Under current arrangements overseen by the Independent Standards Parliamentary Authority, October’s three-month rolling average of public sector wage growth will be the benchmark used to set next April’s award – and this stood at 4.1 per cent last month.
This would entitle MPs to an extra £3,300 a year, taking their salaries to £85,000-plus, and Sir Keir’s argument is that this money should be spent on key workers at a time of economic crisis and mounting unemployment.
But while such intentions are honourable, especially if advocates of pay restraint are individuals of financial means, it’s not so simple.
The reason is that MPs have been historically underpaid for their hours of work, and their level of responsibility, and that the Commons chamber is no longer filled with so-called ‘landed gentry’ or wealthy who viewed politics as a hobby in historic times. Parliament has never been more representative of society – and a great many MPs, on all sides, are from modest backgrounds who can’t afford to subsidise their duties (the expenses claimed by most barely cover office costs).
And while they will probably accept that they, too, need to share the nation’s pain, there’s a case for leaving the question of pay to the consciences and circumstances of MPs – they can then their justify their stance to their voters.
Where there should be reform, however, is those loopholes which enable some to pursue outside business interests when being a MP should be an honour. And full-time job.
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