Why should MHKs vote for a pay cut?

Tynwald buildings, Douglas

Tynwald buildings, Douglas

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The chairman of Tymwald’s emoluments committee insists MHKs will continue to have their pay based on the civil service scale - but pegged at a different point.

Speaker Steve Rodan said the move was necessary to avoid the ‘ridiculous situation of potentially having different rates of pay for doing the same work’.

The emoluments committee had been due to seek an order from Treasury at this month’s Tynwald sitting to create a new formula for setting members’ pay.

This was prompted by revised terms and conditions for new government starters from April. But inadvertently, this has meant that new MHKs after the general election would be paid 10 per cent less too - as Tynwald members’ pay is pegged to a point on the civil service pay scale.

But the Council of Ministers has now asked the emoluments committee to present a report first setting out its case.

Mr Rodan said the report would likely go before the July Tynwald - and the Treasury order sought at the same sitting. He said it would have been ‘more straight forward’ for Treasury to make the order without a report being produced.

Mr Rodan said: ‘I would be surprised if members accept a situation where we had varying rates of pay. Why should they vote for a pay cut? It’s difficult enough getting election candidates coming forward as it is.’

He said: ‘Because the pay scale has changed we need to re-peg at the same level. If adjusting civil service pay had inadvertently had the consequence of raising our pay the public would have expected us quite quickly to do something about that. We have not asked for a pay rise. We have had no option but to re-peg to the civil service scale. It’s quite independent and we won’t have this unseemly discussion about our own pay.’

Mr Rodan said the emoluments committee had been scrupulous re-pegging members pay on the civil service scale at a point that is the near equivalent rate. It will result in a £5 pay reduction in their £39,542 basic pay.

Chief Minister Allan Bell said: ‘This issue is strictly a parliamentary matter and not an issue for CoMin or government.

‘We have asked the emoluments committee to make its case to Tynwald as to why this change should take place and allow Tynwald to have a debate about this. It’s unfortunate to say the least that this has come up in this way.

‘It’s a difficult one. There is no question that members should not be treated in any different way to the workforce, at a time when we are cutting back on government expenditure. But the employment of MHKs is somewhat different to permanent members of staff. We come in on a five-year contract and there needs to be some acknowledgement of that.’

Mr Bell pointed out that members’ pay had been fixed on the civil service pay scale for more than 20 years and this had been done to distance members from getting involved in setting their own pay. The emoluments committee proposals seemed to ‘bring us back into the realm of setting our own pay levels’, he said.

Mr Bell said most members had ‘not fully appreciated’ that the changes for new government starters would impact on their own pay. He said it would create an anomaly of new MHKs coming in on 10 per cent less pay than re-elected members doing exactly the same job and the same level of responsibility.

It could be argued, however, that all MHKs elected in September will be new starters and so all would have had cut a pay cut of about £4,000.

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