Tory MP wins praise for stand on pay rise

LETTERS of support and calls of congratulations were said to be pouring into the constituency office of Michael Bates after he resigned from his job as a ministerial aide, having voted against a 2.7 per cent pay increase for MPs.

'We have a pile of notes and letters and people have been coming in congratulating him,' Wendy Powell, Mr Bates's agent, said.

Mr Bates, the Tory MP for Langbaurgh in Cleveland, resigned as a Parliamentary Private Secretary to Nick Scott, the social security minister. It was an unpaid appointment, but Mr Bates intends to forgo his increase as an MP, either stopping it or giving it to charity.

A total of 42 MPs - 16 Tory MPs, six Liberal Democrats led by Paddy Ashdown, the party leader, 16 Labour MPs, and four Ulster Unionists - opposed the rises, which will give backbench MPs an extra pounds 16 a week next year. It will raise MPs' salaries to pounds 31,687 in January, and to pounds 32,536 in January 1995, a further 3.6 per cent rise.

The House voted 268 to 42 to re-establish the link for future years between MPs' pay and senior civil servants' salaries. An attempt by Frank Field, the Labour chairman of the social security select committee, to freeze MPs' pay, was defeated by 279 to 38.

The vote took place immediately after the chaos in the Commons caused by the government defeat in the Lords on rail privatisation.

As protests continued in the House, with MPs wearing a top hat to make points of order, William Waldegrave, the minister responsible for efficiency in public services, was dining with senior civil servants, including Sir Robin Butler, the Cabinet Secretary, to discuss the Government's approach to performance-related pay for permanent secretaries.

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