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People Overwhelmingly Believe MPs' Second Job Earnings Should Be Capped

3 min read

Exclusive: More than two thirds of people believe there should be a limit to how much money an MP can earn in their second jobs outside of parliament, new polling has revealed.

An exclusive survey for PoliticsHome, conducted by Redfield & Wilton strategies, shows that 67% of people polled favour a limit being set, while only 19% are against the idea.

The basic salary for an MP is currently £81,932. On top this, parliamentarians are able to claim expenses to cover running their offices, employing staff, renting properties in London or their constituency and commuting between parliament and their constituency.

The polling for PoliticsHome, conducted this week with a sample size of 1,500, follows a series of revelations around MPs earning significant extra income from jobs independent of their parliamentary work, often in the field of consulting to private companies.

The MP Geoffrey Cox faced strong criticism after it was exposed that he undertook lucrative legal work in the Caribbean during the pandemic.

The former Attorney General’s second job in the British Virgin Islands took place earlier this year. Since then the MP has registered earning £400,000 a year from a major law firm, appearing to often work close to full time hours on the contract. 

Cox also used the House of Commons proxy voting system to vote during his time on the sunny holiday island and renowned tax haven. 

In a statement published on Geoffrey Cox's website today, Cox said he had secured permission from Chief Whip Mark Spencer to use the proxy system in this way. 

Alongside Cox, the Tory MP Laurence Robertson has faced recent scrutiny for being paid £24,000 to work as a "parliamentary adviser on sport and safer gambling" for the Betting and Gaming Council.

Robertson told Sky News that his "concern has primarily been to protect the horseracing industry" which "depends heavily on betting companies".

While a majority of those surveyed support a second job income threshold, less than half agree that it is acceptable for MPs to earn any income – beyond what they make in parliament – at all.

Only 42% of survey respondents said additional earnings for MPs were acceptable, so long as they are publicly disclosed.Amid the sleaze and lobbying row currently engulfing parliament, it has also come to light that Natalie Elphicke, who told footballer Marcus Rashford to “stick to his day job” when he campaigned to get free school meals for impoverished children in the school holidays, also has a second job.

The Conservative MP, who earns £36,000 a year as chair of the New Homes Quality Board, and parliamentarians more broadly, has subsequently been accused of hypocrisy on the issue of discussing integrity and workplace ethics.

But despite the raft of sleaze revelations over the past fortnight, the majority of people surveyed (52%) nonetheless believe that being an MP is an “honourable job”.   

A further 68% agree that it is “demanding job”, while just under a third think that being an MP is a “desirable job”.

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