A local MP has published on social media how he will determine which charities should benefit from his largesse of giving away this years pay rise. Up and down the country other MPs will be making similar gestures. Perhaps some will have the dignity of doing so without drawing attention to their actions. In the overall scheme of things £74,000 for an MP is not out of kilter with the wages paid to many other public servants or many other professionals and I do not disagree with the conclusions that the MPs pay body has reached. However I also don’t disagree with the conclusions that other Independent pay bodies have reached over pay for teachers, for police officers etc. I also don’t disagree with the idea that local Councils and local Police and Crime Commissioners should be allowed to set our rates, based on their own political judgements and their accountability to you and I as their electors. That is where the case for our MPs, specifically those who are part of what was the coalition jumps clear of the rails. It was they who voted against the Nurses pay increase, it was they who decided to cap the rates that could be set by PCCs and Councils.
What is significant in the way in which they have treated their own pay rise, is that by giving away rather than capping the increase, they know the money will be there next year. Had they treated their salaries in the same way as they did the rates or the public sector pay, then any attempt at an increase in future years would be against the lower baseline figure.
I have yet to hear a single MP or even lobby group point out that at £4.5M the MPs pay rise is unaffordable when the nation is being asked to find £12Bn in savings, even in the face of an annual bill for our national democracy at some £2Bn. Indeed as an optimist I am still waiting to hear MPs raising their voices to argue for a reduction of say 20% in the cost of Parliament. This pay rise will add about 0.2% onto the bill for Parliament, so lets put away these pathetic offers of £7,000 here and there, and ask our MPs when they will offer us a £400M – £500M saving on the cost of running the Commons and the Lords. That may not deal with the national debt, but it would certainly resolve a real sense of inequality amongst our public services and show some linkage to the idea of us all being in this together!