DEBATE: Should MPs get a pay rise?

Joseph Dinnage and Kieran Neild-Ali

March 2, 2022

Joseph Dinnage, Digital Officer at the Institute of Economic Affairs, argues YES

IPSA’s announcement that MPs are to receive a 2.7 per cent pay rise has been met with widespread outrage. Superficially, this is understandable.

During a cost-of-living crisis, and with a 1.25 per cent increase in national insurance looming, one can sympathise with their fury. However, a cursory glance at the immense task of being an MP quickly paints a different picture.

Working as an MP comes with vast responsibilities. When Sir Peter Bottomley described an MP’s existence on £81,193 as “really grim”, he was met with revulsion. However, while the salary is almost three times that of the national average, being an MP is not an ‘average’ job.

Be it over social media, print or in parliament, constant scrutiny and personal invasion becomes an accepted part of daily life. This is before even mentioning the physical threats faced by MPs due to their public-facing role. One only needs to think back to the tragic murder of David Amess for evidence of the tremendous occupational risks they face.

Further, if we expect our representatives to perform these duties well, an added financial incentive could only improve our chances. The Owen Paterson affair and subsequent public furore exhibits the need for MPs to be dissuaded from taking on controversial second jobs. If MPs’ salaries were truly reflective of their efforts, they would find themselves unwilling and unable to justify taking on such roles.

Fundamentally, as with any profession, let alone one as taxing as public representation, it is vital that talented candidates are not repelled by financial constraints and the potential for their crucial work to go unrewarded. As IPSA Chairman, Richard Lloyd, put it yesterday, “MPs play a vital role in our democracy and this is reflected in their pay”.

Kieran Neild-Ali, Communications and Public Affairs Officer at the Institute of Economic Affairs, argues NO

It’s become a staple fixture of the British political calendar for IPSA to rear its head and hand our MPs a pay increase.

Most, if not every time, the working public react with dismay. I share their dismay.

To justify pay rises, MPs salaries are often compared to those of GPs, or to professionals in the legal sector and finance. But just because their friends in the lofty echelons of society may be paid more, does not mean MPs themselves should be.

The lawyers and the doctors of this world earn their buck by studying hard, learning the intricacies of their profession, and ultimately giving their clients a great service. Lawyers aim to win cases and doctors aim to save lives.

Being an MP is not a profession, it is a privilege – a position which ought to be held by those who care only about representing their constituents – not by those who want to jump on the inflation indexed public sector pay bandwagon.

Of course, to attract MPs of all backgrounds, the position must be remunerated. But when a cost-of-living crisis is blighting the nation, with soaring fuel and food bills hitting people hard, it is unjust to reward those who have, in many cases, allowed this crisis to brew with a £2000+ bonus.

Let’s not forget, it is this Parliament that has allowed the National Insurance Contributions increase of 1.25 per cent to pass, which will hit working people hard come April.

If we want MPs to reflect the reality of life in Britain, it’s time to get them off the gravy train.


Written by Joseph Dinnage and Kieran Neild-Ali

Joseph Dinnage is Digital Officer at the Institute of Economic Affairs. Kieran Neild-Ali is Communications & Public Affairs Officer at the Institute of Economic Affairs.

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