The union-funded Labour Research Department (LRD) says eight of John Major's former ministers have a total of 40 paid directorships and consultancies directly related to their previous positions "at the centre of power". More than eight of 10 Tory backbench MPs have jobs outside parliament, it points out.
At a time when Lord Nolan is conducting a review of standards in public life, including paid appointments taken by retired ministers, Mr Mellor has taken up consultancies with four defence manufacturers with strong commercial links with the Government. Racal Tacticom, Short Brothers, Vosper Thornycroft and British Aerospace are regular contractors for the government.
The LRD, which scrutinised the latest official Register of MPs' interests, found Mr Mellor holds a consultancy with Ernst and Young, accountants and management consultants, which has also been given government contracts. In its continuing campaign against alleged "sleaze" in the Conservative Party, the LRD found 200 out of 243 (83 per cent) Tory MPs, excluding ministers, hold a total of 276 paid directorships and 356 consultancies. That compared with 38 out of 271 Labour MPs with 41 directorships or consultancies; 10 out of 23 Liberal Democrats and six out of 24 nationalist and Northern Ireland MPs.
The Labour Research magazine contrasts the burgeoning outside interests of Conservative MPs with the strictures laid down by the Prime Minister last year in his speech at the Lord Mayor's banquet. Then John Major declared that the House of Commons shouldnot be used as a "hiring fair".
The Conservative with the second largest number of interests is Sir Archie Hamilton, the former armed forces minister, with 11 paid jobs. The LRD argues that the most controversial are a directorship of the security firm Saladin Holdings and a consultancy at Litton Industries, a US defence manufacturer.
Saladin has been trying to win contracts for protecting British diplomats and embassies worldwide, while Litton will be hoping Sir Archie will provide contacts at the Ministry of Defence, Labour Research points out. He is also on the board of First Philippine Investment Trust with Norman Lamont, the former Chancellor.
Mr Lamont is also a director of N M Rothschild, which has been government adviser in several privatisations. Edward Leigh, former junior technology minister, is a director of the US cable company National Telecable, whose success in establishing a nationwide fibre-optic network in Britain depends on changing government policy, LRD says.
Tristan Garel-Jones, the former junior Foreign Office minister, is an adviser to British Gas on its global operations, and Nicholas Scott, the former social security minister, is consultant to Clark & Smith Industries, whose range includes specialised products for the visually handicapped, disabled and the severely disabled.
A spokesman for Mr Mellor said he thought the LRD analysis gave the wrong impression, but that he did not want to comment further.
Robert Jackson, MP for Wantage and a former minister in the employment, education and civil service departments, has accumulated directorships in five property investment companies, three of which are connected with universities. He is also a consultant with Martin Engineering and Wessex Pharmaceuticals.
Nigel Forman, MP for Carshalton and Wallington, resigned as a junior education minister in December 1992 and now has three paid consultancies including one for De Montford University, Leicester.Reuse content