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."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Sport
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
football
News
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
video
Voices
Focus E15 Mothers led a protest to highlight the lack of affordable housing in London
voicesLondon’s housing crisis amounts to an abuse of human rights, says Grace Dent
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operations & Logistics Manager

£38000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's best performing...

Recruitment Genius: GeoDatabase Specialist - Hazard Modelling

£35000 - £43000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our award-winning client is one...

Recruitment Genius: Compressed Air Pipework Installation Engineer

£15000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Atlas ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Coordinator - Pallet Network

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity to join established...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea