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The Second-Jobbing MPs Earning Millions Outside Parliament

A Byline Times investigation reveals 20 MPs working the equivalent of at least one day a week on second jobs

Matt Hancock. Photo: Russell Hart / Alamy

The Second-Jobbing MPs Earning Millions Outside Parliament

A Byline Times investigation reveals 20 Members of Parliament working the equivalent of at least one day a week on outside jobs

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Second-jobbing MPs are earning millions of pounds in additional income with some working up to the equivalent of full-time hours on outside jobs, at the same time as being paid to represent their constituents, analysis by Byline Times can reveal.

The most recent Parliamentary records reveal that 20 MPs are spending at least a full working day on second jobs, collectively earning them a total of over £3 million in additional income last year.

An analysis of Parliament’s register of interests found that over one-in-six of the MPs earning £2,500 or more from second jobs worked for upwards of 350 hours a year, or roughly an extra seven or eight hour workday a week. 

Four of the MPs in question worked the equivalent of two work days a week in second jobs, while one worked the equivalent of a full-time job alongside their role as an MP. 

The data reignites questions about MPs’ ability to properly focus on their £84,144 a year roles as parliamentarians.

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Conservative MPs Geoffrey Cox, Dan Poulter, Independent Matt Hancock and Sinn Fein’s John Finucane all worked over 700 hours a year in second jobs last year, or the equivalent of two average working days a week.

Former Health Secretary Hancock earned £443,497 from working 831 hours in second jobs, largely due to TV appearances on SAS: Who Dares Wins and I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. 

At the time his decision to spend almost three weeks in the jungle was criticised amid allegations he was failing to represent his constituents. Hancock eventually lost the Conservative Whip over his choice, while regulator Ofcom received 1,100 complaints over his appearance. 

Cox’s outside work as a lawyer – which netted him £826,000 last year and millions more in income since becoming an MP – has courted controversy in the past. Cox has represented clients in various offshore jurisdictions in the Caribbean, which have repeatedly been accused of a lack of transparency, including the government of the Virgin Islands in a corruption case. Last year, he reported working 802 hours a year for his legal work.  

Douglas Ross meanwhile, in his outside work as a football referee and a member of Scottish Parliament, worked 1,956 hours – or around 7.5 hours for every working day.

High profile figures like Hancock and Cox weren’t alone on the list. 12 of the 20 MPs covered were either serving or former ministers, or shadow ministers.

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Ex-Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries listed working “12 non-consecutive hours” a week for her work as an author, while former Transport Secretary Chris Grayling works exactly 7 hours a day each year (or a 9-5 with an hour for lunch) in his £100,000 a year role as Hutchison Ports. 

Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy, whose £111,833 a year in outside income makes him the Labour MP making the most from second jobs, worked 357 hours last year on his LBC radio show and as a corporate public speaker.  

Former Prime Minister Theresa May earned just under £1m last year in her 353 hours of work as a public speaker for an array of banks and law firms, among others – though she stressed that she only takes £85,000 of that as a salary.

Her successor Boris Johnson has also netted £5 million in speaker fees, donations and hospitality since leaving Downing Street last year.

Last year, plans to limit the time MPs spend on second jobs were dropped by the Commons Standards Committee as they did not have cross-party support. 

The data was drawn through an analysis of the MPs’ register of interests in late February 2023 and covered the 12 months prior to that date.

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