MPs shouldn't receive a pay rise
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has said that MPs should not be receiving a pay rise following the publication of a new report on parliamentary expenses.
Mr Herbert was speaking on the BBC's Question Time programme, broadcast from Reading on Thursday night (5 November).
In response to the question "Do MPs deserve a pay rise?" Mr Herbert commented: "I certainly don't think that there should be a pay rise and I think that we have to accept the verdict of Sir Christopher Kelly in full.
"We also have to recognise that enormous damage has been done to the reputation of Parliament and to the trust that needs to exist between voters and their Members of Parliament. We have to understand public anger about this and respond to their concern. We've now had this report. We can't cherry-pick. In my view, all of the recommendations need to be taken forward as soon as possible."
Mr Herbert said that it was "absolutely right" that an independent body will now be setting the levels of pay and expenses for MPs. Mr Herbert also said that, in an economic downturn when the country will be asked to tighten its belt, MPs must accept the new financial regime however tough it might be for some individuals.
Responding to other questions from the audience, Mr Herbert said that the Labour Government had reneged on its manifesto promise to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty and that it would have been held had the Conservatives been in power. Mr Herbert said a new Conservative government would introduce a new law to ensure that no further powers could be transferred to the EU without a referendum and that it would negotiate to take some powers back.
In response to a question on the war in Afghanistan, Mr Herbert warned against the UK withdrawing her troops from the country "prematurely", thereby leaving it open to Al Qaeda terrorists, and said that the majority of Afghans wanted the troops to stay. Mr Herbert added that there was, however, a "moral obligation" on the Government to equip British troops properly.
On a question relating to immigration, Mr Herbert criticised the ‘open door' policy of the Labour Government that had allowed 250,000 people to settle here each year and warned that the projected UK population of 70 million people would put "enormous pressure" on public services. Mr Herbert pledged that a Conservative government would set an annual limit on immigration, taking account of the needs of the economy.
Nick Herbert, who is Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, was joined on the panel by Welsh Secretary Peter Hain MP, former Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Ian Blair, former MEP and broadcaster Robert Kilroy-Silk and comedian and columnist Natalie Haynes.
Question Time is recorded and broadcast on Thursday evenings. Panellists are not told in advance what the questions will be.
Notes for Editors
1. To watch the Question Time programme, visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00nqcq7/Question_Time_05_11_2009/.