The deputy leader of Birmingham City Council's Liberal Democrat group last night refused to accept a £5,500 special responsibility allowance, insisting that he did not want to "milk the system".

Tariq Ayoub Khan said he would not accept the recommendation of an independent remuneration panel, which proposed the annual payment as part of a shake-up in council salaries and allowances.

Coun Khan (Lib Dem Washwood Heath) said: "I did not come into politics for the money.

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"I have a very good job with a pharmaceutical company and I do not need this allowance. It would be wrong to accept it.

"All I want to do is concentrate on serving the people of Washwood Heath, not milk the system."

Remuneration panel chairman Ray Way had proposed paying Coun Khan the allowance in recognition of the work he has to perform as deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats - the junior party in the council's ruling Conservative-Lib Dem coalition.

Mr Way said it was unfair that Councillor Ian Ward, the deputy leader of the opposition Labour group, should receive a £5,500 allowance when Coun Khan did not.

Mr Way's proposal did not receive widespread support in the chamber.

Sir Albert Bore, leader of the Labour group, said it would be wrong to pay an allowance in respect of Coun Khan's "party political duties".

Sir Albert (Lab Ladywood) added: "I don't know what the constitutional role is of the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrat group as far as the activities of the council is concerned.

"This is not an attack on any individual but a matter of principle."

The council accepted the remuneration panel's recommendation that the standard allowance for all councillors should rise by 4.8 per cent, to £15,148. Special responsibility allowances, paid to cabinet members, scrutiny chair-men and the leaders of opposition parties, will rise by five per cent.

The decision means that the annual salary of council leader Mike Whitby will rise to £67,000 and that of his deputy, Paul Tilsley, to £54,000.

"We have tried to strike a balance between the public service ethic and the financial losses councillors incur through carrying out their role," Mr Way added.

The devolution of council services to district committees was reflected in the remuneration panel's report.

Mr Way said he was recommending that chairmen of the 11 district committees should, for the first time, receive a £2,187 special responsibility allow-ance in recognition of their extra duties.