Best Reponses to MP Pay Rise Consultation

Sitting somewhere in an office on Millbank, an IPSA employee sifts through the hundreds of responses to their consultation on MPs’ pay while trying to justify giving them an extra 10%. Here are some of the Great British public’s more forthright contributions.

D.W. Jukes speaks for a nation:

“Obviously shut up in your little Westminster bubble, you have not noticed that the rating of MPs among the electorate is at an all time low. People feel that MPs are totally out of touch with voters, and your decision to review their pay now only confirms it.”

While John F Roga is a fan of caps lock:

“THE DICTIONARY DEFINES WATCHDOG AS ONE THAT CLOSELY OBSERVES GOVERNMENTS AND ORGANISATIONS. A POODLE IS DEFINED AS AN ‘ASSIDUOUS FOLLOWER’. I KNOW WHICH CATEGORY THE PUBLIC WOULD PLACE YOU IN”

Though he’s not as angry as this anonymous writer:

“The watchdog whoever he is is he an IDIOT or what saying the MPs should get 90k a year they DON’T DESERVE 50k a year or there CARS & EXPENSES should be STOPPED until the economy is a lot better.”

Captain Bryn Wayt is getting religious on them (his use of bold):

“I submit this document as a private individual and Christian taxpayer. I furnish my thoughts on the proven fact that the majority of MP’s were fiddling their “expenses” and robbing the public purse before the Telegraph blew their game apart in 2009. Somehow, most of them escaped jail by the skin of their teeth. Such despicable and dishonest behaviour will not be tolerated ever again.”

Mr JR McAvoy makes a not unreasonable point:

“Under no circumstances should you even consider raising their generous salary’s. There would be a national outcry against if you did”

Made slightly more forcefully by F. Biard:

“WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER EVERYONE GETS THE SAME DEAL ITS A SCANDAL”

This anonymous contributor used a powerful sign-off:

“It is immoral for an MP to draw a full salary and hardly ever appear in the house. The excuse of doing constituency work does not wash. Gordon Brown, Chris Huhne, David Miliband, Liam Fox, George Galloway just some names to consider. Yet another disillusioned citizen of what was once Great Britain.”

While John Bell gave greedy MPs a choice:

“MP’s have the same option as every one else if they are unhappy. They can resign and get another job more to their liking and they should be reminded they have this option.”

Best of the bunch? Here is Robert Nielson Donald:

“sir i put it to you they do not need a pay rise they first need to stop double dealing with renting their house to a fellow member then claim expences on another house it is day light robbery, i would love to tell them face to face exactly how the public feel about this. any increase in their salary when the nation is facing price rises in fuel and many being laid off would be a kick in the teeth for the rest of the nation whilst these parasites want more, in closing can i wish you all a merry christmas and a happy new year”

Well said, Robert. Well said.

Rent Your Flat To an MP, If You Dare

Nice to see the mansions of SW1 getting a look in – this letter has been posted to flat owners near Westminster – but surely this has to be the biggest fib of the election? MPs will be “good quality, respectable tenants”:

Dolphin Square landlords need not apply…

MPs Moan as IPSA Boss Wants Second Term

Sir Ian Kennedy, Chairman of their expenses watchdog IPSA, will be seeking another term as chief defender against the piggy-fiddlers, Despite being widely disliked by both MPs and officials, Sir Ian has told friends he has ‘thrown his hat in again’ despite some confusion about whether he’s even allowed to serve a second term in the £100,000 job.

Well at least MPs of all colours will have something to grumble about for the summer.

IPSA’s False Deal

IPSA have confirmed their recommendation to whack up MPs’ pay to £74,000. Their reforms in full:

  • A one-off uplift in salary to £74,000 in 2015, an increase of 9.26%, to address the historic shortfall. Thereafter, MPs’ pay will be linked to average earnings – if they go up, so will MPs’. If they don’t, neither will MPs’.
  • A new pension on a par with those in other parts of the public service, saving the taxpayer millions. Following public consultation on our proposals from earlier this year, we have decided to increase MPs’ pension contributions further, reducing the cost to the taxpayer even further.
  • Scrapping out-of-touch “resettlement payments” worth tens of thousands of pound per MP. These will be replaced with more modest loss-of-office payments, which will be available only to those who contest their seat and lose.
  • A tighter regime of business costs and expenses, including ending the provision for evening meals.

IPSA seem to be taking the approach that they have to come to some sort of deal with MPs; that if MPs agree not to fiddle their expenses, sign up to a more reasonable expenses regime, increase their contribution towards their gold-plated pensions and give up their resettlement payments, then they can have a pay rise. This is a false offer. There is absolutely nothing to stop IPSA toughening up on expenses and pensions and ditching the resettlement grant with no pay rise sweetener attached. The only ‘deal’ on the table should be that all these things happen without the condition of a pay rise…

IPSA’s Imaginary Pay Problem


Writing in The Times this morning, IPSA’s Sir Ian Kennedy is adamant

ipsaWe will announce a one-off pay rise. Thereafter MPs’ pay will move with the pay of the rest of us. That’s a sensible way forward, which we will implement after a further review of conditions in 2015.

I know there is a tension between the reasoning and the politics but we were asked to fix the problem for a generation, not for a news cycle. That is what we have done. The alternative approach takes us back to the days of political deals, with scandal never far away. I can’t believe anyone seriously believes that is the way forward.

