If you thought that the days of taxpayer-funded duck-houses on Tory estates were over, think again. The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, which was created in the wake of the expenses scandal, reckons that MPs are going to have to get a pay rise or the expenses shenanigans will start up all over again.
Sir Ian Kennedy, who chairs the body, says it is ‘not a good time’ to be talking about MPs getting pay rises, but insists that we cannot just sweep the issue under the carpet. He also went as far as criticising David Cameron and Nick Clegg for saying they would reject the pay rise if it came their way, and said a rise of up to 15% (up to £75,000 per year) could be in order.
Importantly, the creation of Ipsa means it won’t actually be up to the MPs to decide whether they get more money. Kennedy says: ‘The legislation that gave us the responsibility is quite clear: the power to set the pay and pensions of MPs rests with IPSA alone. MPs do not get to vote.’
Of course, when cash strapped Britons are trying to keep the purse strings tight, there is something unpalatable about the idea of those who govern us getting a chunk of extra cash. But to be fair to them, an Ipsa study in 2012 found the mean average for pay across major democracies was just over £86,000. With UK MPs getting about £67,000, this does put them behind their foreign counterparts.
Kennedy also made a very good point – not paying MPs enough could deter people of lesser means from opting for a career in politics. He says: ‘We have taken as one of our guiding principles that MPs play a crucial role in our democracy and that that role should be recognised. The role of MPs sits at the heart of our democracy. It is in all our interests that this role is performed effectively.’