The head of the parliamentary body tasked with setting the rules for MPs around ‘second jobs’ has earned almost £37,000 from outside work during the pandemic.
This comes as NationalWorld reveals the true extent of work carried out by MPs outside parliament, at almost £10m between January 2020 and August 2021, mostly earned by Conservative MPs.
Chris Bryant is the chair of the Committee on Standards, which has yet to act on recommendations from the Committee on Standards in Public Life to the MPs’ code of conduct relating to work outside of Parliament.
‘Impossible to calculate’ time spent writing
Bryant, the Labour MP for Rhondda, earned £36,871 from work outside of Parliament between January 2020 and 31 August 2021.
The majority of his earnings have come through publishing, with the former deputy leader of the house receiving payments related to two book deals since January 2020, with accompanying audiobook and television rights.
For the first book advance, of £8,200, Bryant listed his associated time commitment as being “impossible to calculate” in the register of members’ financial interests, while for the next advance payment, £11,070, he registered 100 hours.
Bryant has also been paid to write articles for the Telegraph and Daily Express, plus a number of magazines, and was paid £2,000 to deliver a webinar in March 2021.
The remainder of Bryant’s income from work outside of Parliament came from a presenting job with LBC Radio, a podcast appearance and a paid opinion survey for Ipsos MORI, at £275 for one hour and 15 minutes in July 2021.
What is the Committee on Standards?
A number of different bodies are involved in one way or another with administering the rules relating to MPs’ conduct, resulting in a sometimes confusing overlap of responsibilities.
The Committee on Standards is a parliamentary select committee, made up of MPs and experts, which is responsible for recommending changes to the code of conduct, as well as overseeing the work of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.
The committee has yet to act on recommendations made by the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) in a 2018 report, titled ‘MPs’ Outside Interests’, which itself noted that recommendations made in a 2009 report “have not been acted on in full by Parliament, MPs, nor government departments”.
A review of the MPs code of conduct by the standards committee is underway, and it is thought this will address some of the previous recommendations.
Lord Evans, chair of the CSPL, has said that “extensive outside employment undermines trust in Parliament and parliamentarians,” and recommended a ban on MPs providing services “as a parliamentary strategist, adviser or consultant” – which several MPs currently do.
The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards is an independent officer of the House of Commons, responsible for overseeing the register of members’ financial interests and the code of conduct, and advising the standards committee about issues relating to the code.
Chris Bryant MP is yet to respond to a request for comment on this article.
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