Meanwhile, it emerged that the Prime Minister has told the Cabinet that they must decide personally whether or not to take the money, but that their decisions, like his, must be kept secret. "He told us he didn't want empty gestures for PR purposes and that their decisions must remain private whatever it was," a Cabinet minister was quoted as saying. John Rentoul
Labour has appealed to its MPs to donate their rise in excess of 3 per cent to "good causes". Tony Blair, the Labour leader, who will himself only accept 3 per cent, said he was not criticising MPs who took the money. "I am in quite a different position from my colleagues. I am paid far more than they are. I voted for 3 per cent - that is what I shall take because that is what I voted for," he said. Mr Blair was paid pounds 64,167 a year, and became entitled to pounds 83,332, a rise of 30 per cent, when MPs defied pleas for restraint from both himself and the Prime Minister. He will now take pounds 66,092, as from the beginning of this month.