Independent bodies can have a politically unhelpful mind of their own


          At the height of the controversy over MPs expense claims in the last Parliament, it became fashionable amongst MPs to want to create an independent body which would settle MPs pay, expenses and office support without any interference or votes by MPs.

          At the time I argued against in the many private  discussions and debates we had about how to proceed. I pointed out there had been past attempts to take MPs’  pay out of politics by linking MPs’  pay to a civil service grade or a basket of “comparators” for the job. Each of these attempts had been adandoned when the comparator pay advanced too quickly, leading to demands from the public that MPs did not take the rise the automatic system would award. MPs usually agreed, avoided the unpopular rise, and looked around for another way to determine  pay at a more acceptable rate.

          So it came as no surprise to me that this time an independent body proposes an 11% pay rise for MPs in 2015, just after a period of substantial public sector pay restraint which so far MPs have rightly shared.  The public who express a view are strongly against any such rise. Party leaders are aghast, understanding the impact any suggestion they support such a rise could have on their own and their party’s standing.

         The  party leaders are urging IPSA to think again. Yet it was the party leaders who were keenest on the idea of an independent IPSA in the first place.  IPSA has until 2015 to consider. It will fall to the new government elected in 2015 to decide what to do. If that government does nothing, and IPSA presses on, MPs will receive an unpopular rise, balanced in  part by meaner terms on pensions and expenses. If  the government wishes to stop this, it either has to abolish IPSA, or override their pay decision by amending the law in some way that would allow this.

         I think we are rediscovering an old truth. The  pay of MPs is a highly charged political matter. In the end MPs are forced  to settle the matter themselves, and explain to people how and why. The independent regulator does not seem to have prevented continuing controversy. If the MPs ride out the storm by stressing IPSA’s independence, that will still be seen by some as the MPs themselves wanting and getting a pay rise.

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  1. lifelogic
    Posted December 10, 2013 at 5:41 am | Permalink

    Indeed MPs need to deal with the issue themselves and defend that position to the voters. They are, for better or worse, in control of it – however they try to distance themselves.

    There are no directly comparable jobs or ones with such good pensions and fringe benefits, A few MPs, perhaps 20%, could clearly earn more outside parliament but so what. Many earn more in “consultancies” only because they are MPs and are believed to have contacts, inside knowledge and influence. Many are virtually unemployable other than in some menial capacity.

    The general quality, knowledge of science, industry, economics, business, engineering and numeracy of most MPs is abysmal. Whenever I hear a discussion in the house on any subject, that I know anything about, I despair at the general level ignorance and stupidity.

    I cannot help but feel that the less they are paid then the better the quality of MPs we will get. Career politicians, who follow the line to keep the job, are the last thing we need any more of.

    • bigneil
      Posted December 11, 2013 at 2:08 am | Permalink

      I believe that most of the pro EU MPs are only hoping to go from one gravy train to another – just stuffing their pockets from a different trough – and they don’t actually care what happens to this once beautiful – now doomed – country.

      • lifelogic
        Posted December 11, 2013 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

        Indeed career politicians everywhere you care to look. Which way should will they vote? They will of course do as told for their career advancement, be it in the UK or the EU or a just “consultancy” seeker – not that they would let it affect their judgement/voting of course.

        Democracy has nothing to do with it.

  2. Arschloch
    Posted December 10, 2013 at 6:39 am | Permalink

    How do you find a “comparator” job for that of an MP when you can become one without even having to pass a literacy test? The easiest solution is to pay an MP whatever he was earning before he was elected. If its going to cost a lot of money for someone like you or Geoffrey Robinson then its a price worth paying if it deters the otherwise unemployable from becoming an MP or those who see politics as a path to self enrichment

    • Hope
      Posted December 10, 2013 at 9:06 am | Permalink

      It is only a part time job which does not make any compulsion to attend or act in huge interests of those who elected them. Despite promises of right to recall to get some balance on the corrupt, dishonest and lazy, that parliament or IPSA are unable or unwilling to sort out, the numbers of politicians and SPAds have grown as have their expenses and they have unanimously failed to deliver higher standards or an equivalent standard to other public sector bodies.

      The politicians are very quick to demand pay restraint or take away pensions and titles from others, when it comes to politicians there are NO standards or any sense of urgency to sort out the House of Corruption. What true consequences have there been? The police need to be involved far more quickly and far more thoroughly than has been the case to date. It is bewildering why so many escape(d) proper investigation and justice.

      JR’s point on pensions is absolute rot. This is a part time job, what other public sector body would give such high pensions to people who are part time and do not have to attend and can have limitless other jobs- there are not any. How many would be given houses or allowed to flip between two houses so both are refurbished at public expense. Moreover, they do not have to think they are told how to vote and most laws are created by Brussels not them!

