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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Amis: Taken to task over rash decisions and ill-judged statements
booksThe Zone of Interest just doesn't work, says James Runcie
Life and Style
life – it's not, says Rachel McKinnon
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
travelFrom Notting Hill Carnival to Zombeavers at FrightFest
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Service Desk Engineer-(Support, ITIL, Software Vendor)

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Engineer-(Support, S...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel you sales role is li...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £45000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Key featuresA highly motivated ...

Service Delivery and Support Manager

£55000 - £75000 per annum + excellent benefits: Harrington Starr: Service Deli...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home