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Published on June 8th, 2013 | by Nathan Wilson
Image © Mark Ashman. 2011


MPs Deserve a Pay Rise

Recently it has been reported that the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, which was set up in the wake of the expenses scandal, believe that MPs deserve a pay rise of at least £10,000 a year and perhaps even as much as £20,000. If these recommendations were to be implemented, they would likely spark outrage amongst the British public.

Indeed if these recommendations were to be pushed through at a time when the vast majority of Brits are struggling to cope with the rising costs of living in a struggling economy then it is likely that the anti–politics mood which haunts Britain would increase. It would also contribute to the widely held belief among ordinary Britons that MPs are only interested in looking after their own interests and do not fully understand the financial difficulties that ordinary Britons face in the current economic climate.

MPs do believe that they deserve a substantial pay increase as a survey conducted by IPSA in January will attest to as it discovered that on average, MP’s believed that they should be paid £86,000, roughly £20,000 more than what they currently earn. Some MPs even claimed that they should receive an annual salary of £100,000.

However while there are compelling arguments which oppose this sort of pay rise for MPs, it is important to look at this debate from a different perspective because while they do pocket a large salary in comparison to most people, it is also true that they do not paid enough for the amount of work that they actually do.

Indeed in June 2011, the Hansard Society, in the last major survey conducted on MP’s working conditions to date, found that your average MP works a staggering 69 hours per week. Compare this to the Office for National Statistics findings that full time workers in the UK average around 37 hours per week at work and add it to the fact that the amount of hours they have to work tends to have a detrimental impact on their personal and family lives, then it is reasonable to conclude that MP’s should receive better financial rewards than they currently do.

Another reason for raising MPs pay is that it is important that we are able to attract the best talent possible to pursue a career in Westminster as those who may otherwise be considering a career as an MP may in fact decide to pursue potentially more lucrative employment in the private sector.

Moreover, MPs have in fact been underpaid for decades and perhaps longer. This was one of the main reasons why so many of them fiddled their expenses up until 2009 as they simply felt that they were not receiving enough financial rewards so decided that they would abuse the system in order to get what they felt they deserved. From this perspective then, MPs not being paid enough led some of them to act illegally and has indirectly contributed to the crisis of public confidence in our elected representatives across the nation.

On the whole though, at a time when Britain is experiencing economic circumstances which are arguably worse than those of the great depression of the 1930’s, with unemployment currently sitting at 7.8% and with other public sector jobs such as teaching currently experiencing a pay freeze, it would be unwise and perhaps even morally wrong for politicians to consider any sort of pay rise let alone the substantial one recommended by IPSA.

Indeed it is unlikely that David Cameron would support these recommendations at the present time as they would likely lose his Conservative party votes at the next general election and have a detrimental impact on his already unpopular party from winning a majority in 2015 especially as he and the majority of his Cabinet are extremely wealthy compared to the average citizen.

To conclude then, the current economic circumstances allied to the belief that MPs do not get paid nearly enough, creates the impression that perhaps the right thing to do is, to forget about giving MP’s a pay rise until Britain is back on a sound economic footing when this issue can be legitimately rectified.

Please note that all blog posts do not represent the views of Catch21 but only of the individual writers. We also aim to be factually accurate and balanced across all content taken as a whole.

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About the Author

Nathan Wilson

Nathan is an undergraduate politics student at the University of Strathclyde. He is mainly interested in British politics but also has an interest in certain international and global issues particularly globalization.

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