Burnham blasts MP pay rise plan

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WIGAN’S MPs have given their backing to a new consultation on parliamentarians’ pay, although suggestions that MPs could see their salaries rise significantly has drawn criticism from a member of the Shadow Cabinet.

Leigh MP Andy Burnham said it would be wrong for MPs to be offered substantially more lavish salaries for their work as it would damage relations between the public and their political representatives, which he said was being slowly rebuilt following investigations into MPs’ expenses three years ago.

The amount of money paid each year to those who sit in the House of Commons is currently the subject of a consultation by independent parliamentary expenses watchdog IPSA, which was set up following the expenses scandal.

Although IPSA has already rejected proposals to link MPs’ salaries to those of other senior public servants, such as GPs, headteachers and police chiefs, the consultation has suggested pay could be linked to the average wage, which may see annual salaries rise to £69,000 or even as high as £92,000.

The current basic salary for an MP stands at £65,738 a year, which rises to £107,108 for ministers and £145,492 for members of the cabinet due to their added responsibilities.

While Wigan’s MPs backed the decision to end Parliament’s self-regulation of salaries and said they would abide by whatever decisions on pay which IPSA came to, Mr Burnham strongly criticised the idea that the basic parliament salary should rise.

Mr Burnham said: “I don’t support it. It would send out the wrong message that politics is a money chasing game and it would damage some of the trust we’ve hopefully begun to win back following the trials and tribulations of recent years.”

An IPSA consultation paper also suggests MPs could give up their gold-plated pensions, which includes resettlement grants in the event of losing an election and a final salary pension scheme, and receive less on leaving parliament in exchange for higher pay.

IPSA chair Sir Ian Kennedy said the authority would consult as widely as possible to ensure a broad range of opinions on the subject of MPs’ pay was heard,

MP for Wigan Lisa Nandy and Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue both said they would await the outcome of the IPSA consultation and encouraged people to get involved in the debate.

Ms Nandy said: “I am pleased that MPs’ pay is now considered independently of Parliament and look forward to the outcome of the consultation.”

Ms Fovargue said: “It is absolutely right that MPs should no longer be able to set their own pay and pension arrangements and I would encourage people to read the document published by IPSA and participate in the consultation process.”