Nicky Morgan, the culture secretary who stood down as an MP only to be elevated weeks later to the House of Lords, is planning to keep an £8,400 payment given to members who are closing down their offices.
Morgan, who is paid a cabinet minister’s salary of £79,754, said she will accept the winding-up payment given to retiring MPs.
A Labour MP has called for both Morgan and Zac Goldsmith, another minister who was unexpectedly elevated to the Lords, to pay back any money they have accepted.
Chris Bryant, the MP for Rhondda, said: “After all the talk of democracy it would be wrong for any MP who has lost or resigned their seat and is immediately put on a salary as a minister in the Lords to take this double payment. Both Nicky and Zac should consider giving it to charity.”
Under new Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) rules implemented after the 2019 election, MPs can claim for an additional two months’ salary – about £8,400 – if they close down their office.
Morgan announced she was standing down as the MP for Loughborough in October, in a letter that cited “the clear impact on my family and the other sacrifices involved in, and the abuse for, doing the job of a modern MP” as part of the reason for her decision. But she was highly visible during the election campaign while other senior ministers, including Andrea Leadsom and Victoria Atkins, were hardly seen.
When asked by the Guardian on 25 November last year whether she had communicated with anyone connected to No 10 or Boris Johnson about a possible job in government or peerage, she replied: “No.”
Days after Johnson’s landslide election victory, the new prime minister surprised many by making Morgan a life peer and asking her to remain in post.
Morgan said she would accept the winding-up payment, despite protests from other MPs. “We are all entitled to a winding-up payment and that is what I am doing, winding up all my work as an MP. I am taking it,” she said.
Former MPs who lost their seats at the general election – or those who stepped down just before it – are entitled to more than £2m in taxpayers’ money.
Under IPSA rules, 71 defeated MPs can claim a “loss of office payment” equal to double the existing statutory redundancy pay rate – taking into account years of service, weekly pay and age – for non-MPs.
Goldsmith, a minister of state who lost his Richmond Park seat last month, would be entitled not only to the winding-up payment but also to a separate loss of office payment. The Cabinet Office has been asked whether he has accepted either payment.