Second jobs and party donations from energy firms, IT and property companies - what has your MP declared in the latest MP’s register of interests?
PUBLISHED: 09:52 29 October 2014 | UPDATED: 07:25 30 October 2014
Many MPs earn money from second jobs and directorships, receive donations from businesses and individuals and head off on overseas trips. Under parliamentary rules, they must publish this information. Political editor Annabelle Dickson looks at the latest register of MPs’ interests.
• HENRY BELLINGHAM
Former minister Henry Bellingham has collected more than £66,000 from second jobs over the last year, official parliamentary records show.
The North West Norfolk MP, who is a non-executive director of consultancy and conference organiser Developing Markets Associates, chairman of Pontus Marine, which has fishing interests in the Gulf of Aden and the Middle East and joined mining company Pathfinder Minerals as a non-executive chairman, earned £66,355 for 107 hours work since last October, according to the most recent register of members interests.
Mr Bellingham, who has forestry and arable land in Norfolk and is a non-practising barrister, was a foreign office minister until 2012.
He joined the House of Commons in 1983, and has served since then, losing his seat between 1997 and 2001.
He said that as Africa minister he worked 12 hours each day, seven days a week on his brief, as well as five or six hours a day on constituency work.
He claimed he now does 60 hours a week on his constituency work.
“I take the view that everybody is entitled to a certain amount of free time,” he said.
He said his directorships were taking an average of two to three hours a week.
“As far as the pay is concerned, I am being paid the going rate. The amount of extra money I am getting amounts to what a senior minister gets.
“If you approve of MPs being ministers, I think it is healthy if MPs get second jobs.”
But he said it was important there was total transparency.
“I think it is important MPs are allowed to have second interests – writing articles, after dinner speaking, charity, business.
“We want more MPs to understand the challenges of business.”
He said he had learned from his job more about accounts and audits, and had learned to read a balance sheet.
He said in his job as an executive director he had told directors they were going to have to be paid a bit less.
• GEORGE FREEMAN
Mid-Norfolk MP George Freeman has quit his directorship of an agricultural seeds business after becoming a minister.
The latest parliamentary records show he earned £8,321.78 for 45 hours work between October 2012 and March 2014 as a non-executive director of the Lincolnshire-based family-owned firm Elsoms (Spalding) Ltd.
Before becoming an MP, Mr Freeman helped grow small businesses in the region, and served on the boards of a number of small companies, including the Norwich Research Park Seed Challenge Iceni Fund.
In July, Mr Freeman joined the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department of Health as minister for life sciences.
In his job he will be in charge of the government’s strategy on life sciences regulation, NHS innovation, research and development and genomics and genetics.
He said: “Politics needs fewer professional politicians and spin doctors, and more people who have worked in the real world. It can be a good thing when an MP can bring front-line experience as a doctor, dentist, or say, non-executive director of their family business.
“But being an MP is a full-time job so I think there should be a limit on the hours so that any outside interests have to be on top of a full-time job as MP, and should be capped at a few hours each week, and fully declared so our constituents can decide.”
Norwich-based property giant Targetfollow, and its founder, are backing Norman Lamb with thousands of pounds of donations, parliamentary records show.
The North Norfolk MP has registered £39,800 in donations, including £4,950 from Targetfollow Estates, over the last year.
Entrepreneur Ardeshir Naghshineh, who founded the company, also donated £4,950 as a private donation.
Prior to donating to the Liberal Democrat MP, in 2010, Targetfollow avoided administration after seeking the help of Norfolk MPs, including Mr Lamb, who helped secure more time for the company to come up with alternatives.
Mr Lamb said: “All donations to my campaign are given by people who want to help me do my work in North Norfolk and nationally. It’s very costly to employ staff and communicate with people.
At the last general election, the Liberal Democrats called for a £10,000 cap on party donations, and Mr Lamb said his party had arranged and led cross-party talks to attempt to deliver lasting reform in government.
“The roadblock to reform in this Parliament has, once again, been the vested interests of the two larger parties. The Conservatives would not give up the big money donations from wealthy individuals and big business, and, despite recent positive noises on standing up to the unions, Labour refused to give up the large donations from their trade union backers when we had the talks.”
He said his party did not rely on the financial support of big vested interests, such as wealthy City banks or the unions.
