FDA union general secretary: MPs pay has been artificially held down

Dave Penman, general secretary of the FDA union for senior civil servants, has defended the expected proposals for increases in MP’s pay, and the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA)’s role in determining it.

This comes as IPSA is expected to recommend an increase in salaries for backbench MPs of up to £10,000 (current salaries are at £66,000). David Cameron has called the plan “unthinkable”, but has been told he will not be able to block the recommendations and that MPs would stop any attempt to do so in the Commons. Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said that the public would find it impossible to understand if MPs were granted a pay rise, and added that he would not take any increase recommended. The comment made at the first of a series of monthly press conferences by Clegg will now put the pressure on David Cameron and Ed Miliband to match his promise.

Speaking on BBC News, Penman said that MP’s pay had been artificially held down for “good politics”, and that IPSA is fulfilling its role as an independent body to correct the disparity between what MPs earn and what they deserve. When setting up IPSA, he said, the idea wasn’t for MPs to set their own pay, but for an independent body to determine what they were worth. He added that this is entirely appropriate for both MPs and the rest of the public sector.

Penman was asked if there would be a moral imperative for individual MPs to reject a pay increase. “I think that’s a matter for MP’s individual conscience and they will have to account for whatever decision they take.”

Penman's comments echo those of Tory MP Mark Pritchard, who also defended the recommendations (which haven't actually been released yet) on the basis that an independent body rather than MPs made them. He added that, "in an ideal world, we'd like to give more money to teachers and firemen", but MPs' pay is "lagging behind".