New MPs declare multitude of directorships: The House of Commons' latest register of members' business interests is perused by Anthony Bevins, Political Editor

Anthony Bevins
Tuesday 12 January 1993 00:02
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THE TRADITIONAL profile of Tory MPs as company directors and consultants, with their Labour counterparts maintaining strong union and local government links, was reconfirmed yesterday by the first Commons Register of Members' Interests of the new Parliament.

Between them, 63 new Conservative MPs hold 41 directorships and 41 business consultancies, compared with 19 directorships and three consultancies held by the 69-strong new Labour intake.

But Labour's return was heavily unbalanced by John Gunnell, the new MP for Leeds South and Morley, who accounted for 14 directorships, 12 of them unremunerated, with such companies as Yorkshire Enterprise, White Rose Investments, and Opera North.

Mr Gunnell, who declared a pension from his days as a university teacher, also registered two consultancies; occasional work for Coopers Lybrand Deloitte, and York Consulting Ltd.

Among the members of the new Conservative intake, the most notable declaration was delivered by Nirj Deva, MP for Brentford and Isleworth, whose entry takes up half a page. He declared three directorships, six consultancies - including Rothman's International - trips to Copenhagen, Uganda, Sri Lanka, and Washington, as well as family interests in tea, rubber, and coconut plantations in Sri Lanka and interests in a distillery and residential property on the island.

The two other Conservative MPs with marathon declarations - both, coincidentally, previous representatives of Aberdeen South - are Gerald Malone (Winchester) and Iain Sproat (Harwich). Mr Malone, a solicitor, has four directorships, a consultancy with Texaco, and five clients, including Grampian Television.

Mr Sproat is chairman of two companies, a director of another, and his clients include American Airlines and Airbus Industrie, although he does not say what service he provides for them.

But the register does reveal some changes in the profile of the typical Conservative. James Clappison, the new MP for Cecil Parkinson's former seat, Hertsmere, now appears something of an anachronism with declared interests as a barrister, farmer and member of Lloyd's, and director of a family firm from which he receives rental income and in which he holds substantial shares.

Another untypical sample from the new Tory intake was Robert Spink, MP for Castle Point in Essex. A self-employed management consultant with no declared clients, he is a Dorset councillor and a director of Bournemouth International Airport - the ownership of which is divided between Dorset County Council and Bournemouth Borough Council.

Consultancies with privatised companies are, however, commonplace. Kenneth Baker, who was sacked from the Cabinet by John Major after the April election, has since become an adviser to the former state-owned Cable and Wireless, as well as to ICL plc, and has taken on three directorships, including one with Hanson plc. Tom King, Secretary of State for Defence before the election, has become a director of Electra Investment Trust Ltd.

Other Tory MPs with new interests in the privatised sector of industry are Andrew Bowden (Brighton Kemptown), parliamentary consultant to Southern Water; Ian Bruce (South Dorset), who has Southern Electricity as a client; Simon Coombs (Swindon), parliamentary consultant to British Telecom; Alan Haselhurst (Saffron Walden), consultant to National Power; and Tim Rathbone (Lewes), consultant to Seeboard plc.

One of the most curious consultancies declared by a new Conservative MP is that of Peter Atkinson (Hexham) whose client is the British Field Sports Society. The Commons already had the society's chairman, Sir Nicholas Bