Sylvia Hermon brands MPs' £7k rise 'daft', but parties fail to rule out taking it
A proposed 10% pay boost that would take their salaries to £74,000 has been described as daft by a Northern Ireland MP.
While MPs here say they are opposed to the salary hike, some may still end up taking it.
The DUP and Ulster Unionists have yet to decide whether to pocket the increase, while the SDLP has proposed a way around it.
The DUP - with eight MPs our biggest party - said the independent body that recommended the increase should think again.
But North Down independent MP Lady Hermon said: "When I first heard Ipsa's recommendations about MPs' salary my immediate reaction was to describe it as daft.
"I haven't changed my mind. It's still daft."
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority wants to raise salaries by £7,600 to £74,000 as a "one-off" pay rise, after which MPs' pay will be linked in future to average earnings.
A DUP spokesman said: "Ipsa justifies its proposal by pointing to reductions in other areas relating to MPs and say it is therefore cost-neutral.
"Ipsa should think again in this latest consultation process.
"Parliament has legislated to make Ipsa totally independent and above interference on all issues to do with pay and expenses of MPs so that their decisions are implemented automatically.
"We will be making our views known again to Ipsa as part of the latest consultation exercise."
New Ulster Unionist South Antrim MP Danny Kinahan said he was making no comment at the moment.
But he along with the other new UUP MP, Tom Elliott in Fermanagh and South Tyrone, are expected to take a common approach.
Asked for his personal view on the pay increase, he said: "I am not going into that. I would like to talk to Tom about it and he is not here this week.
"It is only out for consultation at this stage."
The SDLP, meanwhile, has proposed a tax mechanism under which the hike would be paid back into the public purse. Foyle MP Mark Durkan has written to Chancellor George Osborne as his party insisted the move was "wrong and inappropriate at a time of austerity" when families were facing challenging financial circumstances.
The party - which has three MPs - pointed out that some people in the public sector did not even receive a 1% pay rise.
In his letter, sent last November, Mr Durkan said: "As Chancellor, you could frame a budget measure which would require you to specify an annual tax code... to be levied on parliamentary salaries with the intent of neutralising Ipsa's imposed changes on pay, pensions etc so that the 'take-home' effect is compatible and comparable with wider public sector provisions."
A Sinn Fein spokesman said: "It doesn't apply to our MPs.
"Sinn Fein MPs don't get a wage from Westminster as we don't take our seats."
Ipsa has outlined plans to reform MPs' pensions, scrapping the "outdated resettlement payments worth tens of thousands", as well as "tightening up" the expenses rules.
Ipsa chairman Sir Ian Kennedy said: "We are sweeping away the out-of-date and overly generous benefits, and introducing a one-off uplift in pay. Crucially, thereafter MPs' pay will be linked to everyone else's."
If Ipsa's changes are implemented, MPs elected before 2015 - including the Prime Minister - will see a major boost to their pensions as they are based on final salary. After trumpeting a "freeze" in ministerial pay last month, David Cameron is now in line for a 5% bump in his total remuneration, while Cabinet ministers' overall pay will increase by 5.2%.