Pay and Parliament: Ipsa chief says ducking decision on MPs' wages risks another expenses scandal
Sir Ian Kennedy ridicules politicians' objections to Ipsa plans after they wanted to be relieved of setting own pay
Constantly ducking a decision about MPs' pay risked a repeat of the expenses scandal, the man in control of the purse strings warned today.
Sir Ian Kennedy, head of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA), confirmed that the initial proposals to raise MP's salaries will be published on Thursday, for public consultation. IPSA is expected to recommend that an MP's annual salary should be increased by at least £10,000 from its present level of £66,396, to take effect form 2015. The rise would be offset by less generous pension arrangements.
Sir Ian dismissed the argument that this is the wrong time for a salary hike for MPs, saying that there will never be a good time to increase their pay.
David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband have all opposed the idea of a substantial pay increase for MPs, but in his Sir Ian came close to telling them to mind their own business.
"External, independent regulation means what it says: that you don't tell the regulator what to do," Sir Ian said, speaking at a meeting convened by the think tank IPPR.
He added that "the power to set pay and pensions of MPs rests "with Ipsa and with Ipsa alone" and that the Government "does not get to pick and choose."
"There is no opting in or out," he said.
When reports surfaced that MPs might receive a huge pay rise produced a notably mixed reaction in Parliament. Many MPs, especially those who have ministerial salaries or outside earnings to supplement their pay, were alarmed by the public backlash they could expect if their pay went up and said that they would refuse to accept the increase. Others, particularly those who have only their MP's salary to live off, were quietly pleased, though wary of saying so in public.
However, it was the MPs' own decision to hand the power to control their pay and expenses over to an independent body in the wake of the expenses scandal. Many are now resentful that they are on the receiving of public anger over their proposed pay rise when they are powerless to do anything about it.
Sir Ian ridiculed the way that MPs had persistently said that they wanted to be relieved of the responsibility of setting their own pay, then objected when IPSA took over the job.
"It may appear pedantic to remind everyone, including leading politicians, that IPSA was created by Parliament to effect a clean break with the past," he said.
"That past, as regards pay, was a frequent rejection by the Government of the day, with MPs, often reluctantly, falling into step behind them, of external bodies' recommendations that MPs' pay be increased. This rejection was coupled with a gradual engorgement of a system of allowances.
"It was inevitable that such an approach would end in tears. The only hope for successive Governments, all of whom knew that things were a bit dodgy, was that when the balloon went up, it would not be on their watch. The balloon duly went up in the summer of 2009.
"Of course, this is not a good time to be talking about the pay element of the package, save to notice that in the public sector pay increases are limited to 1% a year. But given that there has never been a good time, this is as good a time as ever," Sir Ian added..
"Moreover, we know what happens when the element of pay is pushed aside as being simply too hard - the nods and winks school of public financing emerges, and ultimately we end up with circumstances like 2009."
- 3 The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
- 4 British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Paris attacks: Do not call Charlie Hebdo killers 'terrorists', BBC says
UK weather: Snow to fall in the coming week with sub-zero temperatures to last until early February
Asteroid narrowly scrapes past Earth: how to watch the closest space rock for decades as it flies by
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Prince Philip set to be knighted by Australia: Celebrate by reading his greatest gaffes
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
30,000 reasons why the rhetoric on immigrants claiming benefits can stop now
£38000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's best performing...
£35000 - £43000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our award-winning client is one...
£15000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Atlas ...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity to join established...