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Veteran Tory Sir Peter Bottomley has spoken of the “grim” struggle of living on an MP’s £81,932 salary.
Sir Peter’s comment raised eyebrows on the day Universal Credit has been cut for the most vulnerable living in poverty.
The Commons Father of the House, 77, who represents Worthing West, said many of his colleagues were finding their situation “desperately difficult”.
He believes MPs should be paid the same amount as GPs – whose average salary in England is £100,700. The average UK wage is £31,461.
Sir Peter told the New Statesman: “I take the view that being an MP is the greatest honour you could have, but a general practitioner in politics ought to be paid roughly the same as a general practitioner in medicine.
“Doctors are paid far too little nowadays.
“But if they would get roughly £100,000 a year, the equivalent for an MP to get the same standard of living would be £110-£115,000 a year – it’s never the right time, but if your MP isn’t worth the money, it’s better to change the MP than to change the money.”
Although Sir Peter - who has been in the Commons since 1975 and is its longest serving MP - said he is currently not struggling financially, he believes the situation is “desperate” for newer colleagues.
He added: “I don’t know how they manage. It’s really grim.”
Sir Peter almost considered stepping down as an MP in 1982.
His wife Virginia gave up most of her paid work to run as a candidate on the Isle of Wight when they had two children to look after.
He recalled: “MPs’ pay was low, and I wasn’t going to go either broke or crooked to keep going.”
When asked what kept him in the Commons, Sir Peter said: “I’m still an MP because I’m still alive and people vote for me.”
Removing the £20-a-week Universal Credit uplift has been widely opposed by charities, unions, think tanks and leaders from across the political spectrum.
The Government has said the uplift was always intended to be temporary, has helped claimants through the toughest stages of the pandemic and it is right to focus on its jobs plan.