No doubt there are probably hundreds of articles on the Internet regarding this very subject. However I thought I would look at it from the start, trying to understand how some of this came about.
Do a few searches in Google yielded some interesting results especially on Google Timeline.
Go back to February 1996 and you find an interesting article about John Majors government wanting to move MP's into a new pay league. At the time there was a feeling that MP's were poorly paid having a large sum of their salary docked.
In June1996 another article stating that MP's are set for a 30% pay increase. Even back then the idea was sneered at by members of the public and the work that MP's did was not considered as important some comments such as "part-timers" and "fly-by-night lobbyists" seemed to depict the mood at the time. The idea behind the pay rise was to sway MP's away from "moonlighting"
In July 1996 when Tony Blair's Shadow cabinet was split over the issue. They feared that an increase in MP's salaries would anger unions and voters. An interesting quote from the article:
Chris Mullin MP said: "You can live quite comfortably on pounds 33,000 a year [the existing salary for MPs]. Having one rule for MPs and another for everybody else is going to be very damaging." - source The Independent July 1996
March 2001 An independent review board of cabinet members salaries stated that "Tony Blair must allow cabinet members to accept their salaries in full because Labour's freeze on ministerial pay is distorting the parliamentary pay system."
According to the article cabinet ministers were furious by the pay freeze allowing them to only take home £96,887 instead of the £114, 543 they were entitled to a year. It seemed as though Tony Blair at the time was trying to set an example in his own cabinet.
October 2001 An interesting article in the Guardian stating how Councillors' pay has rocketed by 60% over the past 5 months. Top local politicians salaries being almost on par with most MP's
December 2002 Moonlighting MPs double their Common's salaries with lucrative directorships of companies.
At the time MP's were accusing striking firemen for having second jobs.
December 2004 Details of MP's expenses and allowances were published for the first time. The basic MP's salary at the time was £57,000 their total expenses claims totalled £80m in addition to perks and pensions. The public was invited to comment on this short article some of the comments were quite interesting. Some people defended it saying that we had to pay for good MP's while others could not understand why there was one law for MP's and one for the general public. Several commented on how MP's thought their jobs were more important than doctors and nurses who were on much lower pay.
There was also a feeling back then according to the comments in the article that MP's were out of touch. Some people were already objecting to the second home and employment of family members as secretaries or general staff members to MPs. Some people also felt we had too many MP's
July 2008 MPs vote to keep pay rise below inflation despite the anger of back benchers who insist they should be paid more. MP's at the time were on £61, 820 a year.
Interesting quotes from the article:
Harriet Harman, leader of the Commons, told MPs at the start of debate: "We should show the same discipline in our pay increases as we expect from the public sector." - source Guardian July 2008
David Maclean, the Conservative former minister, said that, on their current salary of £61,820, MPs were paid the same as a "second-tier officer in a district council".
He said that he felt MPs should be paid about £75,000 a year. And he said that he was willing to speak out "so that I can collect most of the hate mail". -source Guardian July 2008
Sir Patrick Cormack, the Conservative MP for South Staffordshire, said he was "appalled" by the attitude of the government and the Conservative frontbench. He said there were people in the Commons catering department who earned more than MPs.- source Guardian July 2008
April 2009 David Cameron suggests increasing MPs salaries in exchange for cuts in allowances
What I find interesting is how this all begun. It appears it started with some pretty good intentions, pay MP's more so they are less inclined to "moonlight". Pay a good wage to MP's and you should get some pretty good people in government if you apply the same principle used in private business..right? It seemed early on that party leaders were already worried about the impact MPs salaries would have on voters. It would appear to keep MPs happy, they were given expenses to make up for the shortfall and MPs treated these allowances as part of their salaries. Almost as bankers treated bonuses as part of their salaries we discovered when looking at the credit crunch, some were pretty angry when they did not get their "guaranteed bonus". To many it felt MP's were hugely out of touch with voters, they are basically public servants right? And to many they act as though they are members of the aristocracy.
I suppose if you have people in government who suffer the same day to day hardships you do and the same burdens of tax, you are more inclined to trust them and believe they will do their best to improve things for the ordinary person. When elected officials loose touch with the voting public it can lead to some pretty severe consequences, I am sure party leaders are only to aware of. People who are disillusioned can sometimes steer to far right parties and before long you can end up with a revolution as history has taught us only too well. Let us hope lessons have been learnt and parliament takes a more humble approach when it comes to the public purse strings.