Midweek Money: Would an MP trust an MP?

WE ARE meant to trust them to make all manner of decisions on our behalf, including financial ones. So how do MPs shape up when it comes to how they would look after their own money?

This was the subject of a survey of 35 Members of Parliament - from Labour, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats - carried out by Virgin Direct, the financial services company, last month.

The results are intriguing. Almost half those polled, 15 out of 35, said they would buy a financial product directly from a company, ahead of those MPs who preferred to go to an independent financial adviser for help.

A further nine said they would talk to a bank, with one lone MP indicating that the first port of call would be a building society.

Perhaps the most interesting answers came when MPs were asked which single celebrity they would entrust to invest pounds 1,000 of their money.

The "brown-nose tendency" won out on both sides of the House, with John Gunnell, Freser Kemp and Dr Ashok Kumar, all Labour MPs, naming the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, as their choice.

One Liberal Democrat appears to be wavering towards the governing party: Nick Palmer also opted for Gordon Brown, although it is hard to know whether Barry Gardiner, a Labour MP, was serious when he named his parliamentary colleague Geoffrey Robinson, Treasury Minister, as his financial minder.

On the other side, Patrick Colvin, Conservative MP, plumped for Francis Maude, the Shadow Chancellor, as his financial guru. Ken Livingstone lived up to his maverick reputation by announcing he would hand over his pounds 1,000 to "anyone except Gordon Brown".

Other MPs gave more refreshingly bizarre answers, with replies ranging from Melinda Messenger (Colin Breed, Lib Dem); Ivana Trump (Jane Griffiths, Labour); Basil Brush (Michael Moore, Lib Dem) and Richard Wilson (Paul Tyler, Lib Dem).

However, Rowan Gormley, managing director at Virgin Direct, defends the strange choice of some money managers by MPs. He says: "Whether you are watching the pennies or playing the markets, saving money allows you to plan a secure financial future. Judging by their own money making skills, I suspect the likes of Melinda Messenger and Ivana Trump would give the average fund manager a run for their money."

Save Money The MP's Way

MPs on their favourite money-saving hints:

"Don't buy National Lottery tickets."

Paul Goggins, Wythenshaw & Sale East

"I'm still trying to find one that works."

Nick Palmer, Broxtowe

"Minimise your use of energy; wasted energy is money burnt."

Richard Allan, Sheffield

"Inherit a fortune, or marry Liz Taylor, or stay in bed."

Nigel Evans, Ribble Valley

"Use free supermarket shopping-bags as pedal-bin liners."

Adrian Sanders,

Torbay

"Leave before it's your round in the pub."

Lembit Opik, Montgomeryshire

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