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Embarrassed UK politicians condemn their 11 per cent pay rise

One government minister denounced the proposed increase as “wholly inappropriate” – but there’s not a lot MPs can do about it.

Image: Statue via Shutterstock

SENIOR BRITISH POLITICIANS have lined up today to condemn plans by an independent body to grant them an 11 per cent pay rise, embarrassed at how such largesse will be perceived at a time of deep public spending cuts.

Ministers from the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition and the leader of the opposition Labour party have said they would not accept the extra cash.

But they have little power over the issue, after members of parliament (MPs) delegated salary decisions to a body of unelected officials in the wake of the 2009 expenses scandal.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) is expected to recommend this week that MPs’ pay rises from £66,396 to £74,000 (€88,000) a year after the 2015 election.

Research by the watchdog earlier this year found that 69 per cent of MPs believe they are underpaid and on average, they suggested a salary of £86,250.

But Danny Alexander, the second most senior minister in the Treasury, today denounced the proposed 11 per cent increase as “wholly inappropriate”.

“Most people will find it utterly incomprehensible that at a time of pay restraint for the public sector, at a time of further squeezes on government spending, that IPSA should be recommending (that),” he told BBC television.

I think it would be wholly inappropriate for MPs to get such a large pay rise at a time when every other public sector worker sees their pay rises capped at one per cent.
I have said in the past that of course, personally, I wouldn’t accept it.

Defence Minister Philip Hammond echoed this message, saying that while there were good arguments for a pay increase — notably to attract professionals into parliament — this was “not the moment”.

The coalition has since 2010 been implementing an austerity programme to help reduce the deficit, and the spending cuts are not expected to ease for several years to come.

“So long as I’m the defence secretary presiding over a situation where the troops that serve our country so brilliantly are facing a one per cent pay rise, I won’t be taking a pay increase,” Hammond told BBC radio.

Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron has stopped short of pledging to reject the cash but his spokesman urged restraint from IPSA.

“We believe that the cost of politics should be going down, not up,” the spokesman said.

- © AFP, 2013

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