Norfolk MPs hit out at salary hike proposals

MP Henry Bellingham talks to students at Springwood High School, during a tour of the school. Pictur

MP Henry Bellingham talks to students at Springwood High School, during a tour of the school. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

MPs in the region have hit out at proposals for a hefty hike in their salaries admitting it would be inappropriate at a time of pay restraint elsewhere.

In the wake of reports that the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) is considering setting a pay rise of around £7,500, taking an MP's salary to £75,000, North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham said such a move would be 'inflammatory'.

He said: 'I think it has to be said that at the moment the public would not find it acceptable because you have pay restraint in the public sector and a lot of people in the private sector who have had not pay increase at all.

'I feel strongly that MPs need to secure the goodwill of the public and the wider support of the public and we are also in the process of rebuilding trust with the public after the expenses problems.'

According to weekend newspaper reports, sources have indicated the regulator would suggest raising MPs' pay to £75,000 a year, in a series of upratings starting in 2015, coupled with much higher pension contributions.

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Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis said it was 'unbelievable' to be talking about it at the moment . 'We just cannot do it at this point in time,' he added.

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb said it was 'unimaginable' that MPs could justify having a whopping great pay increase at the same time others are suffering cut backs in their standard of living.

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Norwich South MP Simon Wright agreed that it would be 'wholly inappropriate' to talk about MPs pay increasing by a significant amount at a time of public and private sector pay restraint.

Broadland MP Keith Simpson said the headline figures looked bad at a time of restrictions and MPs should think 'very carefully'.

'It may be different in a couple of years if the economy picks up. There is an argument which could be put to the public about pay and pensions and conditions of MPs which they would not automatically dismiss, but now is not the time.'

George Freeman, Mid-Norfolk MP, said: 'Like so much of what goes on in and around the Palace of Westminster, the whole system for working out remuneration is out of date and not fit for purpose. The whole structure – Lords and Commons and the administration of the Palace - needs wholesale review. We should be pro-actively putting our own house in order just as we expect the rest of the country to be doing. Remuneration should come at the end – when we have set out clearly what sort of people we want to be governing us, and what is a fair and reasonable amount to recruit and retain the best people for the job. The core principle should be that being an MP should be an honour, not driven by pecuniary interest, with pay set at a level that reflects the calibre and status that the electorate want the role to reflect, on a par with other roles of comparable responsibility in the public sector.'

He added: 'MPs should have nothing to do with the decision which should be made by an independent pay review board in the context of wider public sector pay.'

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