A spokesman for the House of Commons Fees Office said yesterday that MPs had until the end of this week to limit their increase for this month's salary payment. After that, it was likely that any voluntary cuts would come out of next month's.
Under the terms of the Commons resolution passed on MPs' pay, the backbench salary goes up from pounds 34,085 to pounds 43,000, backdated to 1 July - an increase of 26 per cent, or pounds 445.95 a month after tax at 40p in the pound.
Chris Mullin, the Labour MP who was barracked in the debate when he called for restraint, said yesterday he would take a 3 per cent rise - just over pounds 1,000 a year - and give away the rest of the pounds 8,915 gross increase. "I have had for some years a donations account, so for anything over 3 per cent I will transfer it into that account and give it away," he said. " If I were to leave it with the Treasury, it would only be given away in tax cuts to Tory voters."
As announced last week, Tony Blair, the Labour leader, is also exercising self-restraint after last week's vote, when he endorsed the Prime Minister's call for ministers and others to set an example.
John Major's idea of public example does not extend to telling the public what he is going to do with the pounds 17,340 increase he is due in his parliamentary salary from the start of this month. The Prime Minister's office said that was "a private matter".
All ministers will get that increase, which comes from the rise in the parliamentary element of their pay from an abated level of pounds 25,660 to the full backbench rate of pounds 43,000, unless they instruct the Treasury to withhold the full amount.
The pace-setting - and public - example being set by Mr Blair could help them to make up their minds. He has decided that he will take 3 per cent of his overall salary of pounds 65,992, which comprised pounds 25,660 parliamentary salary and pounds 40,332 salary as Leader of Her Majesty's Opposition. That means he will take an increase of just under pounds 2,000, and leave more than pounds 15,000 with the Treasury.
If Mr Major took a 3 per cent rise on his overall salary of pounds 84,217, he would get an increase of just over pounds 2,500.Reuse content