MPs split over plans for £7,000 salary hike from IPSA

Sir Keir Starmer. Picture: Polly Hancock.

Sir Keir Starmer. Picture: Polly Hancock. - Credit: Archant

MPs in Camden, Barnet and Haringey are split over controversial plans to hike their salaries by £7,000.

Tulip Siddiq. Picture: Nigel Sutton.

Tulip Siddiq. Picture: Nigel Sutton. - Credit: Nigel Sutton

New Labour MPs Tulip Siddiq and Catherine West have both voiced their opposition to proposals from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) to raise MPs’ salaries by 10 per cent from £67,060 to £74,000, in the face of a widespread public sector pay freeze.

Mike Freer. Picture: Nigel Sutton.

Mike Freer. Picture: Nigel Sutton. - Credit: Nigel Sutton

But Conservative Mike Freer and Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer have not opposed IPSA’s move, insisting the body should be free to make decisions independent of lobbying from MPs.

Catherine West. Picture: Polly Hancock.

Catherine West. Picture: Polly Hancock. - Credit: Archant

Holborn and St Pancras MP Sir Keir, the former director of public prosecutions, said: “Having overseen the prosecution of a number of MPs for expenses fraud, I firmly believe that any decision should be taken by IPSA, an independent body, without lobbying by MPs one way or the other.

“Personally, I accept that any increase is hard to justify in the current economic climate.”

Mr Freer, MP for Finchley and Golders Green, shared Sir Keir’s view.

He said: “Whilst I think the timing is less than ideal, the public wanted MPs to have nothing to do with the setting of pay. We set up an independent body to provide independent guidance and this is what they are saying.”

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Under the new plans, Mr Freer said MPs’ overall payroll was reduced by cutting pension payments and other aspects of the expenses regime.

Hampstead and Kilburn MP Ms Siddiq was unequivocal in her opposition.

She said: “It’s quite clear that the changes to MPs pay and pensions seem completely out-of-touch when nurses, police, firefighters and other public sector workers are having to deal with cuts and pay freezes.

“I do believe it’s the right procedure that decisions relating to MPs pay is made by an independent body, MPs shouldn’t have the right to vote on their own wages.”

Hornsey and Wood Green MP Ms West added: “I’m opposed to it so the question is how do MPs mechanically stop it. MPs shouldn’t be getting an increase at this critical time.”

IPSA was set up in 2009 after the parliamentary expenses scandal to take responsibility for monitoring and paying MPs expenses and salaries away from the House of Commons.

The body first tabled its plans for a salary rise in 2013 and is set to press ahead with the increase – to be backdated to May 8 – unless “new and compelling evidence” emerges by the end of June.

Prime Minister David Cameron has expressed his opposition.