He added: “Here in North Norfolk most of our donations are one-off contributions from members of the public who support the good work that we do for local communities. In the last two years we have received hundreds of small donations from individuals, mostly under £25.”
• SIMON WRIGHT
Former Liberal Democrat group leader in Broadland Stuart Beadle has backed Norwich South MP Simon Wright to the tune of £3,000.
Records show that Mr Beadle, listed as a private donor, was registered by Mr Wright this year.
Mr Wright said: “MPs and political parties do need access to funding. Without it, we cannot employ campaigns staff, pay rent for offices, or print our local newsletters. These are all important, because they allow us to report back to our constituents the work we are doing on their behalf. Campaigning activity also helps to engage people in the democratic process of elections.”
• BRANDON LEWIS
Energy firms in Great Yarmouth and elsewhere are supporting MP Brandon Lewis with thousands of pounds of donations.
The housing minister has received £2,000 from Brineflow Properties and Handling Ltd – which provides concentrated sodium and potassium brine for offshore drilling.
He also received £10,000 from a firm which provides engineering and construction for oil, gas and renewable energy projects, Offshore Group Newcastle.
Great Yarmouth manufacturer Pasta Foods also donated £5,000 to the MP.
Mr Lewis said: “Donations are all recorded on the register of members’ interests and available for scrutiny as per the law, and rightly so.
“Many donations to parties and candidates are very small ones. These donations, large and small, come from people who support my work for Great Yarmouth and/or want a Conservative government which will continue the work to fix our economy and move our country forward.”
He said the money was spent on ensuring he kept in touch with residents regularly, through his website, regular email newsletters, magazines, newspapers and letters to local residents.
“Keeping in touch with 75,000 people regularly does cost money and I do not benefit from bloc union or central funding. Equally, I do not think these costs should be borne by the taxpayer and I thank those who support me with donations and coming to events and helping us by working locally.”
• CHLOE SMITH
A Norwich-based IT firm has donated thousands of pounds-worth of IT support to MP Chloe Smith.
The Computer Service Centre, based on Meridian Way, has provided more than £30,000 of either donations or IT support to the Norwich North parliamentarian.
Ms Smith said: “Donations to my campaign are all clearly recorded and available for scrutiny as per the law. They are all from people who agree that I’m a good MP for Norwich North and who want to support me and the Conservative Party winning the next election. I spend the money raised on communicating with people in Norwich North. For example, printing a leaflet to deliver to every home, or running a website, or renting an office, costs money. I do my job by being in touch and you can’t achieve speaking to 65,000 people on fresh air alone.
“There’s no consensus on if or how to change the ways that candidates gain campaign support. The taxpayer should not be asked to pay for political party work. Meanwhile Labour wants to protect the fortune it gets from the trade unions, who hold influence over Ed Miliband in return and would take Britain back to the 1970s.”
• Other MPs
South West Norfolk MP and cabinet minister Liz Truss’ only listing was a box at Norwich City Football Club in September 2013 for her and her husband, valued at about £2,000.
Broadland MP Keith Simpson continues to collect £145 each month for 20 hours as the book review editor for Total Politics magazine.
Peter Aldous declared his “beneficial interest” in a farm near Ipswich, and that he is a partner in his family farm near Halesworth.
South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon was given £150 for opening a procurement conference and also went on a trip to China – worth about £1,633 – which was sponsored by a number of big businesses, including HSBC.
Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey had a Conservative business dinner, estimated to be worth £1,000, donated to her by Huawei Technologies and was also taken to the tennis in Wimbledon in June by Digital UK – a trip with an estimated value of £895.
Matthew Hancock’s West Suffolk seat was paid a total of £11,250, including £7,250 from Tetrapak heiress Kirsten Rausing, one of the richest women in the country.
Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley received £590 for taking part in surveys with polling companies, and also £500 from a financial publisher for a speech at a conference in Cambridge.
North East Cambridgeshire MP Stephen Barclay declared no interests.
• MPs employing relations
The controversial practice of MPs employing relatives is still very much alive.
According to the latest records 151 MPs are still employing family members.
North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellilngham continues to employ his wife Emma, as a temporary part-time parliamentary assistant and researcher.
In Suffolk MP Dan Poulter employs his mother Carol as a senior caseworker.