The government is considering closing the existing loophole in the minimum wage that allows restaurants to use tips to make up staff pay. Following mounting pressure from various fair tips campaigns, a spokesperson for the Prime Minister said that the government wanted to make the tipping system fairer and more transparent. Gordon Brown's spokesman said: “The government believes we should make tipping fairer and more transparent. We are looking carefully at the options and hope to make an announcement shortly. "This is a complex area but the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform is looking at it.” Ian McCartney, a former labour minister, told The Independent that the government had made a deal with restaurateurs in order to get a consensus over the minimum wage, allowing them to make up the NMW through customer service charges. His call for the loophole to be closed was also backed by top chefs including Marco Pierre White, Antony Worrall Thompson and Giorgio Locatelli, who all said that tips should be given to staff. Derek Bulmer, the editor of Britain’s Michelin Guide said that he was looking into including the tipping policy of every restaurant in future editions. A spokesperson for the British Hospitality Association (BHA) said that the issue was a complex one and that as long as restaurants operated within the law it did not believe that it was an unfair system. The trade body said that individual operator practices were based on multiple legal requirements, which included complying with European Human Rights Law, National Minimum Wage legislation, National Insurance regulations and VAT law. The BHA warned that changes to the law could end up leaving staff worse off. Graham Turner, chief executive of Tragus, whose restaurant brands Café Rouge and Strada were among some of the leading chains blacklisted for using service charges for making up employee wages, responded to the criticism. Turner said: “All our staff earn over the minimum wage with cash tips going to the individual and credit card tips and service charges divided amongst staff through the payroll system. “Credit card tips and service charge that are divided amongst staff through the payroll system count towards earnings for the purpose of the national minimum wage. "All staff earn at least National Minimum Wage with most earning well in excess of National Minimum Wage.”