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David Cameron planning "big cuts" in pay for ministers in a Tory Government

Picture 1 The splash in today's Guardian announces that David Cameron is planning "significant" cuts to ministerial salaries if he forms a government after the next election.

After the negative coverage created by Alan Duncan's comments about MPs having to "live on rations" in the wake of Expenses-gate - coupled with the overall economic situation - this story emphasises the desire on the part of the party leadership that politicians bear their share of the burden when it comes to finding savings:

The Conservative party high command have calculated that if they are to push through cuts in public services, their politicians have to show they are prepared to "take a financial hit".

A pay cut would also help the party as it attempts to renegotiate public sector pay deals. One senior Tory said a cut as high as 25% was being discussed, which would cost figures such as William Hague and George Osborne nearly £20,000 a year.

If that figure were implemented, it would be to considerably outflank the suggestion previously made by Tim Montgomerie - who proposed here back March that there should be a 10% pay cut for ministers for the duration of the next Parliament.

Speaking on the Today programme this morming, shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said that there had not been a discussion to that effect in Shadow Cabinet, and that personally he hadn't thought about the matter.

But the Guardian piece suggests that there have been such discussions on the fringes, reporting that "senior members of the shadow cabinet have in recent weeks become alarmed at private warnings from their leader about the level of ministerial salaries they can expect if the party wins the next general election".

Quite apart from the need to lead the way in finding savings from the public purse, the reaction to Alan Duncan's secretly-filmed comments certainly suggests that public anger with MPs over their pay and allowances has not died down. As such, the proposals for cutting future ministers' pay are timely, although it should be emphasised that they do not constitute an official announcement, coming as they do merely from "senior sources".

David Cameron has already, however, made a commitment to reducing the number of MPs by 10%.

Jonathan Isaby


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