Northern Ireland MPs 'forced to take 10% salary hike'
Northern Ireland MPs who take their seats in Parliament cannot refuse to take an inflation-busting 10% pay rise announced by an independent pay review body - even though they are all opposed to it.
The compulsory pay hike - which will take MPs' pay to £74,000 per year - has been described by one local MP as "daft - very daft".
Independent North Down MP Lady Sylvia Hermon said: "When the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) first recommended a pay increase for MPs, my initial reaction was to describe the proposal as daft - very daft. I haven't changed my mind."
The Commons pay rise was recommended by IPSA, headed by Sir Ian Kennedy. His review did not receive any submissions from the Conservatives, Labour or the SNP, but the Liberal Democrats, Greens, DUP and Ulster Unionists all voiced their opposition.
But while MPs will be given the extra pay whether they want it or not, they can still decide whether to pocket it or not.
The UUP said that it would accept the recommendations of the IPSA review.
The SDLP said that its three MPs would donate their pay rise to charity, and the DUP said its MPs would be meeting to discuss the issue. An SDLP spokeswoman said that the party's MPs would donate their pay rise to charities chosen by the individual MPs.
Sinn Fein MPs do not take their Westminster seats, and so do not receive either salary or pension benefits from Parliament - although they do take advantage of other perks, such as office and accommodation expenses and funding for staff.
However, West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty said his party was opposed to pay hikes for political representatives,
"At a time when the Tory Government are cutting services, welfare and public spending to the bone there can be no justification for this increase," he said.