‘Now is not the right time to give MPs a pay rise’

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NOW is not the right time for MPs to be given a pay rise, say the region’s politicians.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority is expected to recommend that backbench MPs’ £66,000 salaries should increase to more than £70,000 from the election.

Portsmouth’s two MPs Penny Mordaunt and Mike Hancock say they want to reject any increase, while Meon Valley MP George Holingbery said the cost of politics should be ‘going down, not up’.

Mr Hancock said: ‘Can I ask people in the public sector to only take a one per cent rise or a zero per cent rise in their pay and then take one myself? It’s unacceptable.

‘This won’t be coming in until after the next election but we need to find a way to stop this in its tracks.’

Ipsa, which was set up as an independent body to regulate MPs’ pay and pensions in the wake of the expenses scandal, is expected to announce its initial recommendations later this month. The government could pass a motion to ignore them, but that would undermine having Ipsa in place.

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt said: ‘Having Ipsa in place is absolutely correct – we shouldn’t be voting on our own pay.

‘But when we have public sector people being asked to take very small increases in their pay, even if we accept raising MPs’ pay would be generally the right thing to do, we should not take the money.

‘If I was forced to take the money, if there was no way around it, what I would do is use the difference to contribute towards community projects in my constituency such as Wymering Manor and the Hilsea Lido.’

George Hollingbery said the issue of MPs’ pay couldn’t be dodged forever and said Ipsa’s recommendations, should ‘receive proper consideration’.

He added: ‘Given the financial pressure that so many people face, I can’t think that now is time for a substantial rise.

‘We need the cost of politics going down, not up. We have, though, to look at the future carefully and recognise that there may come a time when the only people who will be able to get involved in public service will be those of independent means or those with union backing.’