    • lifelogic
      Posted December 10, 2013 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      And you can even become deputy PM without (qualifications) and (get ionvolved with your staff ed) it seems.

      Reply You are not referring to the current DPM I think.

  3. Brian Taylor
    Posted December 10, 2013 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    As you failed to reduce the number of MPs when the Lib Dems spat there dummy out over boundaries and all parties keep increasing the number that can go to the Lords on £300 a day you should all have a Reduction in pay until you sort the numbers out!!

    • lifelogic
      Posted December 10, 2013 at 9:15 am | Permalink

      £300 a day tax (and NI) free in the Lords is it not? So equivalent to about £2,500 for a week and you do not even have to stay there for long. Perhaps just long enough for the subsidised lunch.

    • Robert Taggart
      Posted December 10, 2013 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      here, Here, HERE !

    • JoolsB
      Posted December 10, 2013 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      And that should include the 117 part-time MPs who have absolutely no say on most matters for their own constituents because those matters are devolved to another layer of politicians in the Scots, Welsh & NI Parliaments. They are part time on full time salaries, expenses and pensions and the only way they can justify their existence is by meddling and voting on matters which do not affect them or their constituents in any way.

  4. Mike Stallard
    Posted December 10, 2013 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    This is really difficult: how do you deal with greedy, lazy and wicked people like you and me?

    You can force us to be good – until you turn your back on us. Then we despise you and do it anyway. And, of course, the Regulators are just like us – ambitious, greedy, bossy, lazy people too.

    You can ask us politely and we agree politely and then go and do it anyway.

    The best – and only way really – way is to leave it to us as a group. We all know what is going on. We all know who we can rely on. And trust. And we despise and scorn people who do not live up to our code. Remember the duck house?

  5. Stephen Almond
    Posted December 10, 2013 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    How much does it cost to run IPSA?

    • Robert Taggart
      Posted December 10, 2013 at 11:27 am | Permalink

      How much does it cost to run Parliament ?

      • acorn
        Posted December 10, 2013 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

        The last time I did the numbers, HoC cost just over £250,000 per sitting hour. It is probably nearer £300,000 now.

        IPSA had 58 fte staff for 2013/14 to handle 3,700 MPs and their staff. An above average pay office staff ratio for any regular corporation. Then, they do handle 198,000 claims for business costs and expenses, summing to £25 million. The whole outfit spent £154 million, about 4% was IPSA operating costs. About a total average cost per constituency of £236,000 for 2012/13.

        The strange bit is IPSA handled over 21,000 written enquiries from MPs and
        their staff, supposedly to find out if they could or could not claim for something.

        • Robert Taggart
          Posted December 12, 2013 at 10:48 am | Permalink

          Far too much then !

    • Mark
      Posted December 10, 2013 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

      The budget for it was £6.364m in 2011/12 – £9,790 per MP. No business could afford such costly bureaucracy to monitor its employees’ pay and expenses.

    • formula57
      Posted December 11, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      About £6 million – to administer paying MPs (wages, expenses etc.) c£170 million.

      (See Page 6 of,%20Corporate%20Plans%20and%20Estimates/Main%20Estimate%202012-13.pdf )

      A better arrangement would be to allow MPs a flat rate allowance to cover estimated fair expenses that they are then wholly responsible for spending as they see fit with no extra accounting or accountability save for an annual expenses report to their constituents. That way £6 million (less the costs of setting the allowance) could be saved by abolishing IPSA and MPs could decide for themselves within their allowance how they equipped and provisioned themselves to discharge their duties.

  6. Jennifer A
    Posted December 10, 2013 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    Labour MPs should not take a pay rise at all. Their ideology should be against such a pay gap growing between them and ordinary workers.

    Conservative MPs should take a pay rise once they have more work through repatriated powers from the EU

  7. Narrow shoulders
    Posted December 10, 2013 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    Those MPs who believe the 11% proposed rise is justified should resurrect the proposed boundary changes scrapped when Mr Clegg reneged on his agreement.

    Following a 10% reduction in the number of MPs an 11.4% rise in salaries would represent only 0.25% more than the current number being awarded 1% on their salaries at this time. A more palatable total cost and productivity outcome for the voters.

    • Tom William
      Posted December 10, 2013 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      Excellent idea. It could have been thought up by Sir Humphrey Appleby (remember the problem of MPs pay 20 years ago in Yes Prime Minister?) and, as his then solution (tied to a Civil Service grade), will never be adopted.

      • Mark
        Posted December 11, 2013 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

        A pay rise for Sir Humphrey would be a pay rise for the Minister. Mutual back-scratching would ensue.

