Conservative Diary

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Conservative MPs prepare for second jobs scrutiny

A feature in Scotland's Herald newspaper previews what might be the next controversy to engulf MPs; the extent of outside interests.  The Herald's Michael Settle notes estimates "that around two-thirds of Tories, more than one-third of Liberal Democrats and one-fifth of Labour members have second paid jobs."

He goes on to list some of the better known Conservative MPs with significant outside interests:

  • RIFKIND NEW "Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the former Conservative Foreign Secretary and MP for Kensington and Chelsea, has three paid directorships and two paid advisory roles. His journalistic work has also brought in up to £50,000.
  • Tony Baldry, the Conservative MP for Banbury near Oxford and a minister in the John Major government, has in the past year had no fewer than eight paid directorships and also derives income from working as a barrister and two other business roles.
  • Tory colleague John Gummer, the Suffolk MP and former Environment Secretary, has seven paid directorships - from water companies to a Moscow-based investment company.
  • Michael Howard, former Conservative leader, has five paid directorships and two paid advisory roles, covering such matters as communications, mining and racecourses.
  • HAGUE WILLIAM NW William Hague, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, who in the past has earned more than £1m a year from speeches and media work, is reducing such extra-parliamentary activity. However, his entry shows he has two paid directorships, has earned up to £50,000 as a parliamentary adviser to JCB and received up to £20,000 in another advisory role.
  • Ken Clarke, the Shadow Business Secretary, has a paid directorship and a paid advisory role, has presented jazz programmes for the BBC and earned up to £45,000 from after-dinner speeches.
  • GOVE MICHAEL NW Michael Gove, the Shadow Schools Secretary, has earned up to £100,000 from his articles and broadcasts and has an undisclosed book contract to write a "historical biography"."  He writes about bladders and nature's call for today's Times.

On Platform last week Howard Flight warned against prohibiting MPs from pursuing outside interests:

"Most MPs ought to be capable of earning a separate income in the first part of the day, while also thereafter discharging their parliamentary and constituency responsibilities conscientiously. The House of Commons was more representative of the economic life of the nation fifty years ago, when a majority of MPs had some other career activity involving them in the real world."

Paul Goodman MP cited crackdowns on 'second jobs' as part of his explanation for leaving the Commons at the next General Election:

"The representation of interests came to be seen as outmoded at best and corrupt at worst.  Restrictions on MPs outside earnings were imposed.  Relatively swiftly, they became largely dependent on the taxpayer – and therefore, increasingly, professional politicians rather than elected representatives: a “political class” different to and therefore separate from those who elected them."

Tim Montgomerie


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