Of all the problems in politics, the problem of underpaid MPs is not one that Guido or the voters have noticed. MPs are paid a handsome £66,396, plus another £14,728 if they chair one of the 39 select committees. If they make it to Cabinet, the pay goes up to £134,565 — more than doubling their salary. They are paid a basic salary that puts them in the top income decile. For this, as Gordon Brown shows, they have to do nothing. They also get another £20,100 towards accommodation expenses. Hundreds of them are paid more as ministers or for having extra responsibilities – chairing committees. The average MP costs taxpayers over £100,000 in pay and personal expenses.

It is little acknowledged by IPSA that since 2000 MPs’ earnings have outstripped the consumer price index and since the 1980s their earnings have risen from double the average to the triple figure that they enjoy today. Although politicians are professionally skilled in advancing an argument, they will find it impossible to convince the public that they have gone from being worth twice the average wage to being three times as much. There is no lack of applicants for MPs’ jobs. There is no pay problem.

IPSA-daisy

Bernard Jenkin, chairman of the Public Administration committee, said of the re-renting scandal:

“There must be no impression that parliamentary expenses are being used as back door funding for political parties.” 

Kicked into action, last week IPSA published a list of MPs that rent off their parties or unions. 

When IPSA was set up former Labour MP Tony Wright was appointed as the only politician to its board, on account of his seemingly clean expenses. So awkward then that Wright spent the better part of two decades renting an office in “Jennie Lee House” in his constituency. The clue is in the name – Lee was the widow of Nye Bevan and the building is owned by Labour. Always good to have an expert nearby! 

Exclusive: IPSA Makes Thousands of False Tax Declarations

The pen-pushers at IPSA are meant to restore confidence in the expenses system and avoid the pitfalls of paperwork cock-ups, deliberate or not, that have blighted Parliament for so long. Red faces all round then as it seems thousands of MPs staff will get a bit of a shock when they open their annual P60 certificate.

When IPSA was founded, they  hammered home the fact that Members would remain the legal employer of their staff. Their contracts make this very clear:

Staff pay-slips back this up. However, the P60 end of year tax certificates, sent to every staffer, state that the employer is “IPSA 7th floor, Portland House, Bressenden Place, London, SW1E 5BH”:

Simply not the case.

A P60 is proof that tax has been paid and the details are meant to be watertight. Guido understands this is what is known technically as “a massive cock-up” rather than a deliberate shift in the employment rules. IPSA have made clear they will replace the P60 with a correct one if staff complain, but it seems they weren’t going to announce the blunder publicly. MPs will be chortling into their subsidised pints that IPSA has messed up their own paperwork. The fact that IPSA can’t get something as basic  as Parliament’s P60’s right, doesn’t bode well for the rest of their duties…

How Do You Solve a Problem Like IPSA?

Before Parliament has even resumed for the year, the battle between IPSA and the MPs has flared up again, with the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority attempting to use the public as a human shield against aggrieved members. IPSA clearly isn’t working, but the MPs prove time and again that they cannot be trusted to be their own expenses regulator. This morning IPSA have opened up a public consultation for six weeks on how to fix the problems. The PM has warned they have until April to sort it out…

Guido has said it before, and will submit the idea formally, that a House of Commons debit card is the best way to regulate legitimate expenses. The transactions would as normal be electronically recorded automatically and could thus be published online automatically, the spending limits would be automatic and bureaucracy would be minimal. The idea was proposed in Disinfecting Parliament, a 2009 report from the Sunlight Centre that recommended a number of measures based on best practice in the private sector that could easily be transferred to IPSA. MPs have called for a fairer and simpler system, what could be easier than the debit card plan?

+++ Auditor General Refuses to Sign Off MPs Expenses +++

The £800,000 worth of non-existant receipts between 2009/10 was, unsurprisingly, a bit of an issue. And that was before the £1.8 million claimed by MPs on trial or under investigation by the Police was taken out of consideration…

Developing…

UPDATE: […]

+ READ MORE +

IPSA-Daisy III

The MPs got to have a good moan about IPSA, some of it justified, a lot of it hot air, in the House yesterday. Amongst the rants and rages was one snippet that stood out from Labour’s Ann Clewyd. She […]

+ READ MORE +

First Piggy on Trial as IPSA Blows More Cash

As Elliot Morley’s trial gets underway today, the MPs’ expenses bee will simply not leave the Westminster bonnet. ePolitix reports that IPSA are going to spend a million pounds releasing the MPs expense claims data, though there is some confusion […]

+ READ MORE +

IPSA-a-Daisy II

Last month they were accidentally paying people when they shouldn’t and now today, payday, it’s the turn of the bag-carriers and researchers to rage at IPSA. Scores of Parliamentary staff have been underpaid this month, with errors ranging from £20 […]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Former Miliband guru Arnie Graf reveals Labour’s disconnect with the working class:

“On one of my trips to the U.K. in the autumn of 2013, I bumped into one of Ed’s strategists in Portcullis House. He asked me if I was assisting the staff on Ed’s trip that was to take place in a few days to one of the regions. I told him that I did not have knowledge of his planned trip.

He told me that Ed was going to give a talk at the region’s annual fund raising dinner and that prior to the dinner he had invited the media to join him at a local coffee shop to listen to a conversation he planned to have with a minimum wage worker. The point of the conversation was to show how difficult it was for a minimum wage worker to get on in life.

There was only one problem. No one had been able to locate a minimum wage worker for Ed to talk with.”

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