Members of the Shadow Cabinet will give up their second jobs by the end of the year as they gear up for the general election, David Cameron announced yesterday.
But he faced accusations of "double standards" after admitting that junior frontbenchers would be able to keep their outside posts until the election. Under the ministerial code of conduct, they would have to leave their other jobs if they become ministers.
The Tory leader insisted that holding jobs outside Parliament was not incompatible with being a good MP. "I do not think that a chamber full of professional politicians with no outside experience is a good thing," he said.
But he added: "My Shadow Cabinet has, however, recognised that we are in a particular period at the end of a five-year parliament where it does become necessary to demonstrate 100 per cent focus on Parliament, politics and setting out our credentials as an alternative government. So it's decided that, from the end of December, they won't have any outside interests."
Mr Cameron insisted he was not taking the election result for granted.
The issue of outside jobs has caused tension at the highest level of the Conservative Party. Mr Cameron floated the idea of a ban last year, but had to delay the move until nearer the election after objections led by William Hague, his unofficial deputy. Mr Hague earned about £230,000 last year from after-dinner speeches, advice to private companies and writing books, but has since announced plans to give up his outside work. Some junior frontbenchers are understood to be reluctant to surrender their extra income until the party has won power.
From tomorrow, all MPs will have to publish their outside earnings and how much time they spend on non-parliamentary work under plans unveiled by Gordon Brown to clean up politics after the scandal over MPs' expenses.
All Shadow Cabinet members in the Commons, and the shadow Leader of the Lords, Lord Strathclyde, will surrender their other posts, although the Tory peers Sayeeda Warsi and Pauline Neville-Jones will not have to comply because they do not draw a salary from the public purse.
The Tories released details of the Shadow Cabinet's outside earnings before tomorrow's deadline as Mr Cameron sought to keep one step ahead of Mr Brown on the issue.
Mr Hague, the shadow Foreign Secretary, declares £50,000 a year from JCB, along with £25,000 from AES Engineering and £15,000 for a "paid speech". Francis Maude, who is heading the Tories' preparations for government, earned £36,700 a year from Barclays for six days' work; £21,000 a year as non-executive chairman of the Mission Marketing Group (10 hours a month) and £10,000 a year from American-based consultancy Utek.
Mr Cameron has written to the Speaker, John Bercow, urging the Commons authorities to speed up the release of MPs' expenses for 2008-09, which are due to be published in October.
Shadow cabinet's second jobs: Their hourly rate (The minimum wage is £5.73)
£1,153: Shadow Schools Secretary Michael Gove earned £5,000 a month – or £60,000 a year – for "one hour a week or so" of journalism for The Times.
£764: Francis Maude, shadow Cabinet Office minister, earned £36,700 a year from Barclays Bank for six days a year of work, including overseas meetings.
£187.50: David Willetts was paid £60,000 a year for 40 days' work as an adviser on pensions for Punter Southall in London's Jermyn Street.
£145: Oliver Letwin worked eight hours a week giving corporate finance advice to investment bank NM Rothschild, earning £145 an hour, or just over £60,000 per annum.
£395: Shadow Business Secretary Ken Clarke was paid £38,000 as a non-executive director of Independent News and Media, owner of The Independent. He worked about one day a month.
£346: Andrew Mitchell, shadow International Development Secretary, was paid £36,000 a year for one to two hours a week of consultancy work with Accenture.
£260: Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley was paid £25,000 a year as a non-executive director for Profero, working one day a month.