Fees make MP more than Commons salary

A SUFFOLK MP who is a member of David Cameron's government in waiting earns more money from three consultancies than he does from the Commons, the latest register of members' interests has revealed.

Graham Dines

A SUFFOLK MP who is a member of David Cameron's government in waiting earns more money from three consultancies than he does from the Commons, the latest register of members' interests has revealed.

David Ruffley, who has been Conservative MP for Bury St Edmunds since 1997, declares three consultancies on top of his day-to-day work on behalf of his constituents.

Mr Ruffley, a member of the shadow home affairs team as opposition spokesman on police reform, earns a basic MP's salary of �64,766.


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Shadow ministers receive no additional cash for being a member of Mr Cameron's frontbench team, and there are no restrictions on them holding outside posts. Mr Ruffley declares earnings of between �65,000 and �80,000 as an adviser to three private sector firms.

Following last Thursday's vote in the Commons on second jobs, MPs will have to declare for the first time how many hours they work outside Westminster, and for exactly how much money.

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Limited details of positions held outside the Commons are included in the Register of Members' Interests. But from July they will now be required to lay bare exactly how many hours they work, for whom and for how much money.

Mr Ruffley said he had always been open about his outside interests, and was one of the few MPs who declared how much money he earned. He welcomed the moves to force all MPs to inform the authorities how much they earned.

“I work more than 90 hours a week on my shadow responsibilities and on behalf of my constituents. Any outside interests are undertaken in my own time - they in no way impinge on my main duties.

“Consultancies, directorships and second jobs are not being outlawed. It is a tradition of parliament that MPs can have outside interests - from July 1, everyone will have to be transparent and that is as it should be.”

Richard Spring, the Conservative MP for Suffolk West, earns between �55,000 and �60,000 as chairman of the British Ukrainian Society. He also declares one strategic consultancy, but gives no indication of income although he will be required to do from July 1.

Two MPs with substantial interests are John Gummer (Suffolk Coastal) and Tim Yeo (Suffolk South). Mr Yeo is a director of four companies, a board member of a fifth, and a non-executive director of the company that owns Eurotunnel. Other income is derived from journalism.

Among Mr Gummer's activities are being chairman of two companies, a non-executive chairman of a third, and a non-executive chairman of a Moscow based property development company. He also generates �100,000 income from journalism for his environmental consultancy, which generates �30,000 in fees and dividends for himself.

However, the Labour MP for Ipswich Chris Mole, who has no second jobs or interests, said: “Being an MP is a full-time job.

“If MPs are working full-time on behalf of their constituents and have duties in the House, I am frankly staggered that they have any time left to devote to outside jobs.”

A spokesman for the TaxPayers' Alliance said: “There is nothing wrong with MPs knowing how life outside Westminster works, but all MPs must make sure that Parliament is their top priority.”

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