Labour's Jack Straw and Tory MP Sir Malcolm Rifkind
Jack Straw and Sir Malcolm Rifkind are caught up in a new "cash for access" scandalReuters

MPs should be paid a six-figure salary in a bid not to "exclude the middle class" from parliament and put their salaries in line with GPs and headteachers, according to an influential Tory.

Phillip Blond, director of the ResPublica thinktank, also told IBTimes UK he wants second jobs to be banned unless they pass a public interest test in the wake of the latest "cash for access" scandal.

"There are some aspects of earning outside of the wage that are perfectly legitimate like writing books and giving lectures," he said.

"We elect MPs because of what they believe and what they argue so we should let them believe and let them argue."

Blond, in exchange for the second job reform, would call for MPs to be given £100,000 ($154,110, €136,152) a year because they are "underpaid".

"Obviously they're not underpaid in relation to the average salary, but I don't think it's an average job," he argued.

"We have to recognise that MPs are at the top of the public sector pay scale. Their pay should be linked to the top GPs."

The Red Tory author added: "Unless you think that MPs are somehow not as important as GPs or as headteachers, I think reason would suggest they should have parity.

"I think parity is in the level of something like £100,000. If you offer MPs something like that and said you can't take second jobs, you would protect democracy and lower the barriers for professional people to enter parliament."

Blond cited 2011 research from the Hansard Society, which revealed the 2010 parliamentary intake had an average working week of 67 hours plus 10 hours of travel.

The study also found more than half of new MPs (56%) have taken a salary cut on becoming an MP, with almost a third (31%) taking a cut of £30,000 per year or more.

"What I fear is happening is that becoming an MP is the provenance of the rich – they're the only ones who can afford to do it," Blond said.

"Unless we want parliament to in effect exclude the middle class, what we have to do is ensure MPs' pay has parity with those in the public sector. In the private sector, a similar level of success would be paid far, far more."

'Cash for access' scandal

The comments come after Jack Straw and Sir Malcolm Rifkind were caught up in a fresh "cash for access" scandal.

The former foreign secretaries both referred themselves to the parliamentary commissioner for standards after they were alleged to offer their influence for money.

Straw suspended himself from Labour's parliamentary party, while the Tories suspended Rifkind after he met with Chief Whip Michael Gove and the party launched a disciplinary inquiry into the claims.

In reaction to the Daily Telegraph and Channel 4's Dispatches investigation, Rifkind said it was "unrealistic" for MPs to live off their basic salary of £67,060 a year.

"If you're trying to attract people of a business or a professional background to serve in the House of Commons, and if they're not ministers, it is quite unrealistic to believe they will go through their Parliamentary career being able to simply accept a salary of £60,000," the chair of Intelligence and Security Committee said.

"That sounds a lot to a lot of people earning less than that but the vast majority of people of a business or professional background earn far, far more than that.

"If they're told they have to choose one or the other they won't come to the House of Commons at all and Parliament will lose their skills."

Straw and Rifkind have both denied any wrongdoing and stressed that they have broken no rules.

Jack Straw and Sir Malcolm Rifkind
IBTimes UK