The row over British Member of Parliament expenses has reignited after two senior Tories called for MPs to be given massive pay rises. Sir Patrick Cormack, who was a candidate for Commons Speaker, said their salaries should be doubled - from £64,766 to more than £130,000, in return for scrapping their controversial second homes allowances
Fellow grandee Douglas Hogg - whose schedule of expenses famously included the cost of clearing the moat at his country home - also called for MPs to be given six-figure salaries with appropriate expenses.
He said their pay had now fallen so low in both absolute and relative terms it was insufficient to support the lifestyle to which most professional and business classes aspire.
Chancellor Alistair Darling - standing in for Gordon Brown while he is on holiday - said that such demands could not possibly be justified at a time when ordinary people were struggling.
At a time when everyone else is pulling in their belts, at a time when people are worried about their jobs, some people are going part-time, MPs cannot be treated any differently from anyone else, he said.
The comments by the two MPs threaten once again to embarrass Tory leader David Cameron after he was forced last week to reprimand senior frontbencher Alan Duncan for suggesting MPs were living on rations in the wake of the expenses scandal.
Sir Patrick and Mr Hogg made their comments in submissions to the Committee on Standards in Public Life - which is holding an inquiry into the system of MPs expenses which have now been posted on the committee's website.
Liberal Democrat MP Edward Davey said it was outrageous and offensive for such a senior MP as Sir Patrick to propose a doubling of their pay.
He must be living on Planet Zog to think that doubling MPs' salaries would restore faith in Parliament, he said.