Westminster Accounts: Sir Keir Starmer defends Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy earning £200,000 from second jobs

Sir Keir Starmer has defended shadow foreign secretary David Lammy earning £200,000 from second jobs this parliament - but said the rules need to be stricter.

Sky News and Tortoise Media have brought together all MPs' earnings from second jobs and donations into one database for the first time in the Westminster Accounts database.

Mr Lammy is one of only two Labour MPs in the top 20 earners and he has declared income from more than 40 different sources - the most of any MP - totalling £202,599 since this parliament started in December 2019.

But Labour leader Sir Keir has backed a ban on second jobs for MPs, with some exceptions.

Westminster Accounts: Find out how much your MP is earning from second jobs

Reacting to Mr Lammy's high earnings, Sir Keir told Sky News' Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme: "I think David does a lot of media work, and I think media work and writing books is all part of the political process.

"But there's a discussion to be had, I was urging the whole House of Commons to agree new rules because I do think we should get rid of second jobs with some exceptions.

"Some people have jobs where they need to top up their skills. And I do think if you write a political book that may be grounds for an exemption.

"But I still want the House of Commons to agree new rules which are stricter than the rules that we've got - the sooner we can do that, the better."

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Sir Keir added that he thinks collating MPs' second job earnings as part of the Westminster Accounts project is a "good thing".

"The more transparency, the better, so that everybody can see exactly what has been declared and ask whatever they want about it," he added.

There is no suggestion Mr Lammy or any MP has done anything improper but it is often difficult for the public to clearly see how much MPs are earning on top of their base salary and what work they are doing. But that has now been collated in the Westminster Accounts database.

Read more:
Transparency in politics often feels like it falls short - we want to shine a light on that
Westminster Accounts: Following the money
How to explore the database for yourself

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Sky News received no response from either Mr Lammy or the Labour Party about whether his work would qualify as an "exemption" from Sir Keir's planned ban on second jobs.

At the end of last year, a Labour review of the constitution by former prime minister Gordon Brown recommended banning second jobs but with an exemption for MPs who need to work to maintain professional qualifications such as doctors and lawyers.

Sir Keir endorsed the recommendations but there has yet to be a clear-cut list of jobs that will be exempt.

In the past, Mr Lammy has defended his radio show, saying he is "the only black presenter on LBC" and it is "important for my constituents".

Jess Phillips is the only other Labour MP in the top 20, ranking at number 19 with £162,838 of external earnings that come from a range of places - including almost £65,000 for an advance on a book, £25,000 for appearing on Have I Got News For You, and just shy of £30,000 for columns in the Independent.