    • uanime5
      Posted December 10, 2013 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      Just one problem Narrow shoulders: the boundary changes weren’t scrapped, they were delayed until after the 2015 election. So they can’t be introduced without first amending the date the boundary reforms can come into effect. As the Lib Dems and Labour are unlikely to support this there is no prospect of it happening.

      • Narrow Shoulders
        Posted December 11, 2013 at 8:07 am | Permalink

        A pay rise is a fine motivator. If the public was found to favour paying the same total for fewer MPs you may find back bench pressure being applied to front benches

    • Timaction
      Posted December 10, 2013 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

      We simply don’t need all these politicians. 100 would be enough, especially as most of our laws are made by unelected dictators in Brussels.

      • lifelogic
        Posted December 11, 2013 at 7:10 am | Permalink

        Indeed and not even read by MPs before nodding them through.

      • Bazman
        Posted December 11, 2013 at 8:58 am | Permalink

        What cosy club that would be. Why not 10? Or even 1? Of course a Tory. As if they are not cosy enough.

  8. TGod
    Posted December 10, 2013 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    Your last sentence is a bit misleading because all MP’s were consulted in a survey by IPSA and most of them said that they wanted a large pay rise far in excess of the current pay restraint that is applied to most other public sector workers.

    Yes they are seen as wanting a large pay rise – they have asked IPSA for one.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted December 10, 2013 at 8:54 am | Permalink

      Yes, I noted that. Who would have thought that when asked MPs would have said they were underpaid? What kind of independent organisation reviews salaries by asking the recipients if they would like a rise? Incredible.

      • Bob
        Posted December 10, 2013 at 10:49 am | Permalink

        @Brian Tomkinson

        What kind of independent organisation reviews salaries by asking the recipients if they would like a rise?

        He who pays the piper calls the tune.

        IPSA is a fig leaf.

        The voters fell for it. They always do.

  9. David Hope
    Posted December 10, 2013 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    When you look at the absurd pay of the head of Ipsa it is hardly surprising.

    These quangos are always obsessed with equivalent pay. I’d argue that equivalent public sector pay in many roles is way too high given they lack any risk or competition and have guaranteed revenue. For the same reason comparing an MP to a private sector manager is not valid.

    Most importantly being an MP is an enormous privilege!!! MPs get to make the laws the rest of us must obey and set the taxes we are forced to pay. Pay should only be high enough so as not to stop large swathes of the population from standing. Many people would love to have this job and privilege

    I think it is safe to say that 65k is a lot more than the average person gets paid. You aren’t going to put off poor people with this level so it is utterly disingenuous for many to argue that this is a problem.If it becomes a problem (say constituency office expenses being paid very late) then that is a separate issue.

    Finally, high pay distances MPs from the circumstances of their constituents.

    So…. I’d like to see this huge increase cancelled and no more than modest increases start once average pay around the country is going up

  10. John Eustace
    Posted December 10, 2013 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    MP’s pay should be increased. We need quality candidates who can make a success of things in the real world and have acquired skills and experience. I’m not sure how many of the current crop, present company excepted, meet that criterion. Why should an MP earn less than a GP or a head teacher?

    Of course now is not the time. If there is a 1% cap being applied it should apply to all that are paid from the public purse.

    The failure over the years to tackle this issue and the loss of public trust are largely the fault of MPs past and present, so no point them complaining.

    • lifelogic
      Posted December 10, 2013 at 9:20 am | Permalink

      Perhaps the key here is to get the voters and party members to have more influence in the selection and de-selection of candidates (such as when they rat on voters or just behave appallingly.

    • Bob
      Posted December 10, 2013 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      @John Eustace

      We need quality candidates who can make a success of things in the real world and have acquired skills and experience.

      What? you mean like the genius bankers?

      Why should an MP earn less than a GP or a head teacher?

      Where to start? Maybe take a look at the lobby fodder that the party leaders parachute into safe seats. I know Mr Redwood doesn’t like us to mention individual names, so I won’t, but when you look at some of the placemen that occupy the House of Commons, I think it’s highly inappropriate to compare them to doctors and teachers.

    • Cary
      Posted December 10, 2013 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

      There’s no evidence increasing MPs pay will increase their quality. Indeed the 2010 new MP intake is generally thought to be good, although pay is now low relative to previous years.

      There is no perfect solution but a link to civil service pay would at least provide a reasonable evidence base to support any increase and probably mesh with the economic cycle.

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted December 10, 2013 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      Chris Huhne and David Laws made it in the real world. I neither respect their decisions nor their conduct. Similarly the Lords who fell foul of the expenses scandal had all made it in the real world.

      I am more interested in the selection process for these candidates than what they earn. Good people deserve to be properly (though not excessively) paid

    • uanime5
      Posted December 10, 2013 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      Well GPs do require nearly a decade of training (something they have to pay for themselves) and head masters have to spend nearly as long becoming teachers. By contrast MPs don’t need any qualifications or pay for any training.

