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MPs should accept 10% pay rise - David Cameron

Published 16/07/2015

David Cameron has previously said the pay rise was
David Cameron has previously said the pay rise was "unacceptable" but last month Downing Street said he would accept the hike

David Cameron has insisted MPs should accept their pay rise despite widespread anger over the £7,000 hike.

The Prime Minister is facing a furious backlash after the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) confirmed a 10% raise for MPs, despite the rest of the public sector being capped at 1% for another four years.

Some MPs have said they will forfeit the cash but Mr Cameron told them "you should take the rate for the job".

He told ITV News: "My view is this money is paid straight to MPs. It's a matter for Ipsa. Personally I think the right thing to do is to be paid the rate for the job and that's what I will do.

"As many MPs have said, it gives you an opportunity to do more in terms of charitable giving and things like that but I think MPs ... you're paid a rate for the job and you should take the rate for the job and it's done independently. I don't actually think this was the right decision but the bit I'm responsible for, ministers' pay, cut and frozen."

Ipsa said the issue of politicians' salaries could no longer be "ducked" and it is pushing ahead with the increase from £67,060 to £74,000.

But it climbed down on plans to link their pay to UK-wide average earnings in future - a move that could have left MPs £23,000 better off by 2020. Instead they will be restricted to average rises in the public sector.

The Prime Minister said the Westminster watchdog was wrong to push ahead with the new pay package, which will be backdated to May 8 and tied to cuts in pensions and expenses.

He said: " I don't think it's the right decision but what I'm responsible for is ministers' pay and I cut it by 5% when I became Prime Minster."

Downing Street has refused to say whether Mr Cameron will donate the extra cash to charity, insisting that how he spends his salary is "a private matter".

Confirmation of the boost came just minutes after the Government announced that police officers will receive a 1% increase.

The hike was originally unveiled in 2013 to address complaints that MPs' pay has dropped behind that for other jobs, but Ipsa last month conducted a review to determine whether there was "new and compelling evidence" that it should not go ahead.

In its new report, the watchdog said the additional four years of public sector pay restraint unveiled by Chancellor George Osborne in the Summer Budget represented "compelling evidence".

It said MPs' salaries would now go up every April in line with average weekly public sector earnings, rather than those for the whole workforce.

OBR forecasts show UK-wide average earnings going up 3.6% in 2016, 3.9% in 2017, 3.9% in 2018, and 4.1% in 2019, and 4.4% in 2020.

On top of the £7,000 bump this year, that would have left MPs receiving nearly £90,000 in 2020 - a rise of £23,000 or 34% over five years.

By contrast public sector earnings are only expected to go up by around 5% over the period.

Labour leadership candidate Yvette Cooper called on the Prime Minister to intervene to stop the increase, something which would require a change in the law.

"This is crazy," she said "How on earth has David Cameron allowed this to happen?"

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: " If pay restraint is at an end for politicians - who are public servants too -­ it should also be over for nurses, teaching assistants, hospital cleaners, council staff and other public sector workers."

A petition on the change.org website calling for the MPs' rise to be stopped has now gathered 450,000 signatures.

But Ipsa chairman Sir Ian Kennedy defended the rise: "Over the last Parliament, MPs' pay increased by 2%, compared to 5% in the public sector and 10% in the whole economy.

"It is right that we make this one-off increase and then formally link MPs' pay to public sector pay."

Ipsa has made clear the extra money will be paid to MPs automatically, but they are free to give sums to charity. The watchdog operates a payroll giving scheme that allows them to make donations from their gross salary.

The proposals have caused bitter divisions among MPs, with some decrying the award and others arguing they have been underpaid for decades.

It has also split ministers, with Ms Morgan breaking ranks to declare she will give the money to charity and International Development Secretary Justine Greening warning that Ipsa is "not working in its current form".

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond is likely to be reminded of comments from 2013 when he indicated he would not accept a pay rise while the rest of the public sector was being restrained.

Michael Gove, now Justice Secretary, memorably declared around the same time that Ipsa could "stick" their pay rise.

According to the Ipsa report, a number of MPs wrote in to support the pay rise.

They included Foreign Office Minister Tobias Ellwood, who said: "I know I speak for the silent majority (who are not millionaires) to say this increase is well overdue."

Labour MP and Home Affairs Select Committee chairman Keith Vaz said: "I am supporting Ipsa's recommendations as they have been done independently of members."

Tory Mark Field insisted: "Ipsa ... must work totally free from government influence."

Rory Stewart, Conservative ex-chairman of the defence select committee, wrote: "A n independent body such as Ipsa is now and should be in the future the appropriate body to make recommendations - not MPs themselves.

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