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MPs’ earnings

April 17th, 2007 · Posted by Skuds in Politics · 10 Comments · Politics

I have been reading the latest register of MP’s interests, and some of the resulting stories in national and local papers, and I am confused. The register lists interests but does not quantify all of them, and yet the papers are able to say how much individual MPs are earning from extra-curricular jobs.

How do they do that?

For speeches and TV appearances there is an indication of the range a payment was in (eg £10,001 to £15,000). The highest earner is said to be William Hague: do the papers add up his 22 lots of earning from speeches etc. and assume they were all top of the range or bottom, or ust take an average? Remunerated directorships are listed, but with no indication at all of the level of remuneration. I suppose you can get that from the companies’ accounts if you dig hard enough. Gifts, sponsorship, shares and trips abroad are all listed but not valued.

It seems to me like it must be 90% guesswork to say how much an MP earns from outside interests and yet all the papers seem to come up with the same guess.

Its quite astonishing reading really, to see how many directorships some of them can clock up. From working with our own MP I know that the basic job can easily take up most of the weekdays, well into the evening, with any free time being nights and weekends – and most of the weekends are taken up with attending various local functions. If they can manage to be directors of one or more companies they have to be either short-changing their constituents or their shareholders unless… unless being a non-executive director really does involve no work at all. How do you get that gig?

A lot of the criticism, implied and overt, seems to be aimed at earnings from newspaper columns, but I can’t see the problem with that. I don’t expect an MP to work every single hour. They have to have some leisure time, and if their idea of leisure is to write and some paper is foolish enough to pay them for it, thats fair enough. And I don’t think it presents as much of a conflict of interests as being on the board of some property or defence company.

It almost goes without saying that our local Sussex Tories are the ones lining up directorships, while the Liberal and Labour MPs just have the odd working trip somewhere. No wonder Henry Smith and Mike Weatherly are champing at the bit… the £60K salary is small change compared to the fringe benefits they can line up.

But despite all that, the figure which, in my opinion, takes the prize for most shocking is George Galloway’s estimated £300,000 of extra income and the huge list of radio shows, TV shows and books which generate it. The first question is how he finds the time to represent the people of Bethnal Green and Bow at all, but the big question is how he can square it with his party’s principles.

I have chatted with the bloke who stood for the Democratic Socialist Alliance in Crawley, and he made a great deal about the fact that , if elected, he would only draw a worker’s wage and not the full MP’s salary. An easy promise to make when you don’t stand a chance, but I got the feeling he was sincere and would have actually done that. (Much as I respect the intention I know I would not have the willpower to do that myself) Respect has much the same rhetoric, and yet their most high-profile member is quite happy to say he represents the working classes while demonstrating an inability to get by on at least three times what they earn on average. Hardly what you would call solidarity is it?

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10 Comments so far ↓

  • skud's sister

    I have a friend who, about 5-6 years ago, was persuaded by her employers to become a director in the companies they owned. This amounted to about 12 directorships (she refused to have anything to do with financial directships) and she received the princely sum of £1000 a year for this. That is a total of £1000, not per directorship…. Not always as well paid as you’d think!

  • Danivon

    Don’t all companies which have shareholders have to disclosed directors’ salaries?

    So it would be a matter of checking Annual Accounts to find out how much MPs are supplementing their earnings by in these cases.

  • Skuds

    Well of course. A couple of years ago I was a director myself – one meeting every month or two with a total reward of absolutely nothing.

    Your friend and I must have been directors of the wrong companies (or charity in my case) becasue I did a little bit of digging into Francis Maude, who is geographically closest to Crawley.

    I have had a quick look for published annual reports on the internet and find that Francis Maude was paid £65,000 in 2006 for being a non-executive director of Benfield Group, plus they contributed into their pension scheme on his behalf.

    Mediasurface only say that their highest-paid director got 197,309 in 2006 and the other 4 shared £164,000 between them, so that is just guesswork.

    UTEK Corporation inc. can’t list his payments for 2006 as he only recently joined, but all their non-executive directors get a retainer of $7,500, another $15,000 if they serve on the audit committee and $2,000 if they serve on the budget and compensation committees. And $30,000 if they chair the audit committee. So anything from $7,500 to $40,000 plus share options.

