Page last updated at 09:14 GMT, Thursday, 20 August 2009 10:14 UK

Senior Tory wants MP pay doubled

Sir Patrick Cormack
Sir Patrick Cormack says he wants to restore public confidence

A senior Conservative has called for MPs' pay to be doubled - in return for scrapping their second home allowance.

Sir Patrick Cormack says MPs annual pay should increase from £64,766 to more than £130,000.

He was condemned as "out of touch" by Labour, while Lib Dem Foreign Affairs spokesman Ed Davey said the veteran Tory "must be living on Planet Zog".

But Sir Patrick said he was standing by the call, made in a submission to the Committee on Standards in Public Life.

The committee, chaired by Sir Christopher Kelly, is carrying out a full investigation of MPs pay and allowances and is due to report later this year.

In his submission, Sir Patrick acknowledges his proposal could be seen as "politically unacceptable".

'Restoring confidence'

But he insisted he had "reluctantly" concluded that it was the best way to restore public confidence in Parliament.

He says: "I have reluctantly become convinced, over the last few weeks, that the most effective way of restoring public confidence in Parliament is for there to be a significant increase in Members' salaries and an abolition of all allowances, save the allowance to pay for staff and a constituency office.

"In order to ensure that Members could perform their parliamentary and constituency duties effectively, and have, where necessary, a second home, the salary of Members would have to be doubled at least..."

It's outrageous and offensive for such a senior Conservative to propose doubling MPs' pay
Ed Davey, Lib Dem foreign affairs spokesman

The South Staffordshire MP, who entered Parliament in 1970, told BBC News: "I've submitted a detailed series of proposals to Sir Christopher Kelly and I am perfectly happy that they should be published.

"I made it plain in my submission that I had reluctantly come to the conclusion that the simplest and fairest way forward would be an abolition of the allowances and a commensurate increase in salary.

"This is not a propitious time for such a change and so I made a number of detailed proposals on the allowance front which would I believe go a long way to restoring public confidence. Foremost among these was that the second home should always be rented and generally in London."

Sir Patrick, who has twice stood for the job of Speaker, is a former deputy leader of the Commons and current chairman of the Northern Ireland Affairs select committee.

Last week, he publicly backed Tory frontbencher Alan Duncan, who was secretly filmed complaining MPs had to live on "rations", telling BBC Radio 4's The World at One: "We don't want a parliament of political anoraks and rich people."

Another Tory grandee, Douglas Hogg, whose expenses submission famously included the cost of clearing the moat at his country home, has also called for MPs to be given a six-figure salary - plus expenses.

'Outrageous'

In his evidence to the standards committee, he said the current MP's salary was "so low in absolute and relative terms" that members of the professional and business classes would be deterred from entering Parliament.

Tory leader David Cameron has said MPs have to demonstrate they understand public anger over the expenses issue and last week suggested ministers might have to take a pay cut if his party wins the next general election.

But the opposition has seized on the latest comments by Sir Patrick and Mr Hogg, claiming the party is "out of touch".

Chancellor Alistair Darling, who is standing in for Gordon Brown while the prime minister is on holiday, told BBC News: "At a time when everybody else is pulling in their belts, at a time when people are worried about their jobs and some people are going part-time, MPs can not be treated any differently from anyone else.

"So I don't agree with what he has got to say about that."

Ed Davey, for the Lib Dems, told the Evening Standard newspaper Sir Patrick "must be living on Planet Zog to think that doubling MPs' salary would restore public faith in Parliament".

He added: "While many people are struggling to make ends meet, it's outrageous and offensive for such a senior Conservative to propose doubling MPs' pay."



Print Sponsor


RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2013 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific