The Westminster party's over, Cameron tells MPs

An incoming Conservative government would cut the cost of politics by £120m a year to give a lead to the rest of the public sector, David Cameron promised yesterday.

Ministerial salaries would be reduced by 5 per cent and frozen until the following general election to save £250,000 a year; spending on the 170-strong fleet of ministerial cars would be reduced by one-third; and MPs would lose their subsidised food and drink in the Houses of Parliament to save £5.5m a year.

The Tory leader confirmed he would cut the number of MPs by 10 per cent at the following election, from 650 to 585, to save an estimated £15.5m a year. Labour claims the move would permanently deprive it of 20 Commons seats. The Tories insist Labour is over-represented at present because of the way parliamentary boundaries are drawn in the Labour-dominated cities and the Tories' rural heartlands.

"With the Conservatives, the gravy train will well and truly hit the buffers," Mr Cameron announced in a speech in London. "I want to make clear: under a Conservative government, far from politicians being exempt from the age of austerity, they must show leadership. And leadership is about doing, not just telling."

He admitted that the £500m-a-year cost of Parliament was only a "pinprick" in terms of total public spending, and that his planned savings would not solve the debt crisis at a time when the Government would borrow £175bn in the current year.

Mr Cameron said: "This is about more than the money. It's about the message. And the message is this. This country is in a debt crisis. We must all now come together, play our part, carry our burden and pay our fair share. And that starts at the very top – with politicians cutting the cost of politics."

The Tory leader accused Labour of wasting millions of pounds of taxpayers' money on "a cushy lifestyle for politicians", citing their gold-plated pensions, subsidised food, official cars and new payments such as the £10,000-a-year "communications allowance" for MPs, which the Tories would abolish to save £5m annually.

"Last year, it cost £500m to run Parliament. That's twice as much as it did in 1997. And has it really got twice as good?" Mr Cameron asked.

He pointed out that there were now 169 ministerial posts with salaries ranging from £26,624 to £132,923. "It's only right, at a time like this, that they make a sacrifice. So we will cut all ministerial salaries – that's the money they get on top of their MPs' salary – by an immediate 5 per cent. This means a pay cut of £6,500 for the prime minister and a £4,000 pay cut for cabinet ministers," he said.

The parliamentary authorities would be asked to deliver a 10 per cent reduction in refreshment department costs, he announced. "Walk into a bar in Parliament and you buy a pint of Fosters for £2.10," he said. "That's a little over half as much as in a normal London pub. And in the restaurants on the parliamentary estate, you can treat yourself to a 'Lean salad of lemon and lime-marinated roasted tofu with baby spinach and rocket, home-roasted plum tomatoes and grilled ficelle crouton' for just £1.70."

Mr Cameron said: "If there is something that really annoys people it's seeing politicians swanning around in chauffeur-driven cars like they're the Royal Family. There are times when having a car to hand... is absolutely vital to our democratic process. But there is no need for 171 of these cars to be on hand for every government minister, whip – and indeed, myself."

Perks of the job: Life in the Commons

Pay A rank and file MP has a basic salary of £64,766. A committee chairman is paid £79,132. A Cabinet minister is paid £141,866.

Pensions Unlike almost everyone else, MPs still enjoy a final salary pension scheme, which is worth half their final salary after 20 years' service, and more if they stay longer.

Severance MPs who lose their seats or stand down at an election can claim up to £42,068 as a "winding up allowance" to cover the cost of closing down their offices and a "resettlement grant" that varies between 50 and 100 per cent of their salary to help them adjust to life outside the Commons.

Communications allowance MPs can claim up to £10,400 for conducting surveys or sending newsletters, etc, to constituents. David Cameron says he would scrap this.

Travel MPs can claim for fares by public transport and 40p a mile if they drive their own cars on parliamentary business. Their staff, spouses and children under 18 can also claim some travel allowances.

Cheap food All the cafés and restaurants in Parliament are subsidised. Mr Cameron cited a "lean salad of lemon and lime marinated roasted tofu with baby spinach and rocket, home-roasted plum tomatoes and grilled ficelle crouton" costing just £1.70.

Subsidised bars As Mr Cameron pointed out, in Parliament a pint of Fosters costs £2.10, about half what it costs in a normal London pub. Not only that but licensing laws do not apply in Parliament, where drink is sold without a licence.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer it can flesh out an existence
Life and Style
Every minute of every day, Twitter is awash with anger as we seek to let these organisations know precisely what we think of them
techWhen it comes to vitriol, no one on attracts our ire more than big businesses offering bad service
News
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
News
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
television
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
art
Sport
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
football
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
fashion
News
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
news
Sport
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Consultant - London - £65,000 OTE.

£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...

Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable