“I’ve always believed MPs should have outside interests” - Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham defends decision to take mining company job

Henry Bellingham MP Henry Bellingham MP

Friday, February 21, 2014
8:47 AM

Henry Bellingham said he has always believed MPs should have outside interests as he came under fire for taking a job as chairman of a mining company.
The North-West Norfolk MP, who was minister for Africa in the foreign office until 2012, said his new role at Pathfinder Minerals was a very small commitment and would not have an impact on parliamentary or constituency work.

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He has come under fire from political opponents and campaigning groups which claim that it ”corrodes trust in politics”.

Mr Bellingham met Pathfinder Mineral, the company of which he is now chairman, over a licence dispute in Mozambique while a minister. In a 2012 trading statement the company said the Norfolk MP would continue to take a close personal interest in the issue.

In a statement to the stockmarket, Mr Bellingham said: “I share my fellow directors’ aim to restore control to Pathfinder of the heavy mineral sand deposits in Zambezia Province acquired by Pathfinder in 2011; and to develop them for the benefit of Mozambique and of Pathfinder’s shareholders.”

Mr Bellingham told the EDP there was a “rigorous” process to go through before a former minister was able to take on an outside interest and the Cabinet Office had approved his application.

He said: “All appointments to former ministers and former civil servants have to be cleared by a highly rigorous process. They actually had this application for a number of months and they are satisfied.”

He added: “It is a very small company. It employs four people and its value is under £2m. It is obviously going to be a very small commitment. I have always believed that MPs should have outside interests.”

The Norfolk MP also lists directorships at consultancy and conference organiser Developing Markets Associates Ltd and fishing firm Pontus Marine Ltd and is also an unremunerated director of Global Law Summit Ltd, which is behind commemorations of the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta.

He is trained barrister who is no longer practising.

Mr Bellingham said: “I have always taken the view the MPs should have outside interests and you have to balance those against your constituency interests, which always come first. Everyone is entitled to some time off. I work ten hours a day, sometimes up to 15, and if I want to spend some time on outside interests, that is my judgement call.”

Alexandra Runswick, director of the pro-transparency Unlock Democracy campaign, said: “The revolving door whereby former ministers take paid employment with companies they were involved with in their government role corrodes trust in politics.

“Politicians have a privileged position and this should be used for public service not developing a future business career.”

13 comments

  • He believes MPs should have outside interests. Well I dont. Let's put it another way. I am paid handsomely to work for my boss and I really do have to work hard all day to do the job properly. If I suddenly announced to my boss that I was going to branch out and swan off and do another job as well she would have a herd of cows and I would be in a job free zone. And quite rightly too. So why are MPs different? I would have thought with all the whining we get from them about how overloaded with work they are the last thing on their minds would be to take on more work. Unless of course they are greedy. Now there's where the discussion should be based.

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    alecto

    Saturday, February 22, 2014

  • "Outside interest?" Well, perhaps. The whole history of Pathfinder Minerals is an interesting one, which will repay a sustained [insert search engine of choice here]. The company relisted on Aim in 2012, having been suspended after allegations of mis-governance and dubious ownership of licences. These matters were resolved in Pathfinder's favour in the english courts - it seems that the licences were appropriated by a local player, in a somewhat cheeky bid to get himself a mining company of his very own. Anyway, following a meeting between the President of Mozambique, Cameron and Hague, matters seemed to move along in the right direction. Bellingham is seen to have high-level political contacts in Africa, established through his political career. As he himself said about his position with Pathfinder: "As the former Minister for Africa, I am acutely aware of Mozambique's will to work with international companies to develop responsibly the vast natural resource capacity of the country." Outside interests? Built on what foundations?

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    GoneAway

    Friday, February 21, 2014

  • Time to ditch dear old Brian I fear......

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    User Removed

    Saturday, February 22, 2014

  • a well know singer was shunned by the establishment after what he did so why is there a picture of liberal cyril smith in the house of commons

    Report this comment

    milecross

    Friday, February 21, 2014

  • Poor Henry really needs a better adviser than those he's had for the last 30 years, unless he's not intending to stand in the next election. MPs with Cabinet positions can never put their constituents first, neither will those aspiring to climb the political ladder if it means rocking the boat.

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    Honest John

    Friday, February 21, 2014

  • I hear he has envied Tim Yeo for years.

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    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Monday, February 24, 2014

  • If he's a trained barrister why doesn't he follow his profession? Wasn't he any good at it? More likely because it would involve doing a proper job of work.

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    Father Brian

    Saturday, February 22, 2014

  • "Outside interest?" Well, perhaps. The whole history of Pathfinder Minerals is an interesting one, which will repay a sustained [insert search engine of choice here]. The company relisted on Aim in 2012, having been suspended after allegations of mis-governance and dubious ownership of licences. These matters were resolved in Pathfinder's favour in the english courts - it seems that the licences were appropriated by a local player, in a somewhat cheeky bid to get himself a mining company of his very own. Anyway, following a meeting between the President of Mozambique, Cameron and Hague, matters seemed to move along in the right direction. Bellingham is seen to have high-level political contacts in Africa, made through his political career. As he himself said about his position with Pathfinder: "As the former Minister for Africa, I am acutely aware of Mozambique's will to work with international companies to develop responsibly the vast natural resource capacity of the country." Outside interests? Built on what foundations?

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    GoneAway

    Friday, February 21, 2014

  • Tory MPs do believe that MPs should have outside interests. Funnily enough, the electorate, in the main, don't I know two MPs personally (not Conservatives), and they devote so much time to being good MPs that they have no time for outside interests. Perhaps this is what Mr Bellingham should be doing ?

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    Nich

    Friday, February 21, 2014

  • Well he would say that wouldn't he?

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    guella

    Friday, February 21, 2014

  • Bye Henry..............Ha........they never felt a thing old bean...............

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    Dickens

    Sunday, February 23, 2014

  • Obviously outside interests that earn him money,not ones that could benefit his constituents or the country.

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    Reader

    Friday, February 21, 2014

  • Tory MPs do believe that MPs should have outside interests. Funnily enough, the electorate, in the main, don't I know two MPs personally (not Conservatives), and they devote so much time to being good MPs that they have no time for outside interests. Perhaps this is what Mr Bellingham should be doing ?

    Report this comment

    Nich

    Friday, February 21, 2014

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