Tory minister: MPs aren't paid enough to 'feather our nest'

·Political Correspondent, Yahoo News UK
·4-min read
Paul Scully GMB Mps don't make a fortune
The minister for small business claimed being an MP was not the best way to make money. (ITV/Good Morning Britain)

A Conservative minister has defended the practice of MPs having second jobs and insisted being a member of parliament is not the "best way to get a small fortune".

MPs currently earn around £82,000-a-year, which is more than double the average salary in the UK.

They are also able to claim expenses for second homes, enjoy taxpayer-subsidised food in parliament, and regularly receive work perks – such as being invited to major sporting and music events.

The row erupted as it emerged some MPs have had a lucrative sideline in second jobs with Boris Johnson forced to insist on Wednesday that the "UK is not a corrupt country".

"We need to make sure and remind members of parliament of their duties," small business minister Paul Scully told ITV's Good Morning Britain (GMB) in response to the sustained criticism.

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"But members of parliament come into parliament because the bar is set so high to do otherwise, quite frankly, for the right reasons: to do best by their constituents.

"I was told, right before I was an MP, that the best way of ending up with a small fortune in politics is to start with a large one. It's not a great place to be feathering your nest."

Scully's comments come in the aftermath of the Owen Paterson lobbying scandal, which saw the MP being found to have committed "egregious" breaches of parliamentary standards.

He was handed a 30-day suspension after it emerged he earned thousands of pounds working for private companies and used his position MP to lobby government departments on their behalf.

File photo dated 28/02/17 of Owen Paterson who has has resigned as the MP for North Shropshire. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised MPs a fresh vote on Owen Paterson's suspension for an alleged breach of lobbying rules
The independent parliamentary standards watchdog found Tory MP Owen Paterson made an 'egegrious' breach of lobbying rules. (PA Images)

More stories have emerged of MPs holding highly-paid second jobs since the incident – such as former attorney general, Conservative MP Sir Geoffrey Cox, who worked remotely from the Caribbean and earned £400,000-a-year alongside his £82,000-a-year MP salary.

Like Paterson, Cox has refused to apologise.

Scully also appeared to defend Cox highlighting that he was an "esteemed barrister" before he came into politics," said Scully.

He also pointed out that, as minister for small businesses, he himself technically holds a second job.

"As a minister, that is my second job effectively," he said.

"If I was just a looking at Sutton and Cheam, my constituents - and I'm going back to Sutton after this round this morning and speaking to residents there - then I wouldn't be able to be a minister."

File photo dated 3/10/2018 of then then Attorney General Geoffrey Cox delivering a speech at the Conservative Party annual conference at the International Convention Centre, Birmingham. 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.
Tory MP and former attorney general, Sir Geoffrey Cox, worked remotely from the Caribbean during the pandemic and earns £400,000 alongside his £81,932-a-year MP salary. (PA Images)

He also suggested that MPs having second jobs can make them more effective and informed in their roles.

"If you are in business, it gives you better business acumen. If you're a lawyer, it gives you ability to scrutinise legislation far better. If you're a nurse - like a few MPs are - then that gives you that sense of public service."

Boris Johnson has refused to apologise for his management of the conduct of his MPs, but was forced to tell journalists at a COP26 press conference that the UK was "not remotely a corrupt country" amid reports of growing discontent within his party over his management of the situation.

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In contrast, chancellor Rishi Sunak told Sky News that "it's fair to say that we need to do better than we did last week and we know that".

Former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown warned on Wednesday that MPs were risking bringing parliament "into disrepute".

"Now, we will have to deal with these conflicts of interest because they’re bringing the House of Commons into disrepute, appointments to the House of Lords for people with commercial interests are bringing the House of Lords into disrepute, and people are losing trust in British politics and something has got to be done," he told BBC Radio 4's Today.

Watch: Who is Sir Geoffrey Cox? Tory MP at the centre of the new sleaze row

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