MPs who take 11% pay rise can expect media witch-hunt

Outrage at £7,600 pay rise for backbenchers – but it's a one-off designed to end expenses culture

Column LAST UPDATED AT 10:24 ON Mon 9 Dec 2013

THE three party leaders, Cameron, Clegg and Miliband, are on a loser if they think they can stop MPs taking an inflation-busting 11 per cent pay rise, the Mole’s snouts in the House of Commons trough have revealed. 

There is outrage mixed with indignation across Fleet Street today at the prospect of MPs taking the increase – from £66,396 to £74,000 – when it kicks in after the 2015 general election, while most public sector workers are being held to rises of no more than one or two per cent, and millions face falling living standards.

And the tabloids have made it clear there'll be a witch-hunt to root out MPs who accept the rise. The Daily Mirror describes the proposed £7,600-a-year rise as a “scandal” and warns “woe betide” any MPs who take it.

The Sun tells MPs it would be “political suicide” to take the extra cash. "Every backbench MP should examine their conscience and be ready to answer this at election time: Did you trouser your 11 per cent or not?"

Only The Times has spoken up for the MPs, arguing that it is a one-off catch-up pay rise. “If we want the best quality representation then we cannot begrudge paying them properly.”

The Times is right in that the new pay figure, due to be announced this week, has been reached by IPSA (the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority), brought in by Gordon Brown in 2009 to defuse the MPs’ expenses scandal and isolate Labour from it. 

And IPSA's main task was to change the culture that had led so many MPs to treat expenses as an extra benefit to top up their relatively low salaries. 

The cost to the taxpayer of the pay rise – £4.6 million a year – will be partially offset by a squeeze on MPs’ pensions and resettlement grants. The Times also reports that MPs will also lose their dinner allowance and claims for a second TV.

IPSA's own website says: “Our approach and rules are a clean break from the old system of self-regulation by MPs and the House of Commons. The new rules are fair to MPs and the public purse, workable and, crucially, transparent – anyone can go online and see what their MP has claimed for and what they are paid.”

After this one-off catch-up increase, MPs' pay will be raised in line with average earnings. 

Cameron, Clegg and Miliband have all made it clear that they do not believe the MPs should take the rises, knowing that it will further alienate voters from all the main political parties in the run-up to the 2015 general election.

Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said yesterday on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show that the rise was “wholly inappropriate”.

But the Mole’s sources say he and his Cabinet colleagues are wasting their breath. “We can see why it’s unpopular but it’s definitely going to go through,” a senior Labour MP told me. “There will be some who will give the money to charity. That’s up to them.”

My source went on: “I know that many of our constituents don’t earn what we do. None of us our happy about this, but this is the rate for the job. We are going to have to put on our tin hats, and take the flak.”

The MPs do not have to vote on the rise, which IPSA will introduce automatically. Defence Secretary Philip Hammond and shadow chancellor Ed Balls have both said they won’t take the increase. Others may or may not give the money to good causes.

But there is an argument that, bad timing aside, MPs need to be paid better. As Ben Brogan of the Daily Telegraph writes this morning, former Labour Home Secretary Jack Straw and Tory David Ruffley are among the few MPs to suggest that the rise may have merits, with Straw suggesting that it could help with "recruitment from people of modest background".

Former Tory MP Paul Goodman, writing for ConservativeHome, says all this indignation at the pay rise is only likely to persuade more MPs to stand down in 2015. The risk, he says, is that "the Commons will shuffle a little further down the road to becoming the preserve of the fanatical, the rich and the union-funded. The ambitious will go in, become Ministers – and get out as fast as possible.”

Far from defusing the row over how much our MPs are worth, IPSA’s report looks set to degenerate into a nasty witch-hunt for the MPs who take the rise. · 

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This is totally disgusting how the Times are favouring MP pay rise. Firstly commenting on how good they are for the country!!!
The country is in turmoil, they have created a poverty class, where food banks have been put in place; this is not organised through the government as a peace offering but by the Salvation Army. Created more redundancies to create as what the government calls 'scroungers'
Lower working class people having to rely on payday loans, just to see them through Christmas.
Scare mongering vulnerable people, darn't use heating facilities due to the large increase in fuel bills.
The list is endless of how ill treated British citizens are being treated.
Yet we can pay for a funeral, who the British people did not like. We can send millions to foreign aid under the human rights act (what about the British human rights). And most of all which is upsetting all the British people is the work and housing situation. Companies are being offered a £1000 per month training allowance to employ foreign immigrants, which cuts down on the work market, yet British citizens are forced to do cheap labour or work part time to earn their JSA. Yes I can see there are benefit scroungers, but they are not being touched because of being in a family environment and no work position can match up with what they are being paid on benefits. But single or middle aged or mild disability people don't get the chance of achieving work because employers are too choosy on who they pick and claim British people don't want the work; they don't mention about the training grant they are receiving.
Housing - properties are being knocked down to be rebuilt to a better standard. Leeds City Council was approached about the progress and in a statement mentioned (can't mention name due to confidentiality act) stated 'previous tenants have been relocated and the properties in the area concerned hasn't been decided yet if they are being knocked down or not. If they are placing British citizens back in they are staying as they are; but they are still plans to knock them down to rebuild the area into a more modern standard for our immigration housing problems. Which means properties from the Leeds City Council are good enough for the British, but not good enough for our foreign cousins.

By this letter you will think I am one of the scroungers - not true. I have qualifications for Councelling, Psychology, which means I have 1 to 1 with many people on a voluntary basis over the problems they are facing over changes of circumstances due to political management of people in power. for the last 17 years I have been working on a self employed basis in sales, because I now have a disability and it is very hard to get a 'normal' job when you have a disability due to periods of being hospitalised, but I am not the type to sit and twiddle my thumbs, so I do work and due to the treble recession that the government seems oblivious about most weeks I earn less than what I would receive in benefits.
Yes the government is correct benefits should be stopped completely which includes unemployed families (which might stop them thinking let's have another child; the state will give us another £50). This should be replaced by a training allowance of the same value including travel expense to give unemployed clients the chance to shake off the feeling of never been employed and give the confidence that is needed desperately for them to find work that suits their abilities; because that is what this country needs most 'rebuilding' and put the 'Great' back in Britain.
I will give an example at the moment houses are being built in vast majority, I am sure that every building site could use an extra few labourers as long as they get full training and recognised qualifications over the work that they do.
I will finish off on the human rights act again, the government needs to be told it is a two way thing!
Any further comments you could contact me on my e-mail address stephenj1960@googlemail.com.

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