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IPSA blog > Month of ideas > Posts > Matthew Elliott, Chief Executive, The TaxPayers’ Alliance


May 28
Matthew Elliott, Chief Executive, The TaxPayers’ Alliance


In addressing the question of how much MPs should be paid, what we have to keep in mind right now is that we remain in the midst of a deep economic crisis and families, councils and central government alike are all having to find ways of making savings.
And with our politicians (rightly) intent on trying to keep public spending down, it is essential that they adhere to the same discipline in the running of their own affairs.
In that context, there can be absolutely no justification for increasing MPs’ salaries this year or, in all likelihood, for the rest of this Parliament.
And when it comes to their pensions, too, the public will not tolerate MPs enjoying gold-plated deals that are unavailable to most of the rest of us.
It’s only since 1911 that MPs have received a salary, at which point they were paid the princely sum of £400 a year – equivalent to about £37,000 at today’s prices.
Today they each get £65,738, which is almost precisely two and half times the national average of £26,200.
For some MPs, pursuing a political career means taking something of a pay cut, whilst for others taking their place on the green benches, it will be the highest salary they’ve ever received.
It will ever be thus, and to me the current pay level seems to strike a pretty happy medium. And given that more than six candidates on average contested every seat at the last general election, there’s clearly no shortage of people willing to put themselves forward for the job.
However, I do believe it to be something of an anomaly that IPSA now gets to set MPs’ pay. MPs get to vote on how much of our money they take in tax, how they spend it and whether or not the country goes to war and so on – and on all those issues, they are then held accountable by their voters at election time.
It therefore strikes me as odd – and it certainly goes against the historic tradition of parliamentary sovereignty – that MPs no longer decide their own pay, since it would simply be another matter on which voters would be able to call their representatives to account at the ballot box.
The TaxPayers’ Alliance takes the view that, in order to maximise accountability, at the very end of each five-year Parliament MPs should have to vote on the pay, pension and allowances settlement for the duration of the next Parliament.
That way, the public can make a fully rounded judgement as to the value of their MP at each general election.
The danger of having a quango like IPSA set MPs’ pay is that if there is any public disquiet over the decisions it makes, there is nobody they can hold to account or put out of a job.



MPs expenses should be fixed at a lump sum payment by region. If their constituency is within 25miles of parliament 10k. And then pro ratio from other regions. No checking of expenses.
System Account on 6/26/2012 11:05 AM

Month of Ideas

If being an MP is an all embracing, 24 hour a day job as the ex- MPs wife says how so many of them have other high powered jobs, as businessmen, lawyers, journalists, appear on variety and chat shows- and in the case of when Boris Johnson was an MP, be the editor of a major national magazine (The Spectator) ? It is quite clearly a part time job.
System Account on 6/26/2012 11:06 AM


Sir Ian says there is no job description. Perhaps that is where he should begin. Set up a framework with for example, it is a full time job, no second job, recognition that the hardest working mps put in long days in parliament and in the constituency maybe that should be the bench mark. Once that has been established then we can look at what to pay. There also needs to be a recognition that some will serve only one term while others will serve many.
System Account on 6/26/2012 11:06 AM

Pay and Pensions

I believe MPs should have to live in the constituency they represent, and 1st term MPs should start on a lower salary which would increase upon each re-election, thus recognising experience gained and rewarding good service.
System Account on 6/26/2012 11:07 AM

Month of Ideas

There's nothing to debate here. If MPs vote to pass the forthcoming Public Sector Pensions Bill. Then they should apply identical changes to their own pensions. Indeed they should simply amend that legislation. If not I challenge any MP to look at a nurse, fireman, doctor, teacher and civil servant in the face.
System Account on 6/26/2012 11:07 AM

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