Three Sussex MPs have been branded "greedy" for trying to award themselves inflation-busting pay rises.

Peter Bottomley (West Worthing), Des Turner (Brighton Kemptown) and Tim Loughton (East Worthing and Shoreham) were among 155 MPs to defy critics and vote in favour of raising their pay by up to 2.3% this year and about 4.7% next year.

The backbench move came despite a Government plea for politicians to show wage restraint to protect the economy.

But the motion was defeated, with 196 MPs voting against.

Mark Wallace, of the Taxpayers' Alliance, said: "With tough economic conditions and with ordinary families struggling to make ends meet, it beggars belief that these MPs thought they should be given above-inflation pay rises."The rest of the public sector are rightly being asked to stick to 2% so why should these MPs be demanding more?

"When it comes to the next general election , voters will remember how their MPs voted as it is a good indicator of whether they understand the challenges facing ordinary people.

"It is exactly this kind of behaviour that makes MPs look greedy."

The House of Commons later decided without a vote on a 2.2% pay rise for this year and the next two years - in line with Prime Minister Gordon Brown's wish for MPs to opt for a below-inflation rise as an example to public sector workers.

Mr Brown and Chancellor Alistair Darling have repeatedly warned that big pay rises could trigger more inflation that could wipe out the value of any salary increases.

Labour MP Dr Turner defended his attempt to get a larger pay rise than police officers - who were forced to accept what was in effect a 1.9% rise this year - as well as teachers and nurses.

He told The Argus the larger salary boost would have been in line with the recommendations of two independent reports into MPs pay and said MPs had been deprived of receiving an appropriate salary for "donkeys years". He had simply tried to "redress the imbalance".

Dr Turner said: "We have fallen so far behind the people we are supposed to be compared with that the gap is enormous.

"There aren't many people who work the kind of hours we work - sometimes 80 a week - we are constantly at the public's beck and call, and we have to endure all sorts of criticism, some of it abusive."

The MP added: "There is not a great deal of job security and we can be out on our ears at an election."

Mr Bottomley, a former Conservative minister, said he believed MPs should be paid about the same as medical general practitioners - and yet GPs had seen their pay race ahead of politicians.

He told the Commons: "The idea that we are too weak or too feeble to actually set our own pay every now and again strikes me as wrong."

Mr Bottomley proposed that Parliamentary candidates should be asked to state how much they wanted to be paid on their election ballot papers alongside their party allegiance.

He said: "People can then judge whether we are worth it."

Mr Loughton was unavailable for comment yesterday.

The Commons also threw out a series of reforms of their expenses regime and defiantly held on to the "John Lewis list", which allows MPs to use taxpayers money to buy furniture and household goods for their second homes.

They also rejected calls for independent scrutiny of their allowances.

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