How do I find out if my MP has a second job?

·Political Correspondent - Yahoo News UK
·4 min read
File photo dated 23/7/2019 of the then Attorney General Geoffrey Cox arriving at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London where the new Conservative leader was to be announced. The MP for Torridge and West Devon has said he does not believe he has breached parliamentary rules after a video emerged appearing to show him undertaking external work from his Westminster office. Issue date: Wednesday November 10, 2021.
Former attorney general Sir Geoffrey Cox. (PA)

Following the recent Owen Paterson lobbying scandal, broader questions are being asked about the behaviour of the MPs elected to represent the public. 

Paterson worked for private companies over the course of several years, and was found to have broken lobbying rules in his capacity as an MP. 

He was sentenced to a 30-day suspension by parliament's independent standards watchdog, but the government sought to block the suspension and reform the watchdog to replace it with a committee of MPs with a Conservative majority. 

Boris Johnson was forced into a humbling U-turn after opposition parties boycotted it, and Paterson subsequently resigned. 

Since then, wider questions have been asked about the conduct of MPs and exactly what they get up to alongside their day jobs. 

How can I find out if my MP has a second job?

The register of financial interests provides the public with a resource to check how much money their MP is earning alongside their salary.

It is updated every two weeks, and MPs are required to disclose any changes in their financial interests within 28 days.

If your MP is a Conservative, they're far more likely to be working a second job than MPs from other parties - with around one in four Tory MPs earning cash outside of the £82,000 taxpayer funded salary.

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Are MPs allowed to have second jobs?

MPs who are not in ministerial positions are allowed to hold second jobs, with the logic being that it ensures that elected representatives also have real-life experience outside of politics. 

While the high profile stories recently have focused on lucrative roles like consultancy, some MPs have served as carers or doctors during the pandemic – like Labour MPs Nadia Whittome and Rosena Allin-Khan. 

In addition, an MP being a minister is technically a second job; the role of being a minister, who are first and foremost elected as MPs, comes with additional responsibilities on top of commitments to constituents. 

However, some MPs are holding time-consuming lucrative second jobs earning them tens of thousands of pounds a year, as well as creating potential conflicts of interest. 

What did Geoffrey Cox do?

Along with Paterson, Tory MP and former attorney general Sir Geoffrey Cox has become a poster-boy for the scandal.

Cox worked remotely as an MP during the pandemic, and earned £400,000-a-year alongside his £82,000-a-year MP salary. 

Cox has vehemently defended himself from criticism, insisting he got permissions from the Conservative party's whips office to vote on matters from the Caribbean, and that it is ultimately his constituents who should pass judgment on him. 

Why are second jobs a problem?

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown speaks to the crowds and competitors at the Scottish Coal Carrying Championships in Kelty in Fife. Picture date: Saturday August 28, 2021. (Photo by Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images)
Former prime minister Gordon Brown donated £1m in extra earnings to charity. (Getty Images)

There have been calls for reform after questions have been raised over how MPs would be able to carry out so many second jobs alongside their full-time jobs as MPs.  

Former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown called for a ban on MPs holding second jobs and said when he sat in parliament he donated £1m worth of extra earnings to charity. 

"What I’m talking about is using public office, being an MP, for private gain and for pushing private interests – that’s what’s got to be outlawed," he said.

“You can’t prevent an MP writing a newspaper article or giving a speech, but what you can do is say, where the private interest is at stake you cannot use your public office, whether you’re an MP or an ex-government minister, to advance a private cause.

“I do believe that, unless the prime minister takes a grip of this issue, this parliament will be remembered for the extent to which sleaze has (been) allowed to become a feature of British politics again.”

Who are the highest earners?

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - NOVEMBER 06: Theresa May speaks as ministers, businesses and activists discuss rainforests on day seven of COP26 at SECC on November 06, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland. Today COP26 will focus on ensuring the importance of nature and sustainable land use are part of global action on climate change and a clean, green recovery. The 2021 climate summit in Glasgow is the 26th
Former PM Theresa May has given multiple speeches to private companies. (Getty Images)

Cox, the MP for Torridge and West Devon, has earned £970,000 since the beginning of 2020 alongside his £82,000 a year as an MP, the work is registered as paid for by the law firm Withers for legal services.

Former prime minister and Tory MP for Maidenhead, Theresa May, also ranks among the highest earners. 

She racked up £760,000 for speeches and was paid over £11,000 to deliver speeches virtually during the pandemic.

Current health secretary and former chancellor Sajid Javid has made £245,000 since January 2020 by speaking at engagements for JPMorgan Chase and C3.

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