Senior Tories Call for Big Increase in MPs' Wages; Pair Claim Current Salaries Are Not Enough to Attract Right Candidates
Byline: Gavin Cordon
THE row over MPs' expenses was reignited yesterday, after two senior Tories called for MPs to be given massive pay rises.
Sir Patrick Cormack, who was a candidate for Commons Speaker, said their salaries should be doubled - from pounds 64,766 to more than pounds 130,000 - in return for scrapping their controversial second homes allowances.
Fellow grandee Douglas Hogg - whose schedule of expenses famously included the cost of clearing the moat at his country home - also called for MPs to be given six-figure salaries with "appropriate expenses".
He said their pay had now fallen so low in both "absolute and relative terms", it was insufficient to support the lifestyle "to which most professional and business classes aspire".
Chancellor Alistair Darling - standing in for Gordon Brown while he is on holiday - said that such demands could not possibly be justified at a time when ordinary people were struggling.
"At a time when everyone else is pulling in their belts, at a time when people are worried about their jobs, some people are going part-time, MPs cannot be treated any differently from anyone else," he said.
The comments by the two MPs threaten once again to embarrass Tory leader David Cameron after he was forced last week to reprimand senior frontbencher Alan Duncan for suggesting MPs were living on "rations" in the wake of the expenses scandal.
Sir Patrick and Mr Hogg made their comments in submissions to the Committee on Standards in Public Life - which is holding an inquiry into the system of MPs expenses which have now been posted on the committee's website.
In his submission, Sir Patrick argued such a big pay rise may be seen as "politically unacceptable" but said that it would be the best way to clean up the system.
"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 for the allowance to pay for staff and a constituency office," he said. …