Page last updated at 18:47 GMT, Tuesday, 3 June 2008 19:47 UK

Bid to link MPs' pay to EU powers

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Peter Lilley doubts his MPs' (Pay and Responsibilities) Bill will become law

The more powers the House of Commons transfers to the European Union the less MPs should be paid, former minister Peter Lilley has said.

He told MPs he hoped a Bill to link their pay to responsibilities would serve as a "wake up call" against passing any more powers to Europe.

Otherwise Parliament risks "sleep walking into becoming little more than a provincial assembly", he said.

But Labour's Hugh Bayley dismissed the plan as a "nonsensical proposal".

Mr Lilley, a Conservative former social security secretary, said he believed "pay should reflect responsibility".

Unlikely to become law

"If people receive more responsibility, they get higher pay - the same should be true of Parliament," he said.

If more powers are transferred to Europe under the EU (Amendment) Bill - that will ratify the Lisbon Treaty - the MPs' "remuneration should be reflected", he said.

I don't have a masochistic desire to see MPs' pay cut, but still less do I want to see our powers diminished
Peter Lilley
Conservative MP

While he conceded his Members of Parliament (Pay and Responsibilities) Bill is unlikely to become law, Mr Lilley said the proposal was designed to focus the mind.

He argued that the scale of European legislation is "enormous" with the EU passing 177 directives last year.

The German government admitted that more than 80% of its laws were decided at a European level, he said.

Wake-up call

Even controversial laws, like the introduction of home information packs, that added "to the woes of the housing market" were mandated by Brussels directive, he said.

"I don't have a masochistic desire to see MPs' pay cut, but still less do I want to see our powers diminished, and the best way to prevent the latter may be to link pay to responsibilities," he said.

The public want to see greater information about MPs' pay and allowances and they will not get this information if our pay is tied into and buried under bureaucracy in Europe
Hugh Bayley
Labour MP

"I don't actually know any MP who entered Parliament to become financially better off.

"Nonetheless, as the prospect of being hung in the morning concentrates the mind wonderfully, so the prospect of finding our pockets a bit emptier at the end of the month and having to justify that to our spouses, may wake up those who have shut their eyes to what's happening.

"If we don't face up to what is happening, we will find we are progressively relegated to what Bagehot called 'the dignified part of the constitution'.

"My Bill is designed to provide a wake up call whenever we risk going further down that route."

However, Mr Bayley - who described himself as a "Euro enthusiast" - accused Mr Lilley of simply "making a political point about Europe".

"If you are arguing that there is a serious transfer of financial responsibility from this House to Europe, it is just not based on fact," he said.

"The public want to see greater information about MPs' pay and allowances and they will not get this information if our pay is tied into and buried under bureaucracy in Europe."


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