MP pay-hike plans ‘puzzling’, says Emma

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NEW South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck has spoken out against plans to hand Members of Parliament a large pay hike.

She has described plans for an £8,000 increase to her salary as “puzzling”, but made no comment on whether she would accept or reject the increase.

Mrs Lewell-Buck says she believes it is the wrong move at a time when so many workers are struggling to survive in the midst of pay freezes and below inflation wage increases.

Meanwhile, her party leader Ed Miliband has entered the salary debate.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) is recommending an average MP’s salary should rise from the current £66,396 to about £75,000 a year from 2015.

Mr Miliband has made it clear that MPs will have to put up with a much-less substantial £660 increase if he wins power at the General Election year.

Mrs Lewell-Buck was only elected to Parliament in May after she won the town’s by-election.

The former social worker and South Tyneside councillor has expressed unease at the push for more pay coming from the IPSA, which says the increase is needed to attract better quality lawmakers.

She said: “MPs are public servants and our pay needs to reflect what is happening in the rest of the public sector and the wider economy.

“IPSA’s proposals have now gone out for consultation. This is a puzzling move at a time when people are struggling to push ahead with a consultation that will no doubt be costly and the outcome obvious.”

Mr Miliband says MPs will have to accept a one per cent wage rise, like all other public sector workers, and not the 15 per cent award they are thought to be in line for.

Sir Ian Kennedy, head of the IPSA, which is in charge of politicians’ pay packets, was due to explain the controversial pay hike today in a debate organised by the Left-wing IPPR think tank.

Well-placed sources say Sir Ian believes MPs need a bigger rise of £20,000, taking their salary to about £85,000, to catch up with similar London professionals, but accepts that would cause public uproar.

“Instead, Labour and Tory sources say he will suggest raising MPs’ pay to £75,000 a year, in a series of upratings starting in 2015, coupled with much higher pension contributions.”

Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn was unavailable for comment.