      • APL
        Posted December 11, 2013 at 7:20 am | Permalink

        uanime5: “By contrast MPs don’t need any qualifications or pay for any training.”

        Exactly! What other organisation would allow some body to walk in off the street with no qualifications, no experience and often no aptitude for the job, then bung them £64,000 per anum and give that person influence over his/her own pay and remuneration?

        JR: “If the MPs ride out the storm by stressing IPSA’s independence, .. ”

        Stop with the jokes John, if IPSA was independent, they would be offering a pay cut – in the middle such a deep and long recession.

        Funny how MPs are not all that keen on performance related pay – when it comes to measuring their own abysmal performance.

        • APL
          Posted December 11, 2013 at 7:29 am | Permalink

          APL: “What other organisation .. ”

          I am absolutely not making a case that MPs should go to MP college before becoming an MP.

        • Bazman
          Posted December 12, 2013 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

          Banking allows this and has.

          • APL
            Posted December 13, 2013 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

            Bazman: ” Banking allows this and has.”

            We’ll turn you into a capitalist yet, Baz.

            Yes, banking allowed that, but if a few had been allowed to collapse, the consumer accounts protected to the government £100,000 guarantee, the management fired, sued or prosecuted. We’d be in a much better circumstance than we are now.

            It’s the Socalists that attempt to defeat the economic cycle, in the process making the catastrophe many times worse, they are deluded.

          • Bazman
            Posted December 14, 2013 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

            Bankers are socialists? There’s a thing.
            What we are dealing with is socialism for the rich and communism for the mega rich from all sides.

          • APL
            Posted December 14, 2013 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

            Bazman: “Bankers are socialists?”

            Don’t be obtuse of chap.

            It wasn’t bankers that bailed out the banks, it was Gordon Brown, wot saved the world. Except as we will find out, he didn’t.

          • Bazman
            Posted December 15, 2013 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

            Right wing fantasy was allowed to prevail. Do not forget this, right wing fantasists. As fantasists is what you are. LOL! Dreamers and fools. Ram it in capitals.

      • Hope
        Posted December 11, 2013 at 9:27 am | Permalink

        Well said Uni.

    • Hope
      Posted December 10, 2013 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

      It is a part time job that is for starters, no other public sector job would offer pay pension and expenses on a similar level for a part time job accept the BBC, they do not have to attend work on a regular basis, they can have as many second jobs as they like whether it conflicts with the job or not, the UK has more politicians than anywhere else in the world accept China, the whip system means they are told what to vote for and most laws are imposed from Brussells, they do not have to be qualified in anything unlike doctors and teachers, the cost of their offices and second homes alone do not justify their existence, allegedly employ family members- how about the equality crap forced on everyone else ie interviews etc, the list is endless to your thoughtless question and remarks.

    • David Hope
      Posted December 10, 2013 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

      Being an MP is a privilege not a career!

      I want it to attract people who care and want to make a difference. Not someone who sees a nice salary whilst they make connections to gain a much bigger salary.

  11. Lesley
    Posted December 10, 2013 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Why not the same percentage increase as is given to The State Pension?

    • boffin
      Posted December 10, 2013 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      No, please, – the same increase in CASH terms as the State Pension

      • Lesley
        Posted December 12, 2013 at 9:07 am | Permalink

        Fair point.

  12. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted December 10, 2013 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    Abolish IPSA forthwith.

  13. rick hamilton
    Posted December 10, 2013 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Let IPSA offer an 11% rise by all means – and let MPs who actually are in touch with the real world say “No thank you, we can survive on what we have now, like millions of our constituents are expected to”.

    I wonder how many would have the decency to refuse a substantial increase, and how many of those who didn’t would keep their seats next time?

    • lifelogic
      Posted December 10, 2013 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      Including the generous pensions they are getting over 4 times the average wage, plus generous allowances, large pay offs, housing, expenses, subsidised restaurants and a creche too now I understant.

      Is that not enough? Most have other income and jobs too on top too. Often these other “consultancies” are only due to them being an MP anyway. Few would “consult” many of them otherwise?

  14. Bert Young
    Posted December 10, 2013 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Your blog today really raises the question of the effectiveness of the system of representation and the HoC . It is obvious from the performance of a number of individual MPs that they are unqualified and unfit for office ; the system and requirements of selection are seriously at fault ; the 650 or so MPs are far too many, and , the consequent costs are far too high . A review and overhaul is required urgently ; the recent IPSA recommendations for an 11% increase has focussed attention and brought about a very severe reaction from the public ; now is the time to do something about it . Such a review should also take into consideration Regional Parliaments and the question of whether there is a fair system of sharing costs and representation .

