Page last updated at 14:12 GMT, Tuesday, 28 April 2009 15:12 UK

MPs' pay 'should rise to 80,000'

MPs in the Commons
MPs are currently paid just under 65,000 a year

MPs' salaries should be increased to about £80,000, the former head of the body now charged with setting their wages has said.

Sir John Baker, ex-chairman of the Senior Salaries Review Board (SSRB), told BBC Radio 4's You and Yours that a £15,000 rise was not "unreasonable".

The "current sense of outrage" about MPs' expenses and pay was "really out of proportion", he added.

Gordon Brown has abandoned plans to axe the second homes allowance for MPs.

This followed opposition by the Conservatives, Lib Dems and some Labour MPs to his proposal to replace the controversial system - worth up to £24,000 a year to MPs - with flat-rate daily expenses for attending Parliament.

The SSRB - which decides salaries for leading civil servants, senior armed forces personnel and the judiciary - is now been charged with setting MPs' pay levels.

'Difficult time'

Sir John told You and Yours: "I think there are some issues to sort out in relation to MPs' expenses and pay, but I think the current sense of outrage is really out of proportion to the seriousness of the infractions, and it is not as difficult to sort this out as some people imagine."

He said: "In the long run we do need to move MP's pay forward. It's always a difficult time politically.

"But I hope that now that MPs' pay is set independently by the Senior Salaries Review Board, they will seize that nettle.

"My judgement would be that MPs are certainly not worth some of the very high sums people have speculated, but they are clearly in my view worth £15,000 - that sort of thing - off the rate for the job [as paid in other sectors]."

On this basis, Sir John said, "£80,000 would not in my view be an unreasonable figure" to pay MPs, who currently have a salary of £64,766.

He added: "Until that pay is right, it is very difficult to apply what we all want which is absolute rigour on expenses. And we do need absolute rigour.

"I am in favour of everything being receipted and I am in favour of everything being transparent and I am in favour of a much more rigorous writing and interpretation of the rules.

"But it doesn't matter how many recommendations are made. Whilst MPs themselves effectively write the rules by being able to vote on their own system, the public will not buy it."


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