The row over MPs’ pay received significant media coverage last week.
Following the expenses scandal, MPs pay and expenses were handed over to a newly-formed quango called the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority. IPSA was supposed to help restore trust in politics and allow complete transparency over MPs’ pay and expenses.
The problem is, like with virtually every unaccountable quango, it has ended up costing far more in administration than was ever fiddled by MPs and some of its decisions have frankly been absurd.
In the absurd category was the recommendation MPs should receive a 9.3% pay rise in 2015. This would see MPs’ salaries rise from £66,396 to £74,000. The increase is linked to cutting expenses such as meal allowances and taxis, a less generous pension scheme and slashing “golden goodbyes” for retiring MPs.
In my view, this is absurd because those expenses were unnecessary anyway and MPs’ pensions should be reformed and brought into line with other public sector workers. Why, for example, should MPs still get expenses for food?
At the time of the MP expenses scandal it was shown my predecessor, Gordon Prentice, claimed around £350 a month for food (£16,848 over four years). This was tightened up by IPSA, but MPs are still able to claim for food in certain circumstances, even though food is hardly an additional expense for an MP.
By that I mean, regardless of the job, you do still have to eat and, because of this, I have not claimed a penny for food or drink since I was elected.
During tough times MPs should be seeking to reduce the cost of politics, not increase it.
I will be voting against this pay increase and, if I am not given the opportunity to do so and it goes ahead, I will donate the increase to local charities.