12 December 2013
Last updated at 05:45 ET
The body which sets MPs’ salaries has confirmed that it plans to give them an 11% pay rise, claiming this will not cost the taxpayer “a penny more” once other changes are taken into account.
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) wants to raise salaries by £7,600 to £74,000 in 2015.
David Cameron calls it “inappropriate” while Ed Miliband requested talks between the party leaders and Ipsa.
But Ipsa said public opinion was “more nuanced” than the “outrage” suggested.
The proposed package, to take effect in 2015, will include a “one-off” pay rise after which MPs’ pay would be linked to average earnings.
Ipsa has also outlined plans to reform MPs’ pensions, scrapping the “outdated resettlement payments worth tens of thousands”, as well as “tightening up” expenses rules.
The package also calls on MPs to produce an “annual account of their work to help their constituents understand what it is MPs actually do”.
Ipsa chairman Sir Ian Kennedy said: “We are sweeping away the out-of-date and overly generous benefits, and introducing a one-off uplift in pay. Crucially, thereafter MPs’ pay will be linked to everyone else’s.
“We have designed these reforms so they do not cost the taxpayer a penny more. When taken with the tens of millions we have saved by reforming the business cost and expenses regime, we have saved the taxpayer over £35m with the changes we have introduced since 2010.”
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Time for a Christmas quiz… Question 1 – Should MPs set their own pay?”
Andrew McDonald, Ipsa’s chief executive, said a two-year consultation had found the public was “split down the middle” on its plan – which it said would not cost “a penny more” than current arrangements.
“This shows us something important: this is an issue where the public has a more nuanced, and split, opinion than the reactive howls of ‘outrage’ from some commentators and politicians,” he said.
He said the message that costs would not increase had been lost in the “hubbub of the last few days”.
Once it is heard, he said, he hoped commentators would “pause before making sweeping assumptions about what the public think without asking them”.
‘Build public confidence’
On Wednesday Mr Cameron said: “I think it would be wrong for MPs to get a big pay rise at a time of public sector pay restraint.”
Ipsa does not need Parliament’s agreement to make the changes.
But the prime minister said that – while “no one wants to go back to MPs voting on their own pay” – there must be an “outcome that can build public confidence”.
Labour leader Mr Miliband opposed the rise and said the three main parties must “get together to deal with this”.
Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has said the pay rise would be “wholly inappropriate”.
Earlier Ipsa chairman Sir Ian had written in an article for the Times newspaper: “I can see why some would want to wish the issue away, hoping that a ‘cross-party’ review will provide the cover for kicking it into the long grass, just as happened with party funding years ago.
“There is a tension between the reasoning and the politics but we were asked to fix the problem for a generation, not for a news cycle. That is what we have done.
“The alternative approach takes us back to the days of political deals, with scandal never far away.”