    In 2005 (couldn’t find 2006) he was paid £15,000 for being a director of Jubilee Investment Trust.

    Prestbury Holdings, where he is chair, don’t list individual salaries (or emoluments or whatever they call them) but the highest paid director got £105k in 2005 (couldn’t find 2006) while the other 7 shared £206k between them. So more guesswork there.

    I can’t be bothered to chase up the other 3 directorships, or what Barclays pay for being on their Asia Pacific Advisory Committee but so far that is at least £120,000 to £150,000.

    Not bad for a few jobs crammed in around what is supposed to be a full-time job representing the people of Horsham.

    So like I said, some of us chose the wrong places to be director!

    (Note: Danivon’s comment appeared while I was looking all this up – but I think this answers it)

  • Skuds

    Although I looked, I couldn;t find out what Soames gets from Aegis Defence Services but I suspect it is more than £1,000

    All his other interests are as a senior vice president and as a special advisor to four other companies so they would not be listed in annual reports anyway.

    It all makes the next person on the list look hard done by… he just got two season tickets to Leicester City and a working visit to India.

  • Alice Jobling

    Please come and join the Facebook group British General Election – Average National Salary for All MPs:


    Our economy, financial system and currency are collapsing and Britain is drowning in an ocean of government, corporate and household debt.

    Currently our MPs earn approximately three times the average national salary as their basic salary.

    The current basic salary an MP earns is £63,291 a year.

    In 2006 some of them even wanted a 66% pay rise to over £100,000 a year.

    They also claim significant expenses:

    Some MPs earn vast extras outside their Parliamentary salary. As an example, William Hague registered earnings of up to £800,000 in 2007, David Blunkett over £500,000, Boris Johnson up to £535,000 before becoming London Mayor, and Ann Widdecombe approximately £300,000 and George Galloway approximately £300,000:

    Why should they earn so much?

    At the General Election, let’s make sure that every candidate who asks for anything above the average national salary as their basic salary is rejected.

    Pay cuts and redundancies should start with MPs, not us.

  • Rob Glover

    So, how much do you think an MP _should_ earn?

  • Danivon

    No MP ‘asks’ for a salary during the election, they get one whether they like it or not. The salary is not something I have a problem with. The expenses need to be properly regulated rather than (as they were) paid out with little-no checking.

    But the real money-fest is with outside earnings, often where an MP (front-bench Tories being prime for this) is on the board as a non-exec of a company so they get some kudos and the MP gets a 5-figure sum for perhaps 2 days’ work a year.

    MP should be a full time job – no moonlighting. However, the salaries of 650 people will not bankrupt us. The national average salary is a bit low, to be honest. I’d say that the best idea would be to tie it to a multiple of the median salary, based on roughly what it is now.

  • skud's sister

    If an MP is doing their job properly – and many of them do – then they are working long hours and spending amounts of time away from family which I, for one, would be unwilling to commit to. In many ways they deserve most of the salary they earn as MPs – I wouldn’t want to do thejob. However, I agree that if they are then taking on multiple other jobs/directorships/consultancies they cannot be giving their all to the job that the country is paying them a generous salary to do. If I spent 10-20% of my working week doing ‘other work’ I would not expect my main employer to be paying me for that time so why should MPs?

  • Richard

    “Big corporations and billionaires fund 90 percent to 98 percent of the Democratic and Republican Party budgets.”

    Howard Zinn

    Is the Conservative Party budget funded in the same way ?

    If so, that could explain why the likes of Frances ‘Trilateral Commission” Maude are drowning in corporate directorships ?

  • Johnston

    Politicians today have effectively sacrificed any public respect for their positions by a combination of incompetence and greed. Both UK and Euro MPs have noses in the trough of various Banks and other Corps. They have to. When they dont get re elected, they need jobs. Hence they pander to various outside enterprises during their time in office, or pad expenses to accumulate wealth. I do note that when they retire (Thatcher and Blair come tomind) they leave these shores for pastures greener. They are only to well aware of the mess they have created and only to anxious to get out before the muck sticks.