More than a year after Nadine Dorries appeared on the reality show I’m a Celebrity… she has finally done what MPs are required to do, and filled in the appropriate part of the Register of Members’ Interests. Thus we learn that being humiliated in the jungle is less lucrative than we thought. According to the Register, she was paid £6,960 while she was on the show, plus £13,268 two months later for associated interviews and photo shoots, making £20,228 in all – half what the pundits guessed she had received.
Dorries has also registered a long list of other payments about which she had previously been reticent, including a £75,000 advance for the trilogy of novels she is writing, set in Liverpool in the 1950s, and a total of £25,314 from The Sun for various articles and interviews. In all, she added £129,558 in 18 months to her MP’s salary of £66,396.
She has a ready answer to anyone who criticises her for raking in more money outside Parliament than in: she will point out that she claims considerably less by way of parliamentary expenses than she is entitled to. As she puts it: “I now no longer claim personal expenses from the taxpayer. I pay for my own Westminster accommodation when Parliament is sitting, my own constituency home and make no claims for travel, food etc.”
But naturally she charges the taxpayer for the salaries she pays her staff, including the young woman who receives £35,000 a year for giving her secretarial support in her Bedfordshire constituency – her daughter.
The green-eyed god
Nadine Dorries’s earnings, however, are only a fraction of those of her fellow Tory Stephen Phillips, MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham, a QC who has raked in more than £615,000 in just over two years from practising law. The many hours he spends in court have not stopped Mr Phillips from being a regular attendee in the Commons: he has voted in more than 90 per cent of the divisions in the current Parliament, well above average for an MP.
To those who think MPs should live off their salaries only, he had this to say, when interviewed on Radio 4’s Westminster Hour: “Part of the problem is that the public don’t really know precisely what the job of a constituency MP entails.
“The money I earn outside Parliament is money for which I work very hard. It also demonstrates how successful I am. It might well be thought that someone who commands the fees that I can might be a very good thing for my constituents.”
He added a lament for the way discussion of this subject is ruled by “the green-eyed god of envy”. So if you are feeling envious, just stop it.
Brown tops the bill
Even Mr Phillips’ earnings are eclipsed by those of the former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, though he spends none of his outside income on himself, but pays the whole lot into the office of Gordon and Sarah Brown. His entry is a vivid illustration of how much more money there is to be made from being an ex-Prime Minister than a serving one. David Cameron’s salary is £142,500; Gordon Brown’s, when he was in office, was £185,000. His updated entry shows that he was paid £64,965, plus nearly £20,000 in travel and accommodation costs, for delivering just one speech, in Mexico.
Cliff goes on a tax holiday
When Sir Cliff Richard suns himself in Portugal or Barbados, he is not just going on a summer holiday, he is taking a tax holiday.
The 73-year-old crooner has told Radio Two: “The reason I decided to reside in Barbados was because my manager said to me, ‘You know you only spend four months of the year in England?... You spend three months in Barbados, you spend three months in Portugal, you spend a couple of months touring and you visit America. You spend four months here. If you are willing to take away another month, I can perhaps save you some tax.”
He added: “I said, ‘OK, that’s another two weeks in Portugal, another two weeks in Barbados. Thank you, I’ll do it.’”