MSPs set to reject pay rise

Alex Salmond. Picture:Greg Macvean
Alex Salmond. Picture:Greg Macvean
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HOLYROOD politicians are almost certain to reject a controversial 11.5 per cent pay increase even if their Westminster colleagues take the rise.

First Minister Alex Salmond said it was “ludicrous” that parliamentarians’ pay should rise by more than other people in the public sector.

The independent body set up to determine MPs’ salaries – in an attempt to avoid the embarrassment of politicians voting on their own pay – yesterday recommended they should rise by £7604 to £74,000 from 2015.

But the three major party leaders at Westminster have already condemned the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) proposal. Labour’s Ed Miliband and Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg pledged to shun the extra money – although David Cameron stopped short of saying the same.

MSPs’ pay, currently £58,097, is set at 87.5 per cent of the salary paid to MPs and would normally go up automatically in line with any rise at Westminster.

But the cross-party Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB), which oversees MSPs’ pay and conditions, signalled it would intervene to stop such a massive increase.

A parliament spokeswoman said: “This IPSA consultation exercise on Westminster MPs pay will run until October.

“When IPSA makes its final recommendations, then it will be a matter for the SPCB to consider and consult with all political parties and make a recommendation to the parliament.”

Mr Salmond made clear he was opposed to a big pay rise for politicians at a time of austerity. He said: “Pay for MPs – and MSPs – should not rise beyond the limits of the restraints currently placed on public sector pay.

“It is ludicrous to suggest that parliamentarians should be given anything beyond these norms, at a time when public sector workers are having to make do with much, much lower pay increases.”

Part of IPSA’s justification for its recommended rise in MPs’ salaries is an accompanying proposal for a cut in allowances and a less generous pension.

But these changes would not apply at Holyrood, which has its own expenses system and a separate pension scheme.

IPSA’s chairman Sir Ian Kennedy remained defiant after announcing the new package for consultation, insisting politicians’ pay had to “catch up” after years of being suppressed.

The regulator has final responsibility for setting MPs’ pay and pensions, meaning that if the consultation results in no change to the proposed increase, it would need a change in the law to block its decisions.