Reuters)

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) plans to increase salaries by £7,600 to £74,000 in 2015.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said that he, David Cameron and Ed Miliband agreed that the rise is “incomprehensible and wholly inappropriate”.

Yet a spokesman for Ipsa told Channel 4 News that MPs are powerless to refuse the money.

He confirmed: “We will be paying 650 MPs one level of pay.”

In which case, what would the MPs do with the unwanted money?

Anonymous support

The three leaders have sidestepped the question, with a Labour party source telling Channel 4 News: “We are planning to stop the pay rise so the question doesn’t arise”.

A Downing Street spokeswoman meanwhile said the situation was “hypothetical”, pointing to Mr Cameron’s advice to Ipsa to “think again”.

While Mr Clegg’s spokesperson continued to insist that the Deputy PM “would not accept it”.

Just a handful of MPs have said they would hand the money over to charities.

Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald has said he would use the extra money to help needy constituents, while Anne McIntosh, MP for Thirsk and Malton, told the Northern Echo that she would have “no hesitation” in donating the extra money to charity.

Jake Berry, Rossendale and Darwen MP, Pendle’s MP Andrew Stephenson and Burnley’s Gordon Birtwistle have all pledged to donate their pay rise to local charities.

Natascha Engel, MP for North East Derbyshire, has told the Daily Telegraph she will give the extra money to food banks in the area.

Yet most MPs have said refused to say anything.

Indeed, Ipsa’s final report published on Thursday points to an anonymous survey taken last year in which 69 per cent of MPs considered themselves underpaid.

The YouGov survey of 100 MPs, conducted in October 2012, found that MPs considered the right level of pay, on average, to be £86,000.

Though the figure varied between parties, with Labour MPs on average considering £77,000 to be appropriate, Lib Dems opting for £78,000 and the Conservatives £97,000.

‘Hate mail’

While Mr Clegg and Mr Miliband have both publicly said they would decline a pay rise, Mr Cameron has refused to disclose his position.

A number of MPs however, including Tory Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, have said they would not take the pay rise. Mr Hammond indicated that all 22 members of the Cabinet would reject it too.

Cabinet members receive more than double the salary of MPs, with an annual salary of £134,565.

The extra £68,169 they receive as Cabinet members was set in 2010 for the duration of the parliament by the Cabinet Office. In 2010 the coalition cabinet announced that they would be paid 5 per cent less than their Labour counterparts.

Only one MP, the Tory backbencher Charles Walker, has said he would accept the rise.

The MP for Broxbourne told Sky News: “This is going to make me extremely unpopular and my inbox is going to fill up with hate mail.

“I have been a professional for 25 years and I’ve never turned a pay rise down in my life and I don’t intend to start any time soon.”