Cameron plans to cut ministers' salaries

LONDON Tue Sep 8, 2009 2:48pm BST

Conservative Party Leader David Cameron listens as shadow Chancellor George Osborne delivers a speech on the economy in London July 20, 2009. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Conservative Party Leader David Cameron listens as shadow Chancellor George Osborne delivers a speech on the economy in London July 20, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Stefan Wermuth

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LONDON (Reuters) - Salaries for MPs will be cut by five percent and then frozen if the Conservatives win the next election, leader David Cameron said on Tuesday.

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 pounds -- more than 12 percent of GDP.

They are designed to trim 120 million pounds a year from the 500 million pound cost of running the parliament in Westminster.

"That figure may seem trifling when we have a budget deficit of 175 billion pounds," 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.

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 on Tuesday 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 pounds for the prime minister and 4,000 pounds for senior members of the government. Their pay would be frozen for the lifetime of the next parliament -- up to five years.

The Conservative leader on Monday demoted Alan Duncan from his shadow government team. Duncan had complained that MPs "were forced to live on rations" following public anger over expenses claims for everything from dog food to moat-cleaning.

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