Major signals displeasure over rebellion

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JOHN MAJOR was said by his press office yesterday to be 'disappointed' at MPs' decision by 324 votes to 197 to ignore his advice and vote themselves an pounds 11,000 increase - to pounds 39,960 - in their office costs allowance.

Forty-one Tory MPs voted against the Government, 12 of them new members, with scores abstaining. The Prime Minister's office said the decision 'doesn't give the right signal' when Mr Major was on record opposing 'massive salary increases' in the private sector and on the need to keep public spending tight. The decision will cost pounds 7.1m.

The Institution of Professional Civil Servants, some of whose members last week had their recommended rises cut to 4 per cent for this year, accused MPs of double standards in voting themselves a 38 per cent increase. MPs defended the decision by arguing it covered office equipment and their staff's pay, not their own, when the review body had concluded that the pay of their staff was being unfairly squeezed.

Others maintained that the Government was trying to reduce monitoring of government action by leaving MPs ill-resourced.

MPs' allowances pale beside the pounds 50,000 office costs plus pounds 20,000 setting-up costs which Euro-MPs receive, along with a pounds 128-a-day subsistence allowance, plus flights and travel. The review body's study of MPs in 13 other countries showed MPs were about half-way up the scale, but were clearly 'not as well provided for' as French deputies or German MPs, the two EC countries comparable in size of population and economy.

Cabinet ministers may well take the extra cash for their Commons offices but a spokesman for Mr Major said: 'It is a matter for MPs, the Prime Minister voted against it.'

Tory MPs who voted for the extra allowance and against the Government, with members who were elected for the first time last April asterisked, are:

Rupert Allason (Torbay); David Atkinson (Bournemouth E); *Michael Bates (Langbaurgh); John Biffen (Shropshire N); Andrew Bowden (Brighton Kemptown); *Angela Browning (Tiverton); Ian Bruce (Dorset S); *Peter Butler (Milton Keynes NE); Michael Colvin (Romsey and Waterside); James Cran (Beverley); Edwina Currie (Derbyshire S); Quentin Davies (Stamford and Spalding); Stephen Day (Cheadle); Hugh Dykes (Harrow E); *Harold Elletson (Blackpool N); *Nigel Evans (Ribble Valley); *Roger Evans (Monmouth); *Michael Fabricant (Staffordshire Mid); Sir George Gardiner (Reigate); Teresa Gorman (Billericay).

John Gorst (Hendon N); John Greenway (Ryedale); Sir Michael Grylls (Surrey NW); Andrew Hargreaves (Birmingham Hall Green); *Nicholas Hawkins (Blackpool S); Warren Hawksley (Halesowen and Stourbridge); Ralph Howell (Norfolk N); Andrew Hunter (Basingstoke); Roger Knapman (Stroud); *Peter Luff (Worcester); *Lady Olga Maitland (Sutton and Cheam); Patrick Nicholls (Teignbridge).

David Nicholson (Taunton); Tim Rathbone (Lewes); *Rod Richards (Clwyd NW); David Shaw (Dover); Sir Dudley Smith (Warwick and Leamington); Anthony Steen (South Hams); *Michael Stephen (Shoreham); Michael Stern (Bristol NW); and Jerry Wiggin (Weston-super- Mare).