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Last Updated: Friday, 18 January 2008, 17:14 GMT
MPs' pay rise 'should be staged'
Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown has set a ceiling on public sector pay rises
The government says a recommended 2.56% pay rise for MPs should be awarded in two stages - making it worth 1.9%.

Commons Leader Harriet Harman insisted that the principles of below-inflation pay rises for public sector workers "should also apply to MPs".

All three main parties are backing the lower figure amid controversy over pay for teachers and police officers.

MPs will vote on the issue on 24 January, possibly for the last time as the process is being reviewed.

Curb inflation

The independent Senior Salaries Review Body's recommendations would push an MP's salary up from 60,277 to 61,820.

There would also be an additional 650 per year "catch up" payment over the next three years.

This is to recognise that MPs have had a series of below-inflation increases since 2002.

We shouldn't be awarding ourselves a bigger pay increase than nurses and the police
Harriet Harman

And the government said MPs should see their allowances bolstered by almost 10,000 a year to employ additional staff.

Ms Harman said she wanted this to be the last time MPs had a chance to vote on their own pay rise. In future it should be left to an independent body to set salary levels, she said.

"I think for years MPs have felt uncomfortable about this. It's absolutely ridiculous. We don't like doing it. I think the public find it objectionable and I think it's time we stopped it."

She said she hoped members would accept the government's recommendations to keep their pay award below inflation.

"It is recognising that because we are paid for by the taxpayer, we shouldn't be awarding ourselves a bigger pay increase than nurses and the police."

Pensions

Ms Harman said the review body had recommended that the pay of Cabinet ministers "should go quite far ahead of MPs".

"We have disagreed with that," she said. "We have said ministers' pay should go up at the same rate as MPs' pay - we should all go up less than 2%."

The government is backing the SSRB's recommendation that future prime ministers, lord chancellors and Commons speakers should have the same pension arrangements as ministers.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Lord Chancellor Jack Straw, currently on 104,386 a year, would forgo the right to take an immediate pension of half their salaries as soon as they leave office - instead they would have to wait until the age of 65.

Mr Brown has made it clear he wants MPs to lead by example and vote for a rise below the 2% public sector pay limit, set to curb inflation.

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg said he would be supporting the 1.9% pay rise for this year, adding that in future he believed MPs' salaries should be linked to the state pension.

Under pressure

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "It would be completely inappropriate for MPs to get a 2.56% pay rise.

"In these rocky economic times we all have to tighten our belts and MPs should lead by example."

The government has been coming under increasing pressure from public sector unions over its 2% ceiling, which they say is effectively a pay cut as it is below the current 2.1% inflation rate.

The public sector workers, including police and nurses, have been angered by the government's decision not to pay in full the recommended pay rises. Paying them in two instalments makes them worth 1.9% they say.

Mr Brown says such a move is critical to keeping inflation low.

However, the government has announced that teachers will get a 2.45% increase as part of a three-year offer, sparking anger among police officers.



VOTE RESULTS
Should MPs lose their right to debate and vote on their pay?
Yes
 90.52% 
No
 7.51% 
I'm not sure
 1.97% 
5076 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

SEE ALSO
Teachers given pay rise of 2.45%
15 Jan 08 |  Education
MPs may lose right to vote on pay
10 Jan 08 |  UK Politics
Q&A: Public sector pay
08 Jan 08 |  Business
Unions warn government over pay
18 Dec 07 |  Business

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