Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Bid to block MPs' pay rise 'lunacy'

MPs are to be asked to give up a one per cent pay rise

MPs have expressed frustration over "foolish" Government efforts to block a 1% increase in their salaries.

Leader of the House Sir George Young confirmed he wants to scrap the independently-set rise in light of the wider freeze in public sector pay.

The move will require the Commons to pass a resolution, because awards by the Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB) have been automatically implemented since 2008.

Downing Street said it was important that everyone showed "restraint" on remuneration amid efforts to tackle the deficit. But the decision could leave the coalition on a collision course with backbenchers who believe they are already underpaid on £65,738.

Mark Field insisted it was "lunacy" for MPs to interfere with the SSRB's rulings - whether it ordered a pay rise or a pay cut.

"How are we going to regain the trust of the general public if once again we set our own salary rather than leaving it to the independent review body?" the Cities of London and Westminster MP said.

"That is the whole point of having an independent review. It is incredibly foolish what is being proposed. As MPs we should be steering well clear of the whole thing. It is an independent review and we should let them get on and do the job."

Mr Field said he doubted many other MPs would put their "heads above the parapet" and object publicly. "There probably won't be much opposition because they will all want to take a hair shirt. No MP is going to get great plaudits for taking a pay rise," he said.

A senior Labour backbencher, who did not want to be named, complained that MPs were now paid half what other comparable elected representatives received.

"We have an independent body looking at our expenses, and we have an independent body setting our pay," they said. "It is a very modest pay rise and it should go through."

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