Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Corrupt, Incompetent. How Voters See MPs, by Commons Pay Review Chief

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Corrupt, Incompetent. How Voters See MPs, by Commons Pay Review Chief

Article excerpt

Byline: Tom Harper

THE head of the Commons antisleaze watchdog today warned MPs they should be "very worried" over reforms to their pay and pensions.

Ken Olisa, senior board member of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, has received scores of damning assessments of politicians' value during his review of parliamentary salaries.

Responses from the public branded MPs "despicable, incompetent, corrupt and treacherous" and said they "should get paid the same amount as British Army privates".

Mr Olisa, a former merchant banker said there was a "deep division" between what politicians expected to be paid and what the wider public felt they were worth.

Revealing the first submissions to the authority's consultation, with a report due this year, he said: "I think the split between the politicians and the people is because they are not on the same page on pay."

Following the expenses scandal, MPs were stripped of the right to set their own pay and pensions for the first time since the 14th century. The power was granted to the standards authority, which is asking the nation to consider the question: "How much is my MP worth?" Former Tory minister Ann Widdecombe, broadcaster Jon Snow, former No10 spin doctor Alastair Campbell and ex-adviser to Tony Blair Matthew Taylor have all sent in responses arguing for MPs to be well-paid to attract the best people, with some arguing for an increase from the current level of about [pounds sterling]65,000 a year.

Miss Widdecombe said: "I have for some time favoured the option of scrapping all the second-home allowance and enlarging the salary instead."

She continued: "I believe [the standards authority] should take a deep breath, recommend a substantial one-off increase and Parliament should have the courage to go along with it, so that we do not get the endless disputes over MPs' pay every year. …

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