Pay demand MPs seek Nolan support

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Senior Tory MPs want the controversial issue of pay rises for MPs to be referred to the Nolan Committee on public standards.

The MPs are seeking the support of the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats to refer the growing demands for a large increase in their pounds 34,085-a-year salaries to the Nolan Committee to ensure that action is taken.

They fear that Parliament has become hamstrung over MPs' pay rises, after the row surrounding MPs' earnings which followed the Nolan Committee recommendations on their private incomes.

Sir Terence Higgins, a member of the Executive of the 1922 Committee, is one of those senior Tory MPs supporting referral to the Nolan Committee. He has made it clear to colleagues that it could not be done by Tony Newton, the Leader of the House, without the backing of Ann Taylor, Labour's spokesman, and the Liberal Democrats.

Labour and Liberal Democrat sources said yesterday they both supported the principle of MPs' pay being decided by an independent formula, and may support such a move.

There are misgivings about the idea among some Tory MPs. "Labour will agree to a pay rise for MPs, providing we stop all our outside earnings. I don't think we'd like that," said one Tory backbencher.

A poll in Parliamentary Monitor by Harris Political Research this week showed that both Conservative and Labour MPs want a substantial pay rise.