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Miliband urges joint attack on pay

Labour leader Ed Miliband has called for a cross-party approach to prevent a proposed 11% pay rise for MPs going ahead.

Mr Miliband is among a number of senior polticians who have condemned the plan being drawn up by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) for a £7,600 hike in MPs' salaries to £74,000 after the 2015 general election.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond indicated that he would not accept the extra cash while armed forces pay was being pegged back, while Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said the public would find it "utterly incomprehensible" if Ipsa defied concerted calls from David Cameron, Mr Miliband and Nick Clegg to show restraint.

Ipsa was given responsibility for Westminster pay and perks in the wake of the expenses scandal. MPs were stripped of the power to set their own pay in a move intended to take the issue out of the arena of political controversy.

But reports at the weekend that the watchdog was poised to propose an 11% rise sparked massive controversy at a time when many public sector workers are suffering a 1% cap on pay hikes.

A spokesman for Mr Miliband said: " If the package of proposals being set out by Ipsa is as reported, it cannot go ahead when people are going through the biggest cost-of-living crisis for a generation.

"We cannot have an outcome for MPs which does not command public confidence.

"Therefore we are asking the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats for a cross-party approach which recognises the current economic circumstances where workers in the public and private sectors are going through such difficult times."

Downing Street has declined to say whether David Cameron is ready to accept the expected above-inflation pay hike.

The PM's official spokesman told a regular Westminster media briefing: "I don't believe Ipsa have made a formal proposal yet. Any proposal that they make will be reviewed in mid-2015.

"The Prime Minister's long-standing position is that the cost of politics should go down, not up. He doesn't think that MPs' pay should go up while public sector pay is being restrained."

In an anonymous survey conducted by Ipsa earlier this year, MPs suggested that they should be paid an average of £86,250, with one-fifth of those questioned saying they should get £95,000 or more.

Charles Walker, Conservative MP for Broxbourne, said he "absolutely" would take the pay rise planned by Ipsa.

He told BBC Radio 4's World at One programme: "I've been working since I left university for 25 years and I have never turned a pay rise down and I don't intend to start turning any future pay rises down.

"Look, I am the Member of Parliament for Broxbourne. They have neither elected a saint or a millionaire. I am a flawed human being, with many flaws, but, I'm afraid, I will accept the pay rise."

Mr Walker took a swipe at Lib Dem leader Mr Clegg, whose wife Miriam is a high-earning lawyer, telling the programme: "There's not many people who would turn down a pay rise except those, perhaps, who view being a Member of Parliament, or dare I say, the Deputy Prime Minister as somewhat of a hobby job which is supported by a high-earning spouse."


From Belfast Telegraph