MPs provoke criticism with £4,000 annual rise

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Indy Politics

MPs provoked criticism last night by voting themselves a £4,000-a-year pay rise, staff allowances of up to £70,000 and expenses budgets worth thousands of pounds more.

MPs provoked criticism last night by voting themselves a £4,000-a-year pay rise, staff allowances of up to £70,000 and expenses budgets worth thousands of pounds more.

The inflation-busting increase will raise MPs' £48,371 salaries by £2,000 immediately, with a further £2,000 due from 1 April 2002.

Members will also enjoy an allowance of £60,000 a year to employ staff, rising to £70,000 for those MPs representing London constituencies.

They voted for a new £14,000-a-year "incidental expenses provision" to pay expenses incurred "wholly, necessarily and exclusively in discharging their duties as Members".

MPs also agreed to raise their additional costs allowance, money to cover their accommodation, from £13,628 to £19,468, as well as to upgrade their pension entitlement.

Robin Cook, the Leader of the House of Commons, urged MPs to accept the increases, telling them not to "sell themselves short".

The MPs' decision comes after Tony Blair took a controversial pay rise of nearly £50,000. Mr Blair ended the tradition of waiving a proportion of his and his cabinet ministers' salary by announcing he would be paid £163,418 a year. Members of the Cabinet saw their salaries increased to £117,979.

Those salaries will now rise again by the £4,000 agreed in the Commons for all MPs.

Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, accused MPs of "a double take at the trough.

"They are setting a very bad example to all other public servants," Mr de Gruchy said.

"As well as accepting the award by their review body, they have given themselves a very generous pension increase. Theirs will be based on a 40th [of final salary] – teachers get only an 80th."

The rise was criticised by some MPs. Chris Mullin, who resigned as a minister in the Department for International Development last month, said: "Every time we do something like this it adds to the great ocean of cynicism lapping at the foundations of the democratic process. I do not believe that there is any justification for awarding ourselves an extra £4,000 over the next two years; nor do I think we should be in the invidious position of having to vote on our own pay.

"I think that elected representatives should share the same sunshine and the same rainfall as those they represent. I do not accept that £49,000 is an inadequate salary. We are in the top 10 per cent of income earners."

But Clive Soley, chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party, said: "If people want good representation and Parliament to be more effective, we have to pay. Democracy doesn't come cheap."

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