�1,666 for 20 mins' work - the life of our MP's exposed

HOW much our Members of Parliament earned from jobs outside the House of Commons can be revealed today.

Graham Dines

HOW much our Members of Parliament earned from jobs outside the House of Commons can be revealed today.

Under new rules which came into force on July 1, constituents are entitled to know how much time MPs spent on second jobs and the income they received.

Parliamentary authorities require all MPs to register payments received and these will now be published at regular intervals.

The first batch show that three Suffolk Conservatives - John Gummer, Tim Yeo and Richard Spring, were streets ahead in the earnings stake of colleagues in Suffolk and Essex.

Mr Gummer - who repaid �11,500 his gardening expenses he had claimed for his Suffolk home following newspaper stories that he had been reimbursed for the cost of getting rid of moles from his lawn - received �1,666.66 for conducting a board meeting by telephone which lasted just 20 minutes.

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The Suffolk Coastal MP was paid �3,562.20 for preparatory work and a two hour board meeting by Veolia, of which he is chairman, and �2,083.33 for a three hour meeting of the Association of Independent Financial Advisers.

The Register of Members also shows that he receives �100,000 a year for journalism and other commitments via his company Sancroft, plus �30,000 in fees and dividends.

Adam Leeder, who will be Mr Gummer's Labour opponent at the next election, said he was “outraged” at the Suffolk Coastal MP's “earnings on the side”

Mr Leeder said: “I am disappointed to read that John Gummer has earned substantial sums of money during the time he should have spent working hard on behalf of the people of Suffolk Coastal.

“What further rubs salt into the wound is that, while earning thousands on top of his MP's salary, our Member of Parliament still felt the need to charge his gardening expenses to the taxpayer.”

Mr Gummer gave a robust defence of his earnings. “I do not believe in professional politicians because they have nothing to bring into politics except memories and theories.

“I believe I should raise issues in the House of Commons about which I care passionately - the environment and provision for older people in retirement. My outside interests further my ability to do this, keeping me abreast with the subjects which affect my constituents.

“When I was a minister, I had two full-time jobs - as constituency MP and running a government department and people recognised that I always put my constituency first. I put in a 70-hour working week and nobody can say I don't give value to my constituents.”

Among payments to Mr Yeo, the MP for Suffolk South, were �1,250 for work in connection with nursing homes operator Univent plc and �3,750 for six hours as chairman of AFC Energy which is developing alkaline fuel cell technology.

He was the guest of Humana Europe at last year's Ryder Cup golf tournament in Kentucky USA, and in July he attended a climate change conference in Monte Carlo with his expenses being covered by Forum Invest which is registered in Bucharest, Romania.

Among payments to Mr Yeo, the MP for Suffolk South, were �1,250 for work in connection with nursing homes operator Univent plc and �3,750 for six hours as chairman of AFC Energy which is developing alkaline fuel cell technology.

He was last night not available for comment.

Mr Spring, MP for Suffolk West, received up to �60,000 last year as chairman of the British Ukrainian Society and the same organisation paid him �2,450 for 13 hours work organising activities for this society.

In July, he joined an all-party delegation to Mauritius for talks with the Mauritian Speaker on the future of the Crown territory Diego Garcia and other issues. All costs were met by the country's government national airline.

Mr Spring said: “This was not a jolly but bi-lateral talks with an important member of the Commonwealth. Such visits are an important part of the work of backbench MPs.”

Mark Wallace, chief executive of the Taxpayers' Alliance, said that while there was nothing wrong with MPs having some outside earnings because it kept them in touch with the real world, their primary job must be working on behalf of their constituents.

“We welcome full publication of MPs' second incomes because it enables people who voted them into the Commons to know they are not taking part in activities which run contrary to the public interest.”

Mr Wallace said the argument that MPs who were government ministers had two jobs was specious. People represented by the Prime Minister or secretaries of state could always keep a track on their activities because they were always in the news, unlike backbench MPs.

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