Increasing gender equality on the boards of the UK’s biggest firms would help address the issue of pay packets seen as excessive by many in times of economic turmoil, the prime minister has said.

Responding to calls from Labour leader Ed Miliband to take specific action against boardroom excesses at last weeks Prime Minister’s Questions, David Cameron said that introducing more diversity could help address the issue.

The prime minister said that he wanted to see “much more transparency about the levels of pay, much more accountability, and strengthening the hand of shareholders”.

He then added: “There is something else we need to do, which is to make sure non-executive directors on boards are not the usual sort of rotating list of men patting each other’s backs and increasing the level of remuneration.

“I want to see more women in Britain’s boardrooms, which I think would have a thoroughly good influence.”

Mr Cameron’s comments follow a report published last week which revealed pay for the directors of FTSE 100 companies rose by 49 per cent over the past year, despite the UK’s weak economic growth, rising unemployment and squeezed household incomes.

The figures, from the Incomes Data Services, showed that this took the average directors’ pay to just short of £2.7 million, while FTSE 100 chief executives saw their overall income increase by 43 per cent over the same period.

Meanwhile, a meeting of women in boardrooms is taking place today hosted by Lord Davies as part of his drive to increase female representation.

Earlier this year, Lord Davies published a report on gender equality in boardrooms which called on FTSE 100 firms to aim for a minimum of 25 per cent female board representation by 2015 as well as fully disclose the number of women on their boards and in their organisations as a whole.