Tory MP Sir Peter Bottomley has complained that some MPs find it “really grim” to live on a salary of £82,000.
The 77-year-old Worthing West MP – who has served since 1975, making him the Father of the House – said that annual salaries, which do not include expenses and other perks, should be higher.
The median salary in the UK is just over £31,000, according to the Office for National Statistics.
In an interview with the New Statesman, Sir Peter suggested MPs should be paid as much as a GP, at around £100,000.
An £18,000 increase to MPs’ salaries would represent a pay rise of nearly 22 per cent. Earlier this year, the government offered NHS staff a pay rise of just three per cent.
Sir Peter’s intervention came as the Tories enacted the biggest overnight welfare cut since the Second World War, slashing the £20-a-week Universal Credit uplift – a move expected to plunge millions into poverty this winter.
He said the £20 uplift should have been “tapered off” rather than severed completely.
“I take the view that being an MP is the greatest honour you could have, but a general practitioner in politics ought to be paid roughly the same as a general practitioner in medicine,” he told the New Statesman.
“Doctors are paid far too little nowadays. But if they would get roughly £100,000 a year, the equivalent for an MP to get the same standard of living would be £110-£115,000 a year.
“It’s never the right time, but if your MP isn’t worth the money, it’s better to change the MP than to change the money.”
While Sir Peter said he did not struggle financially, he said the situation was “desperately difficult” for newer MPs. “I don’t know how they manage,” he said. “It’s really grim.”
Yet, despite his sincerity, sympathy for Bottomley was hard to find out – with some pointing out that he had routinely voted for welfare cuts during his lengthy stint in the Commons.
Others simply had no time for Sir Peter’s complaints.
One person did have a solution, however.