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The BBC's Mark Mardell
"The Prime Minister did not mention his salary increases by 40 per cent, on his campaign trail"
 real 56k

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, John Reid
"An independent body decided that this should be the level of pay"
 real 28k

General Secretary of the TUC, John Monks
"What's good for the cabinet... is good for other groups as well"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 12 June, 2001, 17:19 GMT 18:19 UK
Blair under fire over pay
Tony Blair
Mr Blair's pay rise has angered unions
Prime Minister Tony Blair's decision to take his full pay for the first time - boosting his salary by 40% - and allow his cabinet increased entitlements, has been widely criticised.

Unions and opposition politicians have lined up to accuse the Labour government of hypocrisy, but ministers have defended the move.

Annual salaries
Prime minister - 163,000
Vodafone chief exec - 837, 000
BP chief executive - 815,232
Secondary head - up to 78,800
Leading barrister - 150-200,000
Hospital consultant 66,000
Council chief executive - up to 120,000
The prime minister's salary has been increased by about 50,000, to 163,000 a year - in line with the recommendations of the independent Senior Salaries Review Board.

The pay of cabinet ministers will rise from about 100,000 to 118,000 a year, after being held down last year.

Even the pro-Blair Mirror newspaper criticised Mr Blair's 40% pay rise.

Experts at Incomes Data Services say the prime minister's salary is far below those commanded by top UK company chief executives.

Their figures show the chief executive of the UK's largest company - Vodafone - receives a basic salary of 837,000.

It was hypocritical to hold down pay levels until after the election

Malcolm Bruce
Liberal Democrats
Mr Blair's wife, the barrister Cherie Booth, is thought to earn between 150,000 and 200,000 a year, although that will depend on how many days she works.

Labour 'arrogance'

Conservative Party chairman Michael Ancram said: "So much for the humility promised by the prime minister at the start of the recent election campaign.

"Once elected, it is back to the old arrogance."

Malcolm Bruce, chairman of the Lib Dem parliamentary party, said it was "hypocritical" to hold down pay levels until after the election.

Keith Vaz
Mr Vaz departed as expected
He added: "Does this imply that the prime minister thought he wasn't up for the job in the last parliament or that winning the lowest share of the popular vote in history now justifies a pay rise?"

Unions are furious that Labour has made the decision after continually preaching restraint on public sector pay.

Ministerial reshuffle

Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, added: "I do not begrudge the government a pay rise, but the timing has to be regarded as extremely cynical, coming so soon after the general election.

"It is obviously one rule for politicians and another for teachers and nurses."

But Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid stressed the salary levels were decided by an independent body four years ago and since then cabinet ministers together had not taken 2.5m of their entitlement.

"I'm just asking, is it grounds for criticism to have foregone pay rises for four years?

"Would it have been better for us just to have accepted it in 1997, or is it something that no British cabinet should ever get a pay increase in the future?"

Pay distortion

The Senior Salaries Review Board recommended in March that cabinet ministers should take their full salaries.

It argued that their decision not to draw their full pay was creating a "distortion" in the parliamentary pay system.

The salary move came after Mr Blair made sweeping changes to his junior ministerial team on Monday, with 22 ministers returning to the backbenches and several members of the class of '97 given their spurs.

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