Shapps in call to cut ‘total cost of politics’

CONSERVATIVE Party chairman Grant Shapps called for the “cost of politics” to be reduced yesterday amid suggestions MPs could be in line for a £7,500 pay rise.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the public would not understand MPs enjoying a significant increase when public sector pay rises are limited to one per cent. But the Conservatives left the door open for a deal which could see MPs securing higher salaries in return for sacrificing other benefits, perhaps in terms of their pension conditions or other allowances.

Mr Shapps said: “I am clear that, in times of austerity, everybody should be a part of that and I am also clear, on behalf of the Conservative Party, that in the next parliament – and these recommendations which have not even come out yet are about the next parliament in 2015 – that we would not want to see the cost of politics rise.”

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A Downing Street spokesman said that in its formal submission to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority consultation on pay, the Government had said it expected the regulator to “take the broader fiscal climate into account ... noting in particular the approach that has been taken by the Government to public sector pay and pensions”.

Asked if that meant the Prime Minister expected MPs’ pay to be limited to the same one per cent cap on public sector pay, he told reporters: “No ... his view is that it’s important that the total cost of politics be coming down.”

The spokesman was unable to say what Mr Cameron included in the “total cost of politics”.

Asked if he had defined how any pledge not to allow it to rise would be calculated, he said: “No, it’s more about the general costs in terms of how much politics and doing politics – we’re talking about pay, ministers’ pay, the number of MPs, all these kind of things – cost the taxpayer.”

Comment: Page 10.