  15. Chris S
    Posted December 10, 2013 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    I thought that the increased pension scheme contributions and changes to expenses mean that the overall cost of the settlement is a reduction of £2m pa?

    I therefore see no real problem with it.

    Of course, had David Cameron not spectacularly mismanaged affairs and allowed LibDems ministers to threaten to vote against the boundary changes without advising them they would be sacked, we would be seeing a very substantial reduction in costs.

    Perhaps the PM should now suggest that the pay deal can go through but only if MPs in a free vote agree to push through the boundary changes which will substantially reduce costs?

  16. Richard1
    Posted December 10, 2013 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    In general I think having a bureaucratic body like IPSA sitting in judgement on elected MPs is inimical to democracy. Parliament is meant to be sovereign.

  17. Mark B
    Posted December 10, 2013 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    If the leaders of the three main parties are against this rise, they can easily give the increase to a registered charity, and ask those in their own parties to do the same. Any politician who does do so should be named, leaving those who did not somewhat looking red faced. Come 2015, if those in their respective constituencies have any decency or common sense, fat chance, may wish to vote for someone else.

    As for the conundrum of MP’s pay, might I suggest that this is a good time for the Government to look at other areas within the Public Sector, with regard to this matter. Namely, Councils, Civil Servants and Quango’s.

    I think it is time for root-and-branch reform, and a for of standard and codification for all public sector employees. No one, but no one, who is paid by the State (Taxpayer) should ever earn more than the Prime Minister. Sadly, one does not have to look far to see people in public office who are running a small Local Council who earn almost as much as the PM. This is wrong and I believe it is a good time to widen the debate.

    Reply IPSA is n ot proposing an 11% rise in this Parliament.

  18. oldtimer
    Posted December 10, 2013 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    IPSA was an attempt to stitch up a short term political fix. It has not worked – like so many other short term political stitch ups. MPs say they are powerless because they have surrendered their powers. They are not powerless; they can abolish IPSA if they wanted to. It reminds me of the situation vis a vis the EU. MPs claim they are powerless because they have surrendered their powers. They are not powerless; they can reclaim those surrendered powers if they want to. Hand wringing fails to convince me. It all adds to the impression that the current generation of MPs is quite spineless. And spineless = useless.

  19. Neil Craig
    Posted December 10, 2013 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    Keep present pay scales but give them bonuses if they keep government spending from rising or if we reach world average growth rates or better.

    I would not object to MPs getting £500K a year if we had China’s growth rate.

    • APL
      Posted December 11, 2013 at 7:24 am | Permalink

      Neil Craig: “I would not object to MPs getting £500K a year if we had China’s growth rate.”

      China’s growth rate is largely a fictional statistic produced by Communist central planners who must meet the five year plan targets, or else.

      Neil Craig: “MPs getting £500K a year, ”

      What if inflation was 700%?

  20. Russell Lewis
    Posted December 10, 2013 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    I liked the system described by Stephen Fry. The ancient Greeks, I think, where each member of the public could be called to service in the senate. Why could we not have a modified system here. Choose say a dozen members of the public two years before the election. Give the individuals time to align with political parties if they so wish. Then when successful pay them one and a half of their lost income capped at 70k. Salary issued solved.

    • Edward2
      Posted December 11, 2013 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      An excellent idea Russell which might work especially well in the Lords if some were picked in this way.
      A different form of jury service where you could be asked to become a Lord for a few years rather than being chosen by Party leaders.

  21. Martin Ryder
    Posted December 10, 2013 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    MPs’ (and local government councillors’) pay should be set at each election and should not change between elections. Each candidate should say how much they expect to be paid for the job and the amount should be shown on the ballot paper.

  22. Old Albion
    Posted December 10, 2013 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Whether MP’s get a rise of 11% or 1%. Why should MP’s representing Scotland, Wales and N.Ireland get any rise at all?
    Since devolution the workload of those MP’s has dropped dramatically. They have little to do in Westminster, except interfere in English matters and vote policies onto the English that they wouldn’t tolerate being voted onto their constituents.

  23. Robert Taggart
    Posted December 10, 2013 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Oneself would not begrudge MP’s a pay rise – providing the following criteria were met…
    1. Slash their numbers – by fifty would be but a starter !
    2. Abolish the ‘other place’ altogether – a Unicameral Parliament would quite suffice – with ‘beefed-up’ select committees to oversee legislation.
    3. Construct or purchase an apartment block for all members somewhere close by. All members now have their own office accommodation provided – do they not ? This would be but the logical next step.
    4. Travel expenses should be limited to just one round trip per week between constituency and parliament plus occasional oversees ‘jaunts’ – and then only on official parliamentary business.

