March 10 2014 Latest news:
Annabelle Dickson, Political Editor
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
MPs from the region have pledged to shun part or all of a proposed 11% post-election pay rise in favour of charity amid a public backlash.
But some said they would accept the independently set changes, which could see their salaries rise, if they are re-elected in 2015.
The region’s MPs set out their views after senior politicians yesterday condemned the plan being drawn up by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) for a £7,600 hike in MPs’ salaries to £74,000.
Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell said he would like his small team, along with other public employees, to have a decent increase in their wages, rather than MPs.
But he said Ipsa had failed to provide a proper structure of operating costs, meaning he was subsidising his work to the tune of about £5,000 a year.
“I have not asked for a salary increase. But I would like to be able to operate without me having to use part of my salary to subsidise what I do across my 80-hour, seven-day week,” he added.
He said that if he was re-elected the money would go towards paying some of his operating costs, and he would also donate to causes chosen by him and his wife.
Waveney MP Peter Aldous said that if he was re-elected and the proposals were approved he would set up a “locality budget” – similar to those run by Suffolk county councillors.
“I’d make donations to charitable and other appropriate causes in the constituency, details of which would be available for scrutiny on my website,” he added.
But other MPs said they were awaiting full details of the plans. Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley said he suspected that the pension changes would, to an extent, offset any salary increase.
But he acknowledged a salary increase was “highly controversial” when average real take home pay has taken a hit since the 2008 crash.
Harwich MP Bernard Jenkin said that while he would not accept any substantial pay increase before 2015, he would accept whatever rate was paid for the job after the 2015 election.
But he urged Ipsa, which costs £6million a year to run, to make the expenses system simpler, whilst also retaining an independent check on claims saving money.
West Suffolk MP Matthew Hancock and Witham MP Priti Patel would not be drawn on if they would take the pay rise.
Mr Hancock said: “Since I was elected in 2010 I have said that MPs should not set their own pay and that the cost of politics should go down. Ipsa was set up in 2009 so that MPs would no longer have a say in setting their pay and pensions, so this is not a decision for MPs or the Government.”
While Ms Patel said that it was agreed before she become joined parliament that MPs would not have a say in setting pay, adding: “The Government has made it clear in the consultation about MPs’ pay that Ipsa should take into account overall public service pay and pensions restraint when addressing the issue of MPs’ pay.
“I am disappointed that Ipsa has not reflected this view while undertaking their review.”
Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey, Central Suffolk MP Dan Poulter, Ipswich MP Ben Gummer and South Suffolk MP Tim Yeo could not be reached for a comment.