The Daily Telegraph have been running a 5 month sting on Mark Pritchard, the Conservative MP for the Wrekin. They had an undercover reporter pose as an Indian hotel investor who was looking for somewhere to build hotels and wanted Mark Pritchard to use his contacts and membership of All Party Parliamentary Groups on Malta and Albania to help them. He offered to help them invest in Albania for a 3% cut of the profits and £3k a month retainer.
Pritchard is adamant that he’s done nothing wrong and has referred himself to the Parliamentary Standards Commission “to clear my name” and to be honest, the Telegraph’s story is pretty tenuous. Their story hinges on Pritchard using contacts he’s obtained on parliamentary business for private gain which is not only pretty difficult to prove but in a lot of cases entirely subjective. The Parliamentary Standards Commission will probably find no evidence of rule-breaking and they’re probably right.
However, this does pose a bigger question: should MPs have second jobs or should they devote themselves full time to being an MP? The £67k salary an MP receives isn’t enough to make them a millionaire yet so many MPs become extremely wealthy during their time in parliament thanks to their business interests. They’re hired for their influence and they can’t employ someone else to do the influencing for them so if we’re expecting MPs to work as MPs for at least 37 and a half hours a week, they must be pretty busy in the evenings and weekends to be able to justify a £36k a year retainer just for offering advice like Mark Pritchard. Either that or (more likely) they’re using the time we could reasonably expect them to be working for us as an MP to conduct private business.
So we’re asking the question, should MPs have second jobs or should they devote themselves full time to being an MP?
According to the Political Scrapbook website Mark Pritchard has three second jobs declared in his register of interests earning him about £80k a year on top of his £67k a year MP’s salary. How can he possibly be putting in full time hours as an MP with three other highly paid jobs?