  24. Edward2
    Posted December 10, 2013 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Every time there is a vacancy in a constituency, there are large numbers of candidates applying to try to become the MP, so it leads me to think that the rate of remuneration is already too high.
    Wait until local parties say they cannot find anyone to choose because the pay is not attractive before increasing the pay of MP’s.

  25. Vanessa
    Posted December 10, 2013 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    I presume these “bodies” are populated with people? If so what planet do they live on? It is not as though an independent body is not part of society as is Parliament. I do not understand why these people who makes such idiotic decisions do not have families, or children etc. They must know that we are very much LESS well-off now – or are they all robots programmed to spend my money in utterly irresponsible ways because they think that they contribute not one jot.

  26. English Pensioner
    Posted December 10, 2013 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Who appoints IPSA? Who decides the salaries paid to IPSA?
    Do we have the usual circular pay round, MPs appoint IPSA and set their salaries in relation to the people that they are dealing with, the MPs. In turn IPSA sets MPs’ salaries at a level which in due course will lead to themselves getting a rise.
    We see this elsewhere, the remuneration committee of one company setting the directors salaries, the same directors sit on the remuneration committee of another company and recommend similar increases for those who recommended their own.

  27. Denis Cooper
    Posted December 10, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    It is not only sad but extremely dangerous that over five decades the old political parties have been able to bring Parliament into such disrepute with the people it is supposed to represent; it is almost as though the successive leaders of those parties have been trying to make the British people give up on their national democracy.

    But why on earth should they want to do that? That’s not difficult to understand, in fact it’s obvious; it’s because irrespective of the views and wishes of the rest of us THEY have transferred THEIR primary allegiance elsewhere, to the EU, and THEY have abandoned any commitment to our national sovereignty and democracy.

    Bear in mind that the election of an MP by constituents is only the last stage of a process which starts when the few individuals who control the national political parties approve potential parliamentary candidates; the MPs who fiddle their expenses, that MP who was put in jail for perverting the course of justice, that other MP who now refers to himself as an “ex-politician” and resents being summoned to put in an appearance at the House of Commons, and all those MPs who enthusiastically passed the Bill to allow Romania and Bulgaria to join the EU without the need for a single formal vote at any stage, and the 256 Tory MPs who actively voted against an amendment to reaffirm the sovereignty of their Parliament on January 11th 2011:

    all had been approved by their national political parties, and it is highly unlikely that any of them would be there if they had not been so approved.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted December 11, 2013 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      Comment missed for moderation here, pointing out how dangerous it is that the old parties have managed to bring our national Parliament into disrepute.

    • APL
      Posted December 11, 2013 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

      Denis Cooper: “all had been approved by their national political parties, ”

      Spot on!

      If you all must vote Conservative, vote independent ( of CCO ) Conservative.

    • APL
      Posted December 11, 2013 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

      Denis Cooper: “that other MP who now refers to himself as an “ex-politician” ”

      You mean the shameless rascal from Kirkcaldy.

      How about Kinnock ? Speaking on the Andrew Marr show; “The broadest backs bear the heaviest burden ” ( the wealthy ).

      (refers to his terms and conditions in EU employment ed)

      • APL
        Posted December 12, 2013 at 7:17 am | Permalink

        JR: “(refers to his terms and conditions in EU employment ed)”

        (makes further personal attack on Lord Kinnock, with inaccurate facts about the payment of the EU salaries and the financial arrangements in the Lords ed)

        • APL
          Posted December 13, 2013 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

          JR: “with inaccurate facts about the payment”

          Facts can be inaccurate?

          An opportunity for you to put the record straight.

          Let’s see the wagons being circled. As a spectacle it will be less than edifying.

  28. Mark
    Posted December 10, 2013 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Voters have every right to feel that MPs aren’t worth the salary paid to them when they troop through the lobbies blindly in obeisance to the whips while approving such measures as the Energy Bill, or in support of HS2. The number of MPs (including those with government and ministerial positions) who have the skill and knowledge to assess the matters on which they legislate is sadly very low.

    I would be very happy to see MPs paid substantially more – but the quid pro quo would be that anyone standing for election to Parliament would have to demonstrate proper skill and knowledge appropriate to the importance of the job they seek to fill. That, and a right of recall to tackle those who might abuse the privilege, would go a long way to dealing with the unhappiness of the electorate.

    After all, few object to Wayne Rooney getting £250,000 a week – enough to pay for 200 MPs.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted December 11, 2013 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

      I would say that the first and absolutely indispensable requirement for any MP is that he is personally and genuinely committed to the sovereignty of the Parliament of which he is a member; not just superficially committed to it if/when his party whips decree that he should appear committed to it but perfectly willing to oppose it if his party whips tell him to oppose it. After that, many other criteria can come into play, but without that deep personal commitment to the sovereignty of our national Parliament he should not be part of it.

