BBC Question Time Audience Member Confronts MPs Over Their Pay Rise Amid NHS Strikes

Wes Streeting admitted it's "uncomfortable" to discuss their own inflated pay.
Wes Streeting offered an "uncomfortable" answer when pressed over MPs' pay and how it's increased over the years
Wes Streeting offered an "uncomfortable" answer when pressed over MPs' pay and how it's increased over the years
BBC Question TIme

A member of the BBC Question Time audience left MPs squirming on the panel last night after asking them how their own pay has risen, while NHS workers continue to strike over their salaries.

The British Medical Association claims junior doctors are currently paid £14 an hour, although fact-checking website FullFact has concluded: “The figure of £14.09 represents the hourly basic pay for the lowest-ranked doctors, who make up about 11% of junior doctors in general.”

Close to 47,000 junior doctors went on a 96-hour strikes last weekend, calling for their wages to rise to £19 an hour to keep up with current inflation rates.

Meanwhile the Royal College of Nursing recently rejected the 5% pay rise for staff in England, explaining that it was “simply not enough” – they’ll be taking part in a 48-hour strike at the end of April.

On BBC Question Time, an audience member noted how doctors have faced a real-term pay cut in recent years.

She asked MPs: “May I just ask you, in numbers not percent, how much have you seen your pay rise in the same amount of time?”

The audience broke out into applause at her question.

Jeremy Quin, a Conservative MP, just pushed the query over to his Labour colleague, by saying: “It would be the same as Wes’s, I don’t know what the answer is.”

Host Fiona Bruce asked: “You don’t know how big your pay rise is?”

Wes Streeting, Labour’s shadow health secretary, responded: “Well, the honest answer is – and it’s an uncomfortable answer, given the way you’ve couched it – when I was elected in 2018, coming up to eight years ago, I think the pay was something just above £65,000 a year.

“Now our pay is over £82,000 a year. And so, MPs have had pay go up and the argument was – and it’s not set by us by the way, we wouldn’t be daft enough to vote through that sort of pay rise, it’s done independently – the argument was, that MPs’ pay hadn’t kept up with inflation.”

The Tory government has regularly refused to engage with public sector pay talks by claiming that any hikes would contribute to inflation.

The basic pay of an MP is currently £86,584, a rate which is set by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority – back in April 2010, it was £65,738.

The basic pay is also increased according to any additional ministerial roles an MP takes on.

Streeting then said he wished the ongoing debate about nurses and doctors’ pay would realise that this was not just about covering the soaring cost of living, but about retaining the workers we have.

“Nurses are leaving the NHS, junior doctors are looking to go overseas – Australia and countries like that – they’re pulling them in,” the MP said.

“So there’s national self-interest here, as well as doing the right thing by a bunch of people who have always done the right thing by us.”

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