Hattersley rejects title as MPs' top earner

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The Independent Online
Roy Hattersley emerges as Parliament's highest declared outside earner, according to the new register of MPs interests published yesterday.

The operative word, though, is "declared". While Mr Hattersley, the former Labour deputy leader and MP for Birmingham Sparkbrook, picks up a maximum of pounds 110,000 from two newspaper writing contracts - The Guardian pays him pounds 25,001-pounds 30,000 and the Mail on Sunday pounds 75,001-pounds 80,000 - he is not, by a mile, Westminster's "fat cat".

That distinction belongs to one of several Tory MPs, who, while holding numerous external consultancies and directorships, have refused to reveal how much they are paid.

Under the new, post-Nolan rules, they should declare how much they earn from contracts awarded to them for providing services in their capacity as MPs. This has allowed former ministers to maintain they have been hired because they are former ministers, not current MPs.

It is difficult, looking at the posts held by the likes of Norman Lamont, David Mellor, Douglas Hurd and Tristan Garel-Jones, to believe that they do not all earn more than Mr Hattersley. Similarly, some Tory MPs have persuaded Sir Gordon Downey, the new policeman for parliamentary standards, that their outside posts have nothing to do with their day jobs as MPs. Mr Mellor, the former Secretary of State for National Heritage, provides the most robust defence of his entry: "It is not now, and never has been a contractual duty, implied or otherwise, that my services are provided in my capacity as an MP. The existence of these contracts is not dependent in any way upon my being an MP, nor does the duration of these contracts bear any relationship to any parliamentary time- table."

He declares the fact of his consultancies with 10 companies, including British Aerospace, chartered accountants Ernst & Young, and Racal Tacticom, but not the amounts he received. Mr Mellor and the former prime minister, Sir Edward Heath, are understood to have both made representations to Sir Gordon and had their entries approved by him. Mr Mellor is believed to have taken legal advice on the matter.

The Labour MP, Tony Banks, provoked Tory anger by declaring in the register that he is a paid parliamentary adviser to two trade unions, BECTU and the musicians' union, without revealing how much he is paid.

Mr Hattersley's reaction to his top slot was a mixture of resignation and anger. He played by the rules and has suffered accordingly, he said. He took advice from Sir Gordon and while he believed his newspaper deals were unrelated to his position as an MP, he accepted the ruling that they were. The fact that he is leaving Parliament at the next election to concentrate on writing and his existing newspaper deals will continue unaffected, did not wash with Sir Gordon. "Nobody will believe I'm the highest earner in the House of Commons," he said. "The system is breaking down already. The only way it can be overcome if members are going to cheat is to pass a resolution that all earnings be declared."

Labour's were not the only MPs to snipe over the new register. Tory MPs also drew attention to several large donations from trade unions for the offices of Labour shadow ministers, and to the ending of trade union sponsorship deals, which they said concealed funding of local Labour parties.

They focused their fire on the funding arrangements for the offices of Tony Blair, John Prescott and Labour's front-bench team. Mr Blair's new entry brings together a number of declarations that have dribbled out in supplements to the old register which are placed in the House of Commons Library. The Labour leader declares a Fender Stratocaster electric guitar, a gift from the British Phonographic Industry. More significantly, he has rearranged the system by which his office is funded. Earlier this year, the Labour Leader's Office Fund was set up. This is a "blind trust", where Mr Blair and his office do not know the identity of contributors so they cannot be influenced by them.

John Prescott, meanwhile, has set up his own trust, the John Prescott Campaign/Research Trust to finance his office as deputy leader. The top 10 MPs in the Commons' league of outside declared earnings Roy Hattersley: pounds 110,000

Labour MP for Birmingham Sparkbrook, former deputy Labour leader, paid by the Guardian and Mail on Sunday Patrick Nicholls: pounds 77,000

Tory MP for Teignbridge, former junior minister, paid by Hill & Smith Holdings, The National Specialist Contractors Council, Channel Express, Wells, British Bus, The Clinical Dental Technicians Association Sir Dudley Smith: pounds 55,000

Former junior minister in Heath government, Tory MP for Warwick and Leamington, paid by Whitehall Laboratories, Celltech, The Cosmetic Toiletry and Perfumery Association, Faulding Pharmaceuticals, Pielle Corporate Com- munications, Gillette Management Andrew Hunter: pounds 52,000

Chairman Northern Ireland Tory backbench committee, MP for Basingstoke, consultant to Lily Industries, Scott Wilson Kirkpatrick, The Timeshare Council, member of The Political Opinion Panel of BPRI, member of Harris Parliamentary Panel John Greenway: pounds 50,000

Tory MP for Ryedale, adviser to the Institute of Insurance Brokers, Yorkshire Tyne Tees TV, General Healthcare, also works for European Incentive and Business Travel and Meetings Exhitbition, the Institute of Sales Promotion, British Promotional Merchandising Association Keith Hampson: pounds 46,000

Member of trade and industry select committee, Tory MP for Leeds North West, consultant to NCM (Credit Inurance), Capitb Plc, Association of University Teachers, Alexander and Alexander, PowerGen, member of Political Opinion Panel of BPRI Ian Bruce: pounds 45,000

Tory MP for South Dorset, adviser to Telecommunications Managers Association, Trevor Gilbert & Associates, Federation of Recruitment and Employment Services Quentin Davies: pounds 42,000

Member of Treasury select committee, Tory MP for Stamford and Spalding, adviser to NatWest Securities, consultant to Chartered Institute of Taxation, member of Political Opinion Panel of BPRI, member of Harris Parliamentary Panel Sir Anthony Grant: pounds 41,000

Member of 1922 Tory backbench committee executive, member of trade and industry select committee, MP for South Cambridgeshire, chairman of Guildfare Ltd, director of Bowring, Marsh & McLennan, adviser to Bowring UK, Barclays Bank, The Guild of Business Travel Agents, member of Harris Parliamentary Panel Paul Marland: pounds 40,000

Tory MP for West Gloucestershire, adviser to The British Metals Federation, Unigate Dairies, Reclamation Association, Rank Xerox *MPs declare earnings in bands. Figures are top of their declared bands and are earnings in addition to their MP's salaries