MPs have received almost £10m from second jobs and other work outside of Parliament during the Covid pandemic
NationalWorld can reveal for the first time the extent of money earned and time spent by MPs on other work
An exclusive in-depth analysis of the Register of Members’ Financial Interests dating back to January 2020 has for the first time revealed the extent of money earned and time spent by MPs on other work.
This comes amid criticism of the Government over the Owen Paterson lobbying scandal and calls for a ban on second jobs for MPs.
A poll carried out for NationalWorld found that more than two thirds of people think MPs should not be able to take on any work outside their role as parliamentarians.
No limit on outside earnings for MPs
Between January 2020 and August 2021, MPs received payments totalling at least £9,446,000 from a wide range of work, including media appearances, consultancy, local government, directorships, healthcare and more.
NationalWorld arrived at the figure by adding one-off earnings to prorated calculations for commitments MPs said spanned either part or all of the 20-month period.
While some MPs maintain one or more regular part-time roles on top of their parliamentary duties, others have earned varying amounts through one-off jobs, speeches or filling out surveys for polling companies like YouGov and IpsosMori.
A majority of MPs (57%) did not register any income at all from other work, but average earnings for those that did was £33,735. High earners pushed this average up, with median earnings coming in at £4,710.
Excluding MPs whose only outside income came from opinion surveys, one in three (33%, or 215) declared earnings during this period.
Conservative MPs earned a disproportionately high amount of the total, around 87%, despite having only 56% of MPs in Parliament.
Former prime minister Theresa May was the highest earner at £1,299,000, the bulk of which came through lucrative one-off speaking engagements which can pay upwards of £10,000 per hour – including for her preparation and travel time.
In her entry in the register of members’ financial interests, Mrs May states that these earnings help to "maintain [her] ongoing involvement in public life".
As a former prime minister, she is already entitled to claim back “incurred expenses for necessary office and secretarial costs arising from fulfilling public duties” up to £115,000 per year through the Public Duties Cost Allowance (PDCA).
Since 2019 she has claimed back £92,668 through the PDCA scheme.
NationalWorld has also previously reported that May called for international travel to resume in debates in Parliament having accepted more than £60,000 worth of hospitality from Heathrow airport.
Dozens of MPs maintain one or more consultancy jobs, maintaining close professional ties with businesses and often earning significant sums without any oversight on what their role entails.
Among them are many of the MPs who voted to stop Owen Paterson from facing sanction after a report by the parliamentary watchdog found that he had ‘egregiously’ broken the rules on paid lobbying on behalf of two firms through which he has earned more than £150,000 since January 2020.
‘No benefit for constituents’ from second jobs
Conservative MP Geoffrey Cox registered just under £900,000 income during the period through legal work as a QC, while John Redwood earned over £400,000 through investment banking and Andrew Mitchell £364,000 from business consultancy.
Redwood is the chairman of an investment fund based in the Cayman Islands, while Mitchell has seven different ‘second jobs’.
Despite previous recommendations from the Committee on Standards in Public Life, Transparency International and other organisations, there is no formal limit on the amount of work MPs can take on outside of Parliament.
Tom Brake, a former MP and director of Unlock Democracy, said in many cases there is “no benefit” to MPs taking on other work.
He said: “For most second jobs that MPs take up, the only interest is a financial one for them. There’s no benefit for their constituents from them holding a series of directorships or consultancies. In fact the opposite is true. MPs will have less time to spend on doing their full time job of representing their constituents and legislating”.
“My starting point is that MPs should be spending no time on doing outside things, unless they are clearly of benefit to their constituents or help them in their parliamentary work.
“But it is very difficult to see how for instance an MP, working for foreign companies as a consultant, promoting their interests, is of any benefit to that MP's constituents.”
How do MPs earn extra money?
In some cases the payments come from work which could be said to relate to the role of being an MP, such as writing newspaper articles or making media appearances.
There are also a small number of MPs who work in healthcare, as nurses or GPs, which enables them to keep their license to practice.
A significant number of MPs combine their work as a parliamentarian with local council roles, meaning they are able to claim a councillor allowance on top of their MP salary.
However, some MPs work a significant number of hours for businesses in a wide range of sectors, often in advisory or consultancy roles which pay more than their MP salary.
Though some MPs choose to donate a portion of these extra earnings directly to charity, the total amount donated was only £194,216, only 2% of total earnings.
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