Tory MPs want to double their wages

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The Independent Online
EIGHT in 10 MPs want to see their salary of pounds 34,085 a year increased, and most Tories think it should virtually be doubled. The findings have prompted new moves to have the job of fixing MPs' pay, currently carried out by the Commons itself, handed over to an independent commission.

According to The Parliamentary Monitor, which commissioned the survey from the Harris political research unit, only 15 per cent of MPs are happy with their pay, although Labour members are looking for a smaller rise than the Conservatives.

The Leader of the House, Tony Newton, is said to be considering ways of changing the structure for determining MPs' pay, and a senior Labour backbencher, Gerry Bermingham, has now written to the Labour leader, Tony Blair, urging him to support a new review body. "If MPs were paid properly, they would not need to have outside jobs," Mr Bermingham said.

"We need a totally independent commission, whose members are in no way connected with Parliament, to set wage levels. This is the only way we can stop the allegations of sleaze."

The prospect of a dramatic change in MPs' salaries began to emerge after the Commons voted last year to compel them to disclose income from political consultancy work. Some members demanded higher pay as a quid pro quo.

The survey showed only 15 per cent of MPs were happy with their lot, and 83 per cent wanted more. The two most favoured bands are pounds 40,000 to pounds 55,000 (32 per cent support) and pounds 55,000 to pounds 70,000 (36). Only 6 per cent want more than pounds 85,000.

There were differences between the two main parties. For example, 71 per cent of Labour MPs said pay should be less than pounds 55,000, whereas 68 per cent of Tory MPs said it should be more. In fact, 22 per cent of Tory MPs think they are worth more than pounds 70,000 a year.

MPs also think ministers deserve more. Cabinet Members receive between pounds 42,834 and pounds 55,329 on top of their parliamentary salary, but eight out of 10 MPs say this is "inadequate".