PM takes tough line on pay rises for MPs

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Indy Politics

MPs and ministers are to be told they will have to settle for a wage rise of less than 2 per cent as part of Gordon Brown's clampdown on public sector pay.

The Prime Minister has told ministers he will peg their pay rise and increases in MPs' salaries to about 1.9 per cent the same as the police, who will today announce plans to strike over the squeeze on their pay.

The Police Federation intends to ballot its members on whether to end the strike ban. Its leaders are furious that a 2.5 per cent pay award, due to have taken effect on 1 September, will not be in place until this month, making it worth only 1.9 per cent over a year. Some officers are threatening a work to rule. Jan Berry, the federation's chairman, said: "I think we are definitely going to have to ballot people. There is so much anger and frustration out there at the moment."

To limit the fall-out among MPs, Mr Brown has delayed the Government's response to a report by the Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB). It is believed to have proposed a rise of about 2.5 per cent on MPs' current salaries of 60,277.

Some MPs have called for a 68 per cent rise to put them on 100,000 a year, the same level as GPs and council chiefs, but that has been rejected by Downing Street. One former minister said: "We should be paid what the SSRB recommends ... If they had said we should be paid, 100,000 I would have grabbed it."

Some MPs had been hoping a review by the SSRB of what MPs are worth, with the prospect of a substantial increase to match pay rises in the private sector. As the chairman of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, Sir Michael Spicer urged the SSRB to allow catch-up increases.

"For 10 years the system has gone on without really being kept up-to-date," he said. MPs "keep falling quite badly behind" their external comparators.

Nurses, midwives and other health professionals were offered a 2.5 per cent increase by the independent pay review body, but Mr Brown staged the award to give them only 1.5 per cent in April and a further 1 per cent in November, when the starting salary for a newly qualified nurse was raised to 19,600.