What are MPs paid?

MPs currently receive a basic annual salary of £81,932. On top of this they can claim allowances to allow them to employ staff and run an office, and to maintain residences in London and their constituency.

MPs who do not take their seats in the Commons are not entitled to receive salaries, though they can still claim expenses to allow them to undertake constituency duties.

How can MPs add to their salary with further roles in Parliament or government?

Some MPs receive additional salary for performing specific parliamentary roles.

Chairs of select committees, and members of the Panel of Chairs – MPs appointed by the Speaker to chair Public Bill Committees and other general committees – received an additional £16,422 in 2021/22.

The Speaker of the House of Commons received an additional £76,885; the main deputy Speaker (known as the Chairman of Ways and Means) £41,981; and the other deputy Speakers £36,896 (figures from 2017/18).

MPs who are ministers are also eligible to receive additional salary (though may choose not to claim the full amount). This includes certain members of the Opposition, reflecting the official role the Opposition plays in Parliament. These salaries are paid by the government, rather than Parliament.

In 2021/22:

  • The prime minister is eligible to receive an additional £79,936
  • Cabinet ministers can receive an extra £71,673 and ministers of state £34,367
  • Parliamentary secretaries and under-secretaries can claim an extra £24,678
  • Whips and assistant chips (other than the chief and deputy chief whip) can receive an additional £20,043
  • The government’s law officers—the attorney general and solicitor general—are eligible to receive £99,732 and £61,696 respectively
  • The leader of the Official Opposition and Opposition whips are also entitled to receive additional payments.

Who sets the pay of MPs?

MPs’ pay, allowances and pensions are all set by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA), a statutory body established in the wake of the MPs’ expenses scandal. Following a review in 2013, IPSA decided to link annual changes in MPs’ pay to the Office of National Statistics index of average earnings in the public sector.

In 2021, MPs’ pay was artificially held level in response to the unusual economic circumstances created by the pandemic. IPSA is legally required to review the mechanism by which MPs’ pay is set once in every parliament and such a review was underway in late 2021.

How does MPs’ salary compare to devolved nations?

The basic pay of members of the Scottish Parliament is set at 87.5% of the pay received by UK MPs. The pay of members of the Senedd is currently £67,649. It was set at £64,000 at the start of the Fifth Assembly and is indexed to average earnings in Wales.

Are MPs allowed second jobs?

There is no limit – in terms of money earned or time taken – on the second jobs that an MP can take on. All outside interests must be declared in the Register of Members’ Interests within 28 days of the interest arising or changing, and interests should be declared whenever an MP engages in parliamentary business that could be thought to relate to them.

There is a ban on ‘paid advocacy’ – lobbying on behalf of any interest that is paying or providing another benefit to an MP, and MPs are not allowed to use parliamentary facilities when undertaking activities for personal gain. These are the rules which Owen Paterson was found to have repeatedly breached.

What difficult questions does this mean?

The Owen Paterson affair has again raised questions about whether MPs should be able to take on consultancy jobs as paid advisers to outside interests – something the Committee on Standards in Public Life recommended in 2018 should be banned. The affair has also raised wider issues about whether MPs should be spending time on second jobs when they could be working on behalf of their constituents – with former Attorney General Geoffrey Cox MP subject to criticism for spending hundreds of hours on lucrative legal jobs. In connection with this, questions have been raised about whether MPs’ salaries and allowances are set at an appropriate level.

Update date: 
Friday, November 12, 2021

Original source – The Institute for Government

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