As millions of people struggled throughout the Covid pandemic, hundreds of MPs earned thousands of pounds from surplus work outside of parliament, an exclusive investigation by NationalWorld can reveal.
One in three MPs registered some form of outside income between January 2020 and August 2021, rising to 42.9% when including paid survey work.
But not all of these were regular commitments, or ‘second jobs’.
So how many MPs had second jobs during this period, how much time did they spend working outside of Parliament, and what did they earn?
How many MPs have second jobs?
According to the Register of Interests, 148 MPs spent some time on a ‘second job’ between January 2020 and August 2021.
Of this total, 114 Conservatives MPs and 20 Labour MPs had second jobs.
One Liberal Democrat MP and one from the DUP had second jobs, while 10 MPs from the SNP had additional income from other employment.
Despite only comprising 56% of MPs in parliament, Conservative MPs accumulated 87% of the additional money made.
How much did MPs make from second jobs?
Between the months January 2020 and August 2021, MPs accumulated at least £9,446,000 in total in additional income to supplement their base salaries, which average more than £80k.
These additional payments came from a vast range of work, varying from media appearances, to local government, consultancy, healthcare and more.
External work commitments totalled around 56,000 hours, equating to more than 7000 working-days during the pandemic.
Several MPs also received advances for book deals or collected royalties which had no time commitments attached.
Who earned the most from second jobs?
The single highest earner was former Prime Minister Theresa May, earning £1,299,000, a bulk of which came from one-off speeches, with a top payment of £160,370, for one speech.
Overall, she did 19 speeches, earning an average of £68,374 per speech.
Yet, second jobs are often equated to time commitments as well as big payments.
Overall, there were seven different roles which each had an hourly commitment of 1,000 hours during the 18 month period - the equivalent of more than 40 full days.
The MP with the largest number of outside commitments was Labour’s David Lammy, with 24 entries.
However, all but one were one-off speeches at various events, with the other an ongoing stint as a presenter on UK radio station, LBC. In total, he earned £76,521 over the 20-month period, or £292 per hour for 262 hours of work.
The busiest MP was Labour’s Dan Jarvis, who worked 2,413.7 hours over the period of 20 months, which is the equivalent to 27.8 hours per week, or just under four working days.
The vast majority of this time was spent on his role as mayor of the Sheffield City region, for which he has announced he will not seek re-election.
When counting only ongoing commitments, Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell was the one with the most irons in the fire.
Ongoing commitments are those that could be said to constitute a second job, and include: roles with an annual salary, payments for roles they undertake regularly such as legal work or medical shifts, positions on councils, and book advances.
The Sutton Coldfield representative had no fewer than seven ‘second jobs’ advising businesses during the 20-month period, including one firm with links to the Pandora Papers leak published last month. One role ended in February 2020.
He also received an advance for writing a book, bringing his total number of ongoing commitments to eight during that period. Across these roles plus three other one-off gigs, Mr Mitchell brought in £363,971.
What are the most popular second jobs?
With a majority of MPs, second jobs encompassed political work as councillors, with 39 MPs earning from council or mayoral positions.
Between them they had 46 unique roles, and from 22,071 hours they earned £678,550.
The most lucrative second jobs that brought in more than £100,000 encompassed one-off speeches, legal services and consulting, with Sir Geoffrey Cox earning £430,817 from one of his regular roles as a barrister.
Dozens of MPs are also paid to act as consultants to businesses or even lobbying groups.
However, a number of reports from the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) have recommended that the ban on paid political advocacy be extended to include all political consultancy and advisory roles.
The CSPL first recommended a ban on all political consultancy and advisory work in a 2009 report which was put together in the wake of the expenses scandal, then again in a 2018 report titled MPs’ Outside Interests and most recently a Upholding Standards in Public Life report, which was released on 1 November 2021.
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