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Ministers set for 4.7% pay increase

The Government is willing to risk strong criticism by going ahead with a 4.7 per cent pay increase for ministers despite strong opposition from within the Cabinet itself and a likely row in the Commons.

Whitehall and ministerial sources confirmed last night that MPs would be asked next week to approve the increase - more than twice the rate of inflation - on the grounds that it was only making up for a an earlier freeze in pay for MPs and ministers.

Barring a last-minute change of heart, most Cabinet ministers will resist a late appeal against the move by a number of their colleagues, including John Redwood, Secretary of State for Wales, on the grounds that it would set a bad example.

Tony Newton, Leader of the Commons, said yesterday that an order raising ministers' pay would be submitted to Parliament next Thursday. Current salary levels for ministers, over and above their pounds 31,687 earnings as an MP, range from pounds 18,130 for a junior whip to pounds 53,007 for the Prime Minister.