POLITICS
11/07/2013 11:20 BST | Updated 11/07/2013 11:21 BST

MPs' Pay Rise 'Should Fund Extra Staff For Opposition Backbenchers'

A general view during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London.
PA
A general view during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London.

The money earmarked to be given as a pay rise to politicians should instead be used to hire new research staff for backbench MPs, a leading think-tank has said.

On Thursday morning the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) proposed that MPs see their pay increase from £66,396 to £74,000 in May 2015.

The proposal has promoted a fierce backlash from the public and trades unions given the squeeze on other areas of public sector pay.

The Electoral Reform Society has suggested that instead Ipsa should use the money to hire 152 full-time researchers with office space in Westminster.

Katie Ghose, chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said: "MPs don’t need more spending money. What they need is more resources to be able to do their job properly. A £6,000 pay rise will not help MPs hold the executive to account or represent their constituents in Westminster.

"If we’re going to spend nearly £4m on MPs, we should spend it more wisely. A dedicated service of over 150 research staff would give backbenchers real teeth.

"While the government is able to call on the expertise and vast experience of the civil service, MPs have much fewer resources. A new research service dedicated exclusively to backbench MPs would make a huge difference to the quality of work MPs would be able to do.

"The fuss over MPs’ pay is a sideshow. It’s time we talked about giving our MPs the support they need to represent us effectively in Westminster."

However Ipsa has rejected the suggestion. A spokesman for the regulator said the issue of staffing had already been dealt with.

"We conducted a fundamental review of MPs’ staffing last year and, following that, increased the money available for staff by up to 25%," the spokesman said.

"Now Parliament has asked us to deal with the thorny issue in MPs’ pay and benefits - something which has been argued about for centuries and on which reforms have been ducked for decades. The answer to this problem can’t be to ignore it once again.

"Instead we’re recommending reforms to MPs’ pay and benefits – scrapping golden goodbyes, overhauling their unsustainable pensions and further tightening some of the expenses. And, yes, a pay rise of around £6,000.

"The changes to costs and expenses and pay and pensions would deliver savings of £7m in 2015. This is a good deal for the taxpayer."