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Nearly one in five MPs have regular paid work outside parliament

Analysis by public standards committee finds 119 MPs declared an annual total of £3.35m from second jobs
Nearly one in five MPs have regular paid work outside parliament, according to an independent committee report.
In an analysis of MPs’ second jobs by the committee for standards in public life, 119 members were found to have declared total earnings of approximately £279,000 per month.
The committee called for a tightening of the MPs’ code of conduct, with any breach triggering an automatic investigation by the parliamentary standards commissioner.
MPs should also be banned from taking on outside jobs as parliamentary strategists, advisers or consultants, the committee said.
Lord Bew, the committee chair, said MPs should continually demonstrate integrity, and that some have failed to do so.
“Where a small number of individuals have taken up outside interests beyond what might be considered reasonable, it risks undermining trust in parliament and parliamentarians,” he said.
Based on parliament’s register of members’ interests up to March, the total annual earnings from regular outside interests amounts to approximately £3.35m.
The register includes three consultants/advisers, 30 writers and 59 speakers, panellists or radio contributors.
Jobs as political strategists and advisers are much less common than in the past, the committee said, and it expressed concern they could lead to MPs developing privileged relationships with particular organisations, resulting in “undue influence” being brought to bear on parliament.
The committee originally launched its inquiry in March last year in the wake of the political storm that followed the appointment of former chancellor George Osborne as editor of the Evening Standard, alongside a series of other lucrative appointments, while he was still an MP.
Osborne, who stood down as an MP last year, is among those to have given evidence to the committee.
In its report, the committee called for a reform to the register to make it more “accessible, searchable and usable” by the public.
The current rules on when MPs needed to declare an interest are “complex and unclear”, it said, and it called for voters to be told what outside interests parliamentary candidates intend to hold if they are elected.
Minister Nadhim Zahawi tops the list of Conservative MPs for outside earnings, earning an equivalent annual salary of £765,000, according to reports.
The MP for Stratford-on-Avon, who co-founded the polling business YouGov, was the chief strategy officer at the oil exploration company Gulf Keystone Petroleum, from which he received £29,643 a month. He has now stood down from that job.
Many MPs claim work outside of parliament means they have a broader range of experience and are less likely to be “career politicians”.
But many critics have called for a ban on second jobs, saying it would increase public trust in politicians.
MPs are not allowed to act as “paid advocates” and have to declare their financial interests, including paid employment outside parliament, in the register.
There are also restrictions on the roles cabinet ministers are entitled to take up immediately after leaving office.