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Brown Backs Down On U.k. Lawmaker Pensions As Authority Wanes

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June 25 (Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Gordon Brown backed down on a plan to increase taxpayer funding for the pensions of British lawmakers on the eve of a vote in the House of Commons, an indication that his authority is slipping away.

A spokesman for Brown said last night that his Labour government would not stand in the way of opposition calls to freeze the pension at last year’s level. Hours earlier, his office defended the proposal to increase the Treasury’s contribution to the pension funds by 7 percent.

The plan stoked opposition following disclosures that lawmakers claimed expenses for items ranging from pornographic films to the costs of clearing a moat. Companies are cutting back on pensions for their own employees amid the worst recession since World War II. Brown, behind in opinion polls, couldn’t risk a rebellion on the issue.

“This was an extremely ill-judged measure in the light of what’s happening to everyone else’s pensions,†said Steven Fielding, director of the Center for British Politics. “The government is proposing stuff and then backing off the moment it’s exposed. It magnifies the perception that they lack leadership and try to get things through on the quiet.â€

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