Page last updated at 20:28 GMT, Tuesday, 21 February 2012

MPs condemn 'unacceptable' EU pay rise

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MPs have branded a planned 1.7% pay rise for European Union staff "completely unacceptable".

Members agreed to accept a government motion on 21 February 2012 condemning the European Commission's decision to increase the wages of staff working at the various EU institutions.

Opening the debate, Economic Secretary Chloe Smith said the rise in the wage bill was evidence of the European Commission's "estrangement from reality".

Ms Smith told MPs that Whitehall departments were having administrative budgets slashed by 34% and that the EU should "show a similar drive to finding efficiency savings".

"Any suggestion of waste in the EU budget damages the standing of the EU institutions and of the EU as a whole," she said.

Shadow Treasury minister Cathy Jamieson criticised David Cameron for not building up alliances in Europe, claiming this prevented the UK from playing a key role when issues such as remuneration were discussed.

Tory MP Bill Cash, who chairs the European Scrutiny Committee, claimed many EU bureaucrats lived in "a cloud cuckoo land" where they voted through ever increasing salaries without paying any attention to what was happening in member states.

Meanwhile, fellow Conservative Bob Stewart highlighted the "huge" public anger about the issue of civil service pay.

"I just don't understand why other countries in Europe aren't as angry as we are about this suggestion of increasing salaries," he said.

Winding up, Ms Smith said the government would lobby for EU staff savings through cutting workers' allowances, reducing the cost of pensions and changing the overall pay system.

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