David Cameron says he wants to cut the cost of government
David Cameron has warned top Tories they will have to make sacrifices if they win the next general election.
The Tory leader refused to comment directly on a report in The Guardian that ministerial pay could be cut by up to 25% under a Tory administration.
But he told the BBC ministers would have to "take a lead" in bringing down the overall cost of government.
Mr Cameron faced calls this week to sack shadow cabinet member Alan Duncan who said MPs were "living on rations".
Mr Duncan apologised after he was secretly filmed saying no "capable" person would want to enter Parliament because of the way MPs were being treated in the wake of the expenses scandal.
But his complaints about pay and conditions are thought to be held by MPs in all parties - and any move to cut salaries would not go down well with senior Conservatives, who are already being forced to give up their second jobs by Mr Cameron to prepare for the next election.
But according to The Guardian, the Tory leader believes ministers will have to show they are prepared to take a financial hit if they are to push through unpopular spending cuts needed to rebuild the public finances.
The newspaper quotes one senior Tory as saying reductions of up to 25% were being considered - wiping almost £20,000 off the pay of senior ministers.
At the moment, Cabinet ministers get £79,754 in ministerial pay on top of their MP's salary of £64,766, giving them a total annual salary of £144,520.
If Mr Cameron were to cut their ministerial entitlement by a quarter, members of the Cabinet would get a total of £124,581.50.
Speaking in his Oxfordshire constituency, Mr Cameron said: "Clearly, if we are going to ask the country to undertake a programme of reducing some parts of public spending and getting our finances in order and getting the budget deficit down, we need to show that everyone is going to share in that work, including government and including politicians.
"I want to make sure that politics costs us less in Britain and I would make sure that my government would take a lead in that if we were fortunate enough to be elected."
Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said the proposals outlined in The Guardian were further evidence of a "two-faced" Conservative Party.
Speaking at an investment announcement at plane manufacture Airbus' plant in Filton, Bristol, he said: "The Labour government has already capped ministers' pay by not taking the increases that were awarded to us.
"We've already done what David Cameron is saying he believes in. If he ever has the chance to do it in practice, we shall see if he means what he says."
Lord Mandelson said "judging by comments" made earlier this week by Mr Duncan, the Conservative Party's private and public opinions were very different.
He said: "It's yet again another example of the two faces of the Conservative Party."