POLITICS
12/12/2013 04:35 GMT | Updated 12/12/2013 05:16 GMT

MP Pay Needs To Go Up Or 'There Will Be Another Expenses Scandal'

MPs' pay needs to be raised or there could be a repeat of the expenses scandal, the Parliamentary watchdog has claimed.

David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband are united in condemning the controversial hike proposed by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.

Nonetheless, behind closed doors, most MPs would like a pay rise, polling has shown.

On Wednesday morning, Ipsa said salaries would go up from the current level of £66,000 to £74,000 after the general election in 2015.

Defending the proposals, Ipsa chairman Sir Ian Kennedy said it was made clear after the expenses scandal that MPs should not set their own pay.

Writing in The Times, he said: "We all know that MPs made a mess of these things for decades; the result was a disaster.

"We were given the job of tackling this issue independently for a reason. You are not independent if all you do is bend to the will of the government or the Commons."

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Claiming the proposals would solve the problem for a generation, not a "news cycle", he added: "The alternative approach takes us back to the days of political deals, with scandal never far away.

"I can’t believe anyone seriously believes that is the way forward."

On Wednesday, Cameron issued a veiled threat to abolish Ipsa if it presses ahead with the planned rise after the 2015 general election, insisting it was "simply unacceptable" that Members' salaries would increase by £7,600 to £74,000.

Miliband has called on Cameron and Clegg to accompany him to an urgent meeting with Ipsa to demand an eleventh-hour halt to the wage hike.

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Ipsa is planning a tougher-than-expected squeeze on MPs' pensions in a bid to cancel out the £4.6 million cost to the public purse. A £2.5 million saving by downgrading the final-salary scheme to career average - matching the rest of the public sector - had already been proposed alongside a crackdown on various perks.

Cameron suggested yesterday that abolition of Ipsa is on the table if it pushes ahead with the plans.

"First, the idea of an 11% pay rise in one year at a time of pay restraint is simply unacceptable," he told MPs.

"Secondly, Ipsa do need to think again and, unless they do so, I don't think anyone will want to rule anything out. No-one wants to go back to MPs voting on their own pay but we have got to have a process and an outcome that can build public confidence.

"Third, in my view, I think this should all be accompanied with a cut in the cost of politics."