Well I declare! The things ministers, and their close relatives, get up to

List of government members’ special interests shows PM’s passion for tennis, IDS’s love of the opera and that Theresa May is a patron of the Pink Shoe Club

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Indy Politics

David Cameron is a patron of 29 organisations, ranging from the Westminster Foundation for Democracy to Chipping Norton Lido, and holds unpaid offices in another 22, including the presidency of the United and Cecil Club, a fundraising organisation for the Tory Party, and the Lords and Commons Tennis Club.

The long list of good causes to which the Prime Minister lends his name is included in the latest List of Ministers’ Interests, published on Thursday. Cynics noted that it was brought out late on a Friday afternoon, when it was least likely to attract attention. The last “annual” list was published two years ago. The new 54-page list includes ministers appointed since the last register was published.

All MPs have to register their financial interests whether they  are in the Government or not, but the rules require ministers to  declare details that other MPs are not asked to provide, such as the positions held by members of their immediate family.

The register reveals that Samantha Cameron, the Prime Minister’s wife, is the patron of four charities and an ambassador for both the British Fashion Council, and Save the Children. It also records that her mother, Viscountess Astor, wife of William Astor, the 4th Viscount Astor, is chief executive of the luxury furniture dealer OKA.

Other notes say: “Mr Cameron’s brother is a barrister, specialising in criminal law. One of Mr Cameron’s sisters is employed as the clinical manager at The Recovery Centre in London. Mr Cameron’s father-in-law is Sir Reginald Sheffield.”

It is common for leaders of the Conservative Party to allow their names to appear on the letter heads of charities and other worthy bodies, and they often stay there, even after a change in the Party’s leader.

Iain Duncan Smith, the current Work and Pensions Secretary, who led the party from  2001 to 2003, is patron of 15  societies, and president of the Chapel End Savoy Players, an amateur operatic society based in Walthamstow, north London.

The Foreign Secretary, William Hague, who led the Conservatives from 1997 to 2001, is patron of 11 societies, as well as being the vice president of the Battle of Britain Historical Society, Richmondshire Cricket Club and the Yorkshire Dales Society.

The register also shows that there are ministers with close relatives doing jobs outside politics which could be affected by what the  ministers’ decide.

David Laws, the Schools minister, declared that his sister-in-law and his partner’s sister are both teachers. Health minister Norman Lamb has a sister and sister-in-law working in the National Health Service.

The brother of the recently appointed environment minister, George Eustice, himself a former farmer, is chair of the British Lop Pig Association.

Perhaps the least surprising declaration of a family member’s profession is from Jo Johnson, head of the Downing Street Policy Unit, who declares that he has a brother who – in case anybody did not already know – is the Mayor of London.