MPs could be banned from second jobs after Paterson sleaze scandal

MPs could be banned from second jobs after Paterson sleaze scandal

MPs could be banned from taking second jobs as political consultants as part of review of standards procedures in wake of Owen Paterson sleaze scandal

  • Commons speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle set to propose a review of Commons rules
  • It could tighten restrictions on MPs who do consultancy work outside parliament
  • It comes after Tory MP Owen Paterson quit this week amid his lobbying scandal
  • MPs get £82,931 per year but dozens take in tens of thousands more in other jobs

MPs could be banned from taking up positions as consultants outside their parliamentary duties after it emerged this week that Tory MP Owen Paterson had lobbied the government on behalf of two companies he worked for. 

Commons speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle is expected to put forward a proposal to review the House of Commons’ standards procedures which may prevent MPs for offering consulting services to earn extra cash amid today’s parliamentary debate over the Paterson scandal.

An investigation led by the standards commissioner Kathryn Stone said Paterson had broken Commons rules by lobbying for two firms that paid him £500,000, and he resigned from his position on Thursday after a botched plan concocted by the Prime Minister to block his suspension from Parliament buckled under a torrent of criticism. 

Despite his resignation, Paterson has vehemently denied any wrong-doing, saying he was acting in the public interest and protesting that the procedural route to the findings against him were against due process by not affording sufficient means of appeal.

Dozens of MPs are being paid tens of thousands of pounds a year to act as consultants and advisers for a range of companies, with some receiving many times their yearly parliamentary salary of £81,932 according to the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. 

There are no rules against MPs being paid for advising external businesses provided they record it in their register of interests, but they must not lobby the Government on behalf of those businesses.

Speaker of the House of Commons, MP Sir Lindsay Hoyle (pictured November 3, 2021 during PMQs) is considering a proposal to review the House of Commons’ standards procedures which may prevent MPs for offering consulting services to earn extra cash amid today’s parliamentary debate over the Paterson scandal

Owen Paterson resigned as the MP for North Shropshire on Thursday after a botched plan concocted by the Prime Minister to block his suspension from Parliament buckled under a torrent of criticism. Paterson was found guilty of lobbying the government on behalf of two firms who paid him £500,000 in an investigation led by standards commissioner Kathryn Stone

Prime Minister Boris Johnson concocted a plan to block the parliamentary suspension of Paterson who was found to have broken Commons’ rules on lobbying, but was forced into a humiliating U-turn amid public outcry at the decision

A survey carried out by the Daily Mail this week revealed that the majority of voters believe MPs should be ordered to give up lucrative second jobs outside Parliament – with claims of wrong-doing investigated by a High Court judge, not politicians themselves.

It comes after Boris Johnson government was labelled the ‘sleaziest’ in more than 40 years of British politics according to a Daily Mail poll.

Meanwhile, analysis of the Register of Members’ Financial Interests shows that 34 sitting MPs have listed payments from companies for whom they provide consulting work, with many of them receiving tens of thousands each year outside their parliamentary salary. 

Paterson, who is employed by diagnostics company Randox and sausage-maker Lynn’s Country Foods, is one of two MPs to be paid more than £100,000 per year for consultancy or advisory work.

He was found to have breached lobbying rules in favour of those firms in an investigation led by Kathryn Stone, and in what critics have characterised as an attempt to let Mr Paterson off the hook, the Government backed and won a vote on plans to tear up Parliament’s anti-sleaze rules on Wednesday. 

But the next morning, the Government was forced into a humiliating U-turn in the face a public outcry and anger among Tories, who had been forced to back the amendment.

With Boris Johnson’s support effectively withdrawn, Paterson quit what he described as ‘the cruel world of politics’ on Thursday.

The highest paid MP is former international development secretary Andrew Mitchell, who receives £182,600 per year for 32.5 days working for firms including investment companies Investec, SouthBridge and Kingsley Capital Partners, along with accountants Ernst & Young and consultants Montrose Associates.

Other MPs paid more than £100,000 per year for consulting work include former cabinet minister Chris Grayling, who is paid £100,000 annually by Hutchison Ports Europe, and Chief Whip Julian Smith, who receives a total of £144,000 per year from three companies.

Now, the parliamentary committee on standards, which rules on whether MPs have broken the code of conduct, is expected to discuss a proposal to review the rules by which MPs must abide.

It is understood several figures on the committee believe restrictions on outside interests – such as paid consultancy work – must be tightened further after Paterson was found to have committed an ‘egregious’ breach of the current rules on lobbying by Kathryn Stone’s investigation.

MPs are allowed to take on outside jobs but are banned from making representations that might benefit their employers for six months following the end of their work, while direct lobbying is banned altogether. 

Meanwhile, former Conservative Prime Minister Sir John Major this morning became the latest figure to hit out at the current government over the Paterson scandal.

In an extraordinary broadside, Major – who lead the government and the party from 1990 to 1997 – called the current cabinet’s behaviour ‘very un-Conservative’ and argued some of their actions have been ‘politically corrupt’.

‘There’s a general whiff of “we are the master’s now” about their behaviour and I think this is cutting through to the public,’ Major told the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme.  

