In an interview with the New Statesman, Worthing West’s Sir Peter Bottomey suggested being elected 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’.
The article suggests an average GP salary in England is £100,700, while an MP is paid £81,932 a year.
Sir Peter argued that doctors are ‘paid far too little today’, but if they would get roughly £100,000 the equivalent for an MP to have the same standard of living would be between £110,000 and £115,000.
And while he personally does not suffer financial strain, he believes the situation is ‘desperately difficult’ for newer colleagues. He said: “I don’t know how they manage. It’s really grim.”
He later clarified the comments on LBC, saying: “Should there be a pay increase now, the answer is no and I’m on the record repeatedly saying never change the pay of MPs in between elections. Set the pay at a general election and stick to that until you have another general election.”
And speaking to this newspaper, while it was fine to have some people who are retired and could live on a lower income in Parliament, he gave examples such as a local police commander, head of a sixth form or manager of a pharmaceutical business and asked if it was right if people in these sorts of professions should sacrifice a significant proportion of their income to become MPs.
He argued that to encourage people into Parliament, they had to make conditions such that they could do so without having to worry about money too much.
The comments come as the Conservative government has stopped the £20 a week uplift in Universal Credit and households are also faced with the prospect of soaring energy bills.
Sir Peter went on to say that MPs and their teams are fully aware of the struggles faced by those in ‘troublesome circumstances’, both in normal times and during the pandemic, and spent their time trying to make these people’s lives better.