BOTH St Helens MPs have backed an independent approach to decided whether they should receive a pay increase.
Dave Watts reckons that, regardless of whether MPs’ pay packets go up or down, the important thing is that they are now being set independently of the House of Commons.
In the past, MPs set their own salaries.
Neighbour Leigh MP Andy Burnham believes members of parliament shouldn’t even consider a pay rise during the current economic crisis.
The MP for St Helens North said: “MPs haven’t had a pay rise for four years and that can’t go on indefinitely. But we’ve now got an independent body consulting on what level our pay should be. I’m quite happy to abide by whatever conclusion they eventually reach.
“This is not going to be a fast process though. The changes will probably only come into effect after the next general election.
“The big question is what level of profession we will end up grouped with. I welcome the idea of setting it at a certain level and that’s the end of it so we’re not having a bun-fight about it every couple of years.” The parliamentary expenses watchdog IPSA is currently consulting on MPs’ salaries, which stand at a basic £65,738 a year.
IPSA – which was launched in the wake of the expenses scandal – has already rejected the idea of linking MPs’ pay to that of senior public servants such as GPs, headteachers or police chiefs.
Shaun Woodward, the MP for St Helens South and Whiston, backed his Labour colleague’s stance, adding: “This must be a matter for IPSA. Rightly MPs decided to give responsibility for determining all these matters to an independent body.
“Frankly IPSA should not be asking MPs for their views and MPs should be careful - even though invited - of undermining the responsibility of ‘independence’ of IPSA by responding !
“IPSA either is independent or it is not. IPSA can’t have it both ways. And MPs must also stop trying to have it both ways.
“MPs should now be quiet and let the body they tasked to determine all these matters now reach its own independent conclusions. Then MPs should live with those conclusions.”