MPs push for vote on “unfair” police pay

MPs should be allowed to vote on police pay, the home secretary was told last night.

Keith Vaz, the chair of the home affairs select committee, pushed for Labour backbenchers to have their own say on the government’s decision not to backdate police pay.

Police officers are angered at Jacqui Smith’s pay offer of 1.9 per cent and are pushing for their full 2.5 per cent pay rise.

Ms Smith has maintained the government cannot afford above-inflation pay rises, repeating last night that a “pound spent on policing cannot be spent twice”.

Facing MPs during Home Office questions, Ms Smith said: “I had a responsibility to make a decision that was right for the police, for the affordability of policing and for the taxpayer as a whole.”

But 205 MPs have now signed a motion calling for Ms Smith to pay police their full pay award, including 109 Labour MPs.

Backbenchers Lindsay Hoyle hit out at the government last night, telling the Commons the decision was “unacceptable and “unpalatable”. Labour MP Andrew Mackinlay agreed the decision was “unfair”.

Mr Vaz is reportedly asking Conservative whips to use an opposition day debate to discuss police pay, in a move that risks embarrassing the government.

He asked Ms Smith last night: “Will you not put this matter before parliament for members to vote on as this is such an important issue and in the national interest?”

Conservative MP Patrick Mercer warned the decision was affecting police morale and challenged Ms Smith to join the frontline “to see exactly what the implications of this callous decision are.”

The home secretary is due to hold talks with the Police Federation tomorrow, while officers are preparing to hold protests outside the Home Office and in Ms Smith’s Redditch constituency.

Police Federation chairman Jan Berry tried to extend an “olive branch” to Ms Smith before Christmas, speculating the home secretary had been badly advised.

Her predecessors Charles Clarke and John Reid are reportedly surprised Ms Smith sought Alistair Darling’s permission before settling the award, a source told the Guardian.

Gordon Brown wants police officers to accept three-year pay awards, claiming this would bring stability for officers and the economy.