MPs’ pay and the cost of politics
Asked whether the Prime Minister would turn down a pay rise, the PMS said that the Prime Minister’s view is clear: the overall cost of politics must come down and the government made its submission to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa), saying that we would expect them to take the fiscal situation into account and note the government’s action on public sector pay and pensions. The PMS explained that the report is an independent report and has not yet been published.
Pushed on whether the Prime Minister would accept a rise if the overall cost of politics came down, the PMS said that the point is clear that we expect Ipsa to take what the government has already done to public sector pay and pensions into account.
Asked why the Prime Minister has tried to reduce the numbers of MPs but not ministers, the PMS said that the number of paid ministers is fixed in law. He added that one of the first things the Prime Minister did was reduce ministers’ salaries by 5 per cent. Subsequent changes have been made so that ministers contribute more to their pensions.
Asked what counts as the “costs of politics”, the PMS explained that this is the general costs of politics and doing politics, such as pay, pensions and the number of ministers. The PMS added that the point is to make sure that at a time of fiscal restraint, belt-tightening must also be reflected in Westminster.
Asked whether spending £100,000 to renovate two loos in the House of Lords is sensible when trying to reduce the cost of politics, the PMS said that it’s important to show restraint and the House authorities would be able to go through those costs.
Pressed on why the Prime Minister has not done more recently to reduce the cost of politics, the PMS said that the Prime Minister has cut salaries and taken action throughout the course of the Parliament to reduce costs. The PMS also pointed to the Efficiency and Reform Group in the Cabinet Office, which has recently announced a further £5 billion in savings from reducing the cost of running Whitehall.