Spend MPs' pay rise on 152 new research staff
The Electoral Reform Society has called on the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) to put the money earmarked for an increase in MPs’ salaries towards new research staff for non-government MPs.
The £3.9m per year which IPSA suggests should go straight into MPs’ pay packets could instead fund 152 full-time researchers with office space in Westminster. This new research service could be dedicated to supporting backbench MPs in holding the executive to account.
Katie Ghose, chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:
“MPs don’t need more spending money. What they need is more resources to be able to do their job properly. A £6,000 pay rise will not help MPs hold the executive to account or represent their constituents in Westminster.
“If we’re going to spend nearly £4m on MPs, we should spend it more wisely. A dedicated service of over 150 research staff would give backbenchers real teeth.
“While the government is able to call on the expertise and vast experience of the civil service, MPs have much fewer resources. A new research service dedicated exclusively to backbench MPs would make a huge difference to the quality of work MPs would be able to do.
“The fuss over MPs’ pay is a sideshow. It’s time we talked about giving our MPs the support they need to represent us effectively in Westminster.”
A Yougov/Sunday Times poll has found that 50% think MPs are already paid too much, while 35% think they are paid about the right amount.
 This figure is reached by a) assuming an average salary of £25k per annum per researcher, and b) assuming the average cost of desk space in Westminster is £670 per annum per researcher (see http://www.morganpryce.co.uk/news/westminster-office-space-prices-defy-recession).