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  • "This is a regrettable example of the headlines driving the story - although it is difficult to point the finger of blame at MPs for being in trepidation of their constituents' likely reaction at such headlines.

    However (and as Margot James has hinted), look behind those headlines and the story is rather different: namely, that in return for that one-off increase in salary to £74,000 per annum, the package proposed by IPSA will include a raft of reforms to other aspects of MPs' remuneration that will actually make the deal cost-neutral to taxpayers. For example:-

    ** MPs’ pay will henceforth track average earnings - finally taking the decision about any future increases out of their hands.

    ** Their current final salary pension scheme will be scrapped and replaced with one based on career average earnings - as now happens in other parts of the public sector. MPs’ individual contributions to their pensions will also rise.

    ** Their current generous resettlement (redundancy) payments will be replaced with a more modest 'loss-of-office payment’. Furthermore, this will only be received by an MP if he or she contests and then loses their seat at a general election, and not by those MPs who choose of their own volition to stand down.

    ** There will be no more free refreshments at Westminster; nor evening meals when Parliament is sitting late. In addition, MPs can only claim for taxis when the Commons rises after 11pm, and for hotel accomodation only if the Commons rises after 1am.

    So, in effect, MPs will not so much be getting a whopping pay rise as instead surrendering a whopping chunk of their current expenses regime. Indeed, had the Lib Dem members of the Coalition Government not torpedoed the Conservative Party's proposed reduction in the number of MPs to 600 then even further savings to the cost of our parliamentary representation could have been achieved. Then the cost of government really would have come down.

    Be that as it may, even so - as the Chairman of IPSA, Ian Kennedy, has put it - "we have designed these reforms so they do not cost the taxpayer a penny more. When taken with the tens of millions we have saved by reforming the business cost and expenses regime, we have saved the taxpayer over £35 million with the changes we have introduced since 2010".

    There is never going to be a good time to increase the pay of politicians (and these proposals, even if accepted, won't kick in until after the next general election anyway). However, I would urge those who might feel tempted to criticise these proposals to be in possession of the full facts first before merrily jumping aboard the predictable circus of self-righteous breast-beating that has accompanied their publication"
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MP brands pay rise "bonkers" and says he'll give extra cash to charity

Halesowen News: Ian Austin MP Ian Austin MP

A BLACK Country MP has branded plans to hike up MPs’ pay as “completely bonkers” and has pledged to donate any extra cash he receives to good causes in Dudley.

Dudley North MP Ian Austin spoke out against the proposal by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) to increase pay packets for politicians by 11 per cent – and promised, if the rise goes ahead, to give the money to needy borough organisations.

He said: “I think this increase is completely bonkers and I won’t be accepting it.

“I’m from Dudley and being the town’s MP is a huge privilege. It’s a well-paid job, but I earned more before I was an MP so I’m not in it for the money.

“Times are tough for people in Dudley and when so many local families are struggling with the cost of living and others are subject to pay restraint, I’ll use it to increase my support for good causes and organisations in Dudley.”

Mr Austin says members of independent body IPSA need to” come to their senses” – a sentiment echoed by Halesowen and Rowley Regis MP James Morris who said on Twitter that he believes “IPSA is wrong to put forward this pay increase” and that if re-elected in 2015 he will “not accept an 11 per cent rise”.

Stourbridge MP Margot James says she does intend to take a pay rise but “commensurate with the rest of the public sector at the time” and she added: “I think the pay rise proposed is excessive, so personally will only take part of it that is consistent with the rest of the public sector.

“However it is important to point out that the proposals also increase pension contributions and reduce severance pay, so it’s not all one way.”

Dudley South Chris Kelly refused to confirm or deny whether he would take any proposed payrise - simply referring the News to an email sent by the Government Chief Whip saying IPSA's recommendation was not final and would be reviewed after the election and that the Government would continue to stress "the cost of politics should go down and not up".

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