Need for our MPs to show sense on issue of pay

COMMENT: Let’s make these towers safe as soon as possible

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You might think that after the scandal of MP’s expenses that engulfed the nation in 2009, some lessons would have been learnt.

And indeed, with the creation of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa), it seemed they had.

But with the announcement that Ipsa has recommended an 11 per cent salary hike, perhaps not.

Ipsa’s recommendations will boost a regular backbencher’s salary from the current £66,396 to £74,000. The body claims this increase will be ‘cost-neutral’ thanks to changes made elsewhere to perks and pensions.

The cynical might suggest that by setting up Ipsa, it gives the MPs a chance to have plausible deniability when it comes back with a deal which appears to be overly favourable to them.

Despite that, Portsmouth South’s MP Mike Hancock is to be applauded for the robust stance he has taken on the matter.

As he put it: ‘The idea that we are all in this together but to take a pay increase this large is wrong.’

Although we are as a nation officially out of the recession, it certainly doesn’t feel like it for most people – especially as many, not just regular civil servants – are still facing tiny increases in their salaries, if not outright continuing freezes.

At a time when we are told that voter apathy is at an all-time high, this is exactly the kind of thing that makes the general public despair.

We need to see that our MPs are not out for their own self-interest. Although it is Mr Hancock who has spoken out here, what do the rest of the MPs in our area think of the pay proposal?

It would take a brave MP to come out in support of the recommendation even though Ipsa chairman Sir Ian Kennedy says they won’t cost taxpayers a penny more.

That doesn’t appear to be the issue here though – it is more about the perception of that 11 per cent, and that is what is doing even further damage to the repuation of our MPs.

But one thing no-one has fully answered is: how much is an MP worth?

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