Matt Hancock has refused to rule out receiving a pay rise after being asked 10 times during an interview on Good Morning Britain (GMB).
The health secretary said it was “tempting” to rule out a wage rise but said he would wait for the findings of an independent body on MPs’ pay before making any commitment.
Hancock’s comment comes after the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) ruled in October that MPs were entitled to a £3,300 pay increase.
The ruling was overturned by prime minister Boris Johnson following a widespread public backlash.
Appearing on GMB, the health minister shrugged off suggestions he and fellow MPs should commit to a pay freeze that they imposed on public sector workers.
Highlighting the pay-cut of MPs in New Zealand, presenter Morgan asked: “Would it not be the right thing to do for every MP in this country given frankly our woeful handling of the pandemic, that none of you agree to take a pay rise?”
“Well, as you say, these things are set independently and I have never voted on the pay of MPs,” the minister responded.
Piers cut in: “But if you were offered a pay rise, would you take it? As a collective body, you could all just say, ‘we know how tough it is out there, we know nearly a million people will have lost their jobs, we know we may have to freeze public sector pay for almost everybody for years so actually, we’re going to lead from the front’.
“I’d love to hear you say that I’m not going to take it.”
After a brief row and the minister promising to reappear on the programme following IPSA’s latest findings, Morgan interrupted: “No, no, no, no secretary of state, this is not a difficult question.
“I don’t care if they give you a pound extra because you know as well as I do that no member of this government in particular in a year of a global pandemic – we have the worst death toll in Europe and the worst economic meltdown in Europe – none of you should be taking a penny of a pay rise.”
Hancock responded: “I will answer this question when the pay policy has bee set out by the chancellor and there’s lots of speculation in the paper -“.
Morgan continued to challenge the minister, shouting: “Come on, I’ve given you an open goal. Hit the damn football! You either think you deserve one of you don’t.”
He continued: “You told footballers to do their bit, why aren’t you doing your bit?”
Hancock replied: “I’m quite prepared to do my bit… the chancellor is going to set out the pay policy on Wednesday. The independent body on MPs say will no doubt set out its policy at some point. I’m sure it will take into account all these things.
“The reason I’m not answering the question, as tempting as it is, is because I think these things should be done the proper way. I have never set my pay even to say it should be frozen. You can’t knock me off the perch -“
Morgan began talking over the Tory minister, saying: “No one cares about knocking you off the perch. You’re not a parrot, you’re the health secretary in the year of a catastrophic handling of a pandemic.
“I simply ask you one more time because a lot of our viewers have lost their job and a lot are worrying about feeding their children -“
“Three million people are being excluded from support,” chimed in co-host Susanna Reid.
“One last time, you have it in your power right now to say that I Matt Hancock do not want a penny extra,” continued Morgan.
The minister said he would wait for IPSA’s judgment.
On Twitter, @ThebattleWithi3 posted: “I actually agree with @piersmorgan on this one. With so many jobs going and people now struggling to survive. How can the MPs take the payrise when it’s been stopped for everyone else.”
I actually agree with @piersmorgan on this one.
With so many jobs going and people now struggling to survive. How can the MP's take the payrise when it's been stopped for everyone else. https://t.co/WOQGs2xwrZ
— The battle within, A soldiers story (@ThebattleWithi3) November 23, 2020
Mekala shared: “No politician should be taking a pay rise, as they are part of the public sector whose pay rise they will be freezing so too should theirs.”
Kay-Tee added: “If he can’t even answer a simple yes or no question then that doesn’t give me much faith in him as an MP really.”
If he can't even answer a simple yes or no question then that doesn't give me much faith in him as an MP really 🤷♀️
— Kay-Tee (@Katy_mo) November 23, 2020