‘It seems to be me as a lifelong conservative that much of what they are doing is very un-conservative in its behaviour,’ he added. 

Who are the MPs getting paid for consulting outside their parliamentary duties? 

This is a list MPs who have declared payments for consultancy or advisory work according to the Register for Members’ Financial Interests.

It does not include all second jobs listed by MPs, with some continuing to work as lawyers, doctors and nurses, while others are listed as directors of companies. 

The list is predominantly Tory MPs, apart from Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey.

Conor Burns

Trant Engineering, £40,000pa for 120 hours

Sir Graham Brady 

Snowshill Allied Holdings Ltd, £10,000pa for 12 hours

Andrew Bridgen

Mere Plantations Ltd, £12,000pa for 96 hours

Steve Brine

Remedium Partners, £19,200pa for 96 hours

Microlink PC (UK) Ltd, £19,200pa for 96 hours

Sigma, £19,992pa for 96 hours

Total £58,392pa for 288 hours

Alun Cairns

BBI Group (life sciences), £15,000pa for 70 hours

Veezu Holdings (private hire transport), £15,000pa for 70 hours

Elite Partners Capital Pte Ltd (property investment), £30,000pa for 84 hours

Total £60,000pa for 70 hours

Sir Ed Davey

Herbert Smith Freehills, political issues and policy analysis, £60,000pa for 72 hours

Next Energy Capital, member of advisory board, £18,000pa for 48 hours

Total £78,000 for 120 hours – money used to benefit Sir Ed’s disabled son

Philip Davies

National Pawnbroking Association, £12,000pa for 60-120 hours

David Davis

THI Holdings GmbH (German investment company), £33,900pa for 16 hours

Chairs supervisory board of Kohlgartenstrasse 15 Verwaltungs AG (German property company), £16,948pa for 168 hours

Total £50,848 for 184 hours

Sir Iain Duncan Smith

International advisory board of Tunstall Health Group, £20,000pa for 30 hours

Byotrol Technology Ltd, £25,000pa for 144 hours

Total £45,000pa for 174 hours

Ruth Edwards

MHR International ltd (HR software), £60,000pa for 192 hours

Ben Everitt

Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, £15,000pa for 60-80 hours

Richard Fuller

Investcorp Securities director, £20,000pa for 48 hours (plus additional £29,900 for 19 hours in 2021 so far)

Mark Garnier

Laser Light Communications (satellites), £60,000pa for 120 hours

Shetland Space Centre, £30,000pa for 120 hours

Total £90,000 for 240 hours

Chris Grayling

Hutchison Ports Europe, £100,000pa for 84 hours

Damian Green

Abellio Transport Holdings, on rail policy, £40,000 pa for 288 hours

Stephen Hammond

Darwin Alternative Investments, £60,000pa for 50-100 hours

Sir John Hayes

BB Energy Trading Ltd, £50,000pa for 80-90 hours

Daniel Kawczynski

The Electrum Group, £36,000pa for 360 hours

Sir Greg Knight

Cambridge and Counties Bank Ltd, £16,000pa for 108 hours

Andrew Lewer

Penelope Thornton Hotels, £4,800pa for 48 hours

Tim Loughton

Outcomes First Group, £37,000pa for 144 hours

Paul Maynard

Link Scheme Ltd (cash machines), £6,250pa for 32 hours – money paid direct to charity

Andrew Mitchell

Investec, £12,000pa for two days

Montrose Associates, £36,000pa for 8 days

Ernst & Young, £30,000pa for five days

Arch Emerging Partners, £15,000pa for 2.5 days

SouthBridge, adviser on African matters to Rwanda-based company, £39,600pa for 9 days

Kingsley Capital Partners, £50,000pa for 8 days plus share options

Total £182,600 for 34.5 days

Sir Robert Neill

Weightmans LLP, £15,000pa for 72 hours

Substantia Group, £12,000pa for 72 hours

Masonic Charitable Foundation, £7,500 for 10 hours (one-off payment)

Total £34,500 for 154 hours

Owen Paterson

Randox Laboratories, £99,996pa for 192 hours

Lynn’s Country Foods, £12,000pa for 24 hours

Total £111,996 for 216 hours

Andrew Percy

Iogen Corporation (Canada), a clean energy company, £36,000pa for 36 hours

Mark Pritchard

Consumer Credit Association, £18,000pa for 96 hours (a client of Mark Pritchard Advisory)

John Redwood

Epic Private Equity, £5,000pa for 12 hours

Laurence Robertson

Betting and Gaming Council, £24,000pa for 120 hours

Dean Russell

EPIFNY Consulting, £2,000 for 28 hours in 2021

Chris Skidmore

Oxford International Education Group, £10,000pa for 48-96 hours

Julian Smith

Ryse Hydrogen Ltd, £60,000pa for 20 hours

Simply Blue Management (UK) Ltd, £24,000pa for 12-24 hours

MJM Marine Ltd, £60,000pa for 30-40 hours

Total £144,000pa for 62-84 hours

Royston Smith

Barker Mill Estates, £18,000 for 90 hours since May 2020

Source: Register of Members’ Financial Interests / PA Media

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