SALARIES for MPs will be cut by 5% and then frozen if the Conservatives win the next British election, leader David Cameron said yesterday.
Subsidises for beer and food served in the bars and restaurants in parliament will also be off the menu if Cameron, as expected, wins a national election due by next June.
Cameron said his proposals were in response to public anger over lavish expenses claimed by MPs and a huge state budget deficit of £175 billion – more than 12% of GDP.
They are designed to trim £120m year from the £500m cost of running the parliament in Westminster.
“That figure may seem trifling when we have a budget deficit of £175bn,” Cameron said, adding that it was up to the government to set an example in an era of public spending cuts.
“The country is in a debt crisis. We must all now come together, play our part. And that starts at the very top – with politicians cutting the cost of politics,” he said in a speech in London.
“With the Conservatives, the gravy train will well and truly hit the buffers,” he said.
Restoring order to public finances will be a central theme in the run-up to an election in which the Conservatives are tipped to return to power for the first time since 1997.
Chancellor Alistair Darling said yesterday that Britain will need to cut spending when the economy fully recovers, without spelling out exactly where the axe would fall.
Cameron said spending cuts should kick in from next year and a spending rise planned by Labour was unaffordable.
However, he too has yet to say where he would make substantive savings.
The Conservative leader said his government would seek to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 585 to help cut costs, a move that would mean redrawing constituency boundaries.
Cameron, who attended the elite Eton private school and married into a wealthy family, said his proposals would mean a pay cut of £6,500 for the prime minister and £4,000 for senior members of the government. Their pay would be frozen for the lifetime of the next parliament – up to five years.
Cameron said ministerial cars were sometimes “vital”, but the number should be reduced by a third. On Monday, Cameron demoted Alan Duncan from his shadow government team. Duncan had complained that MPs “were forced to live on rations” following public anger over expenses.
Cameron’s intervention seemed designed to trump Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who last week signalled his willingness to take a pay cut – but only if it was co-ordinated across parties.
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