  29. The Prangwizard
    Posted December 10, 2013 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    You were right, in my view, to oppose. Giving way to a peak of pressure on a matter of administration may have been seen by some at the time as a wise solution, but here it has lead to a bad mistake.

  30. Sebastian Weetabix
    Posted December 10, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Given there is no shortage of applicants for the position it would appear that pay levels are adequate as they are. That is the rationale the government applies to low-paid public sector jobs. Sauce for the goose…

    • Robert Taggart
      Posted December 12, 2013 at 10:50 am | Permalink

      Indeed, Milk for the ‘bix… !

  31. Antisthenes
    Posted December 10, 2013 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    I do not have the expertise to know if the 11% rise is fair and reasonable or not and I suggest most others do not either. Too often policies and decisions are made on perceptions that have no bearing on facts, circumstances or if the outcome will be beneficial or not. This is a very flawed way to run a political system and everyone suffers from it all too often. The problem I believe stems from poor education, intellectual deficiencies, envy and prejudice that the bulk of us suffer from. Perhaps only time can remedy these deficiencies and we humans will have to muddle along as we always do. An aid to the solution if I have identified the problem correctly is much greater involvement of the people in the political process which will improve knowledge, encourage reasoning and put a greater onus of responsibility on the governed who cannot then direct all the blame or praise on those who govern. On the pay rise issue this would mean that the final arbiters would be the people not IPSA or MPs.

  32. uanime5
    Posted December 10, 2013 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    At the height of the controversy over MPs expense claims in the last Parliament, it became fashionable amongst MPs to want to create an independent body which would settle MPs pay, expenses and office support without any interference or votes by MPs.

    Everyone on IPSA was recruited by The Speaker’s committee, which is made up entirely of MPs. Giving MPs the power to appoint every member of IPSA undermines it’s independence.

    So it came as no surprise to me that this time an independent body proposes an 11% pay rise for MPs in 2015, just after a period of substantial public sector pay restraint which so far MPs have rightly shared.

    IPSA proposed a huge pay rise because MPs told IPSA they needed a huge pay rise. These same MPs also ignored other reports which said that other public sector workers should be given a pay rise greater than 1%.

    Also what exactly is the reason why MPs no longer need to take part in the “public sector pay restraint”?

    The public who express a view are strongly against any such rise.

    Well the taxpayer is paying for MPs to get a higher salary at a time when their own wages and living standards are at best stagnating and at worst falling.

    Party leaders are aghast, understanding the impact any suggestion they support such a rise could have on their own and their party’s standing.

    So far Miliband and Clegg have said they will refuse this pay rise. Cameron has not yet commented on this.

    The pay of MPs is a highly charged political matter.

    Perhaps the simplest solution is to forbid the independent regulator to increase MP’s salaries at a higher rate than the average public sector salaries. That way MPs won’t get huge salary increases at a time when they’re making other public sector workers take a pay cut in real terms.

    Also of the Big 6 energy companies only 2 have passed on the £50 green saving to their customers. But given that they haven’t passed on any savings from falling energy prices I doubt anyone will be surprised by this.

    • Bazman
      Posted December 12, 2013 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

      As I said, though it is stating the obvious. Did anyone think they would? Don’t forget that this is in the Telegraph and not some labour supporting BBC type paper. Will you ever learn fantasists?

      • Edward2
        Posted December 13, 2013 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

        Bit of a non story really Baz.
        The Government has just a few weeks ago announced they will try to reduce bills by approx £50 and they expect that energy companies will pass this reduction onto their customers.
        The energy companies have already said they will pass on these savings.

        The reduction is made up by reducing the amount of money the energy companies are having to pay to PV panel owners and in subsidies for insulating homes and to having to use expensive wind power.
        Many applications are in the pipeline and savings will only be gained in the future not straight away.
        These saving are not being made by the energy companies and so are not yet being passed onto consumers.
        There is a fashion at the moment to blame energy companies when the real cause is the Governments own Climate Change Act.

        • Bazman
          Posted December 14, 2013 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

          Never did get back to us on the points raised by C4 dispatches on energy company accounting did you?
          Taking money from insulation projects to the poor is just retarded and regressive political thinking. If you insulate your house and install a more efficient boiler bills fall dramatically and forever not just fifty quid if the energy companies plays ball. Care to argue they do not or are you going to quote technical problems for grade 1 listed thatched cottages with no mains gas heated by electric Aga’s as the norm in this area?
          Maybe the billions spent on nuclear and the profits plundered by your insider companies could be used for this thus not requiring a new power station Leaving future money to be used for research into cleaner power station energy which could then be sold? The nuclear is so expensive as we have to employ companies to do things we once did ourselves.

  33. ITF Tory
    Posted December 10, 2013 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    Being an MP is an unskilled job. There are no qualifications required. It’s therefore hard to see how it can be compared to skilled professions, such as medicine, law, science and engineering, etc, etc. If any MPs are unhappy with their pay, then they are free to resign and try to earn more outside Westminster.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted December 12, 2013 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

      Some, or even many, MPs may be unskilled but their job is not.

  34. Chris
    Posted December 10, 2013 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    I wonder what your views are on the apparent “betrayal of Parliament” involving the abandonment of the House Business Committee promise apparently made by Cameron (and with it the chance to create an independent body to “hold the government to account?
    “Parliament is unable to even influence its own agenda, and remains a supplicant in its own House,” Graham Allen, the MP who did more than any other to try and win round the coalition, has declared.

    It’s the promise of a House business committee which has been broken. The idea was to give backbench MPs more say in setting the agenda of the Commons, as a way of loosening up the stranglehold grip the government has over parliament’s affairs.

    When David Cameron and Nick Clegg began their experiment in government together, they didn’t just agree to make this change by 2015. It was supposed to have happened by now. In fact, by the middle of 2013.

    Earlier this year the government had already made up its mind. It had seen the terrible political inconvenience wrought by the backbench business committee, a lite version of the reform which had been proposed in 2010. Remember that massive 81-MP rebellion against Cameron over the EU referendum? The idea we could see more and more of these divisions, embarrassing and undermining the authority of the prime minister, was just unthinkable.

    The action which followed was decisive and vicious. The backbench business committee, which everyone claimed was doing a good job, became diluted when the way it is elected changed, giving the party high commands more sway. It remains a shadow of what it could be – exactly as the government wants……”It seems governments of all complexions still fear an active, independent parliament, rather than having the confidence to see it as a partner,” Allen added.

    “The select committee that I chair bent over backwards to help the government honour its promise, offering assorted compromises and possibilities but to no avail.”

    MPs have known it in their hearts for many months. Only now are they finally admitting it openly: the government has betrayed parliament, and there’s nothing they can do about it.”

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted December 11, 2013 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

      I suppose that if MPs cared enough they could go on strike, or work to rule … just refuse to pass any of the legislation the government wants passed …

  35. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted December 10, 2013 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    Are any independent bodies truly independent? I know a couple of organisations who call themselves independent and simply go along with the bias flow.

  36. Paul
    Posted December 10, 2013 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    Increase MPs’ pay slightly by all means but abolish all expenses. If MPs were not able to fiddle the system and claim for such ridiculous things then the public might start to hold them in slightly less contempt.

  37. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted December 11, 2013 at 3:05 am | Permalink

    MPs should never be awarded an increase in remuneration during the parliament in which they are sitting. The same should apply to the salary of the Governor of the Bank of England. They and they alone have been responsible for the inflation that has affected everybody else. By all means vote yourselves an increase but it must not take effect until after the 2015 general election, when voters will have a chance to have their say.

    • Mark
      Posted December 11, 2013 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

      That is a good principle.

    • REPay
      Posted December 11, 2013 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

      good suggestion!

  38. REPay
    Posted December 11, 2013 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    I would be relaxed about the 11% if I did not fear it would make MPs even more careless of public expenditure than today’s posting suggests. Real expenditure in government spending – doubtless we will still hear lots more whining about “the cuts”…

  39. petermartin2001
    Posted December 11, 2013 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    It’s not good that politicians have the image problem they do, especially as most work very long hours. I don’t believe the general public are aware of the pressures of it all.

    It is even more worrying that democracy itself is not valued as it should be. It is usually taken as given by most of the population. It shouldn’t be. A quick glance at a history book, or a newspaper, should be enough to convince everyone just how much worse the alternatives are.

    Politicians should be reasonably well paid, of course. If they don’t do their job, if they don’t attend parliament often enough with out good reason, there perhaps should be a mechanism whereby they can be recalled by their electors. There are a few like that – but not many. It isn’t fair to limit MPs salaries on the basis that no qualifications are necessary for the job. On that basis there would be no interest in becoming an MP from anyone who was well qualified. Is that what electors would want? They can decide for themselves.

    Politicians might help their own cause if they were more positive themselves. At the height of the cold war, it was common for politicians to be more positive about western democracy. It is less common now, and there is a general air of pessimism about the future which is, IMO, quite unjustified. This pessimism is often fuelled by basic ignorance of how the economy works. The notion that western leaders have to go cap in hand to the Chinese to beg for money to fund their deficits is quite prevalent. It’s just too silly for words.

    Yes, there are economic problems but they are not insoluable. The future is potentially very good.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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