Marie Antoinette syndrome or greed?

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The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) is set to announce a proposed huge increase for MPs’ salaries. This is expected to be a minimum of £10,000 a year, or just under half of the total annual average wage.

I wrote recently to my MP (Fiona O’Donnell) on this subject. I asked her to campaign against any such increase and to refuse to accept it if it were proposed.

She replied with what will be the standard cop-out when the proverbial hits the fan at the forthcoming announcement – that Ipsa is a wholly ­independent body.

However, if anyone cares to look at Ipsa’s own recent report on this issue, Reviewing MPs’ Pay and Pensions, they will see that its own 
research is extremely clear that the public absolutely does not support any increase in MPs’ remuneration.

The pressure for this comes entirely from MPs themselves.

There are 650-odd MPs at Westminster; they are paid at least £66,396 a year. Ministers are paid significantly more and there are additional payments for chairing committees and so forth.

Unlike the common throng, they are paid for travel to 
and from work, with the 
other many generous expense allowances that we have had ­revealed to us of late.

They have a pension scheme beyond the dream of the mass of their constituents – who largely fund it through their taxes. (Ipsa’s and the MPs’ sop will be that there will be an increase in MPs’ pensions contribution concurrent with the salary increase but it will still be one of the most generous schemes around.)

£10,000 a year equates to a 15 per cent increase for MPs.This for the people who are telling other workers that a 1 per cent ­increase is right – the same people who are proposing to take away pensioners’ winter fuel allowance and their bus passes.

Are they suffering from Marie Antoinette syndrome or are they just plain greedy?

Whatever the answer, it 
certainly looks like one rule for them and another for us.

I encourage everyone who feels, like me, that any increase is wholly unjustified to write to or visit their MP to make them aware of their ­opposition. Otherwise, it 
will just slide through and the taxpayer will pay the price again.

David K Allan

Mainshill

Haddington, East Lothian

At a time of savage public 
sector cuts, the idea of members of our prime public ­service scrambling for a large ­salary increase is nauseating, especially with (some of) their cheating on expenses far from forgotten.

However, the putative justification for it – to attract a “better class” of candidate – is appallingly clumsy.

This comparison can apply only to sitting MPs, or to use another analogy, the monkeys presently earning supposed peanuts. Any improved pay would then reasonably apply only to new MPs.

What would qualify applicants for inclusion in the 
“superior” category?

Eton/Oxbridge backgrounds, perhaps?

As to who would judge candidates suitable, that must ­remain in the control of local constituency parties. After all, the prime duty of any member should be promotion of the constituents’ welfare.

The distinguishing mark of democracy is that those governing do not award themselves privileges over those governed. MPs should be awarded the same rise as other public-sector workers, not a penny more.

Robert Dow

Ormiston Road

Tranent, East Lothian

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