MPs' pay rise planned to prevent expenses rebellion

Downing Street plays down plan to raise salaries to limit anger over expenses measures

MPs are reportedly set to be offered a pay rise to prevent a rebellion over their expected loss of income from expenses.

Gordon Brown is planning to fund an increase in MPs' basic salary by cutting ministerial pay, according to a report in the Daily Telegraph. There is concern in Number 10 that MPs will reject next month's report by Sir Christopher Kelly, which is expected to recommend drastically scaling back the expenses and allowances they can claim.

Downing Street played down the Telegraph story and said Brown would not pre-empt the results of Kelly's review. A spokesman said: "We do not recognise the suggestion that the Prime Minister is advocating any specific proposals.

"He is eagerly awaiting the results of Sir Christopher Kelly's independent review, which will provide the basis for any future decisions."

MPs are currently paid £64,766, with the 98 members of the government earning between £96,000 and £197,000. A cut in ministerial pay of £20,000 would allow all 646 MPs to receive a £3,000 pay rise at no extra cost to the taxpayer.

Brown is determined to avoid further criticism from Labour MPs after widespread anger over Sir Thomas Legg's demands for expenses repayments.

The fact that MPs were ordered to pay back expenses originally approved by Commons officials led some to question the legality of Legg's demands.

But the Prime Minister may struggle to convince the public that MPs deserve a pay rise so soon after the expenses scandal and following the announcement of a public-sector pay freeze.