MPs speak out on 66pc pay claim

MPs could be in for a happy New Year if a 66pc pay rise suggested by a group of backbenchers is approved. The rise would take MPs salaries to almost £100,000 from their current £60,277. While many workers are being asked to accept wage rises of around 2.

MPs could be in for a happy New Year if a 66pc pay rise suggested by a group of backbenchers is approved.

The rise would take MPs' salaries to almost £100,000 from their current £60,277.

While many workers are being asked to accept wage rises of around 2.5 per cent based on the rate of inflation, the group of backbenchers have slammed in their demands saying they are worth every penny.

The request will now be considered by the Senior Salaries Review Board (SSRB) but it has already caused a furore in the House of Commons with Chancellor Gordon Brown saying in private that he will block any such hefty rise.

Tory MPs in Comet country have said they would be happy to accept the SSRB recommendations - but only Stevenage Labour MP Barbara Follett said she would be uncomfortable with such a large rise in the current economic climate.

"Our pay is not performance related and such rises must be justified and I am sure the public would be unhappy with any large increase in MPs salaries," said Mrs Follett, wife of best-selling author Ken Follett.

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"I will certainly not be writing to urge for more money and I don't think it is acceptable in the current economic climate.

"Companies are facing cuts and job losses and we can't have a big round of spending by MPs because these costs are passed on to the public.

"I work very hard and it is not about money but my work for the community. I'm fine thanks to my husband and would not support this move for such a large pay rise."

Oliver Heald, MP for Hertfordshire North East, Alistair Burt MP for North East Bedfordshire, Nadine Dorries MP for Mid Beds and Peter Lilley MP for Hitchin said they would abide by the SSRB decision.

Mr Heald said: "The SSRB advises every three years on the pay and rates based on comparisons such as what the MD of a small firm and the head of a secondary school earn.

"Often the recommendations become very contentious in the media and are therefore not followed. I expect to support what the SSRB suggest."

Mrs Dorries said: "Whatever decision is made by the SSRB I will respect. I do believe that the overwhelming majority of MPs work very hard with an average working week in excess of 70 hours."

Peter Lilley said: "The independent salary review body make recommendations from time to time and I am content to abide by them.

"They have a difficult task of setting pay levels such that people of the right calibre can afford to apply to become MPs.

"For me being an MP is a vocation so I am relatively insensitive to pay levels. I gave up another job 20 years ago which earned more than I currently earn as an MP. But for other people with greater family responsibilities it is hard to abandon a well paid career to serve as an MP."

Alistair Burt said: "I have never complained about my salary. In the past I have voted to turn down and accept increases. There is little doubt our salaries have fallen behind but equally there is no shortage of people wanting to do my job.

"I would prefer that an independent body like the SSRB came to a decision which was accepted.

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