MPs ‘should lose right to set own pay’

Opposition leaders today supported moves to end the “unseemly practice” of MPs voting for their own pay rises.

David Cameron voiced support for proposals from his party’s democracy task force to link MPs’ pay to a fixed benchmark, taking away their discretion over salary increases.

Mr Cameron told reporters parliament needed to “get away” from MPs voting for their own pay deals, adding it was “completely wrong” for MPs to vote themselves an above-inflation rise while withholding them from teachers and nurses.

The government currently faces a backbench rebellion over its attempts to force MPs to accept a 1.9 per cent pay rise, putting them on a par with public sector workers such as police and prison officers.

The senior salaries review body is thought to have recommended a 2.8 per cent rise but Gordon Brown wants MPs to show restraint as the government faces down opposition to public sector pay awards.

Mr Cameron and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg have said they will encourage their own teams to vote with the government but have criticised the entire practice.

Last week Harriet Harman, leader of the House of Commons, told MPs this coming vote could be the last time they are asked to decide their own pay packages.

Mr Clegg today wrote to the prime minister arguing MPs pay should be linked to the state pension.

Arguing this would end the “unseemly practice” of MPs voting on their own packages, Mr Clegg said: “Those receiving a state pension have contributed to society throughout their whole lives and whatever rise is deemed acceptable for them should therefore be acceptable to MPs too.”

Amid pay disputes and funding scandals, the Conservatives today published their recommendations for restoring trust in politics.

The Democracy Taskforce, chaired by Kenneth Clarke MP, recommends the prime minister loses the power to award honours, that tighter controls are imposed on what ministers can do after leaving office and that the communications allowance is abolished.

Mr Cameron also said he was “very attracted” to the taskforce’s recommendation that MPs’ final salary pension scheme close to new entrants.

The scheme must close if MPs want to “look other state sector public sector employees in the eye,” he told reporters.