UK watchdog proposes parliamentary pay raise

AP News
Posted: Jul 11, 2013 10:16 AM
UK watchdog proposes parliamentary pay raise

LONDON (AP) — An independent watchdog has proposed an 11 percent pay raise for British members of parliament despite a cap on public sector salaries.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority announced recommendations Thursday to increase MPs' annual salaries to around 74,000 pounds ($112,000) by 2015 while reducing pensions and additional expenses.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told a London radio station it was "about the worst time to advocate a double-digit pay increase for MPs."

IPSA chairman Ian Kennedy last week warned that avoiding an increase in salaries could lead to an expenses scandal similar in scale to the one that erupted in 2009 during the previous parliamentary term.

That emerged after freedom of information requests revealed that some members of parliament had abused their expense accounts by purchasing items like model duck houses and pornographic movies. The scandal led to a series of resignations and some prosecutions.

Britain's Crown Prosecution Service said Thursday former MP Denis MacShane is to be charged with false accounting over parliamentary expenses claims.

Kennedy said IPSA's proposals, which cannot be blocked by government, would end the era of MPs effectively setting their own salaries and bring their remuneration in line with private sector pay.

Any sizable raise would contrast with what employees in the public sector, such as doctors and teachers, have been handed in recent years as part of the government's austerity measures — pay freezes have been commonplace.

British public sector workers were told in 2012 they would receive only a 1 percent annual pay rise cap until the 2015-16 financial year.

Labour party leader Ed Miliband said Thursday he was against the pay rise particularly when "nurses and teachers are facing either pay freezes or very low increases."

Public and Commercial Services Union general secretary Mark Serwotka said public servants would be rightly outraged if MPs accept a "hypocritical" pay increase.

British lawmakers currently receive 66,000 pounds ($99,000) a year, less than their compatriots in Japan, Australia and the U.S. but more than lawmakers in Spain and France.

Kennedy said Thursday he would spend the next two months consulting with the public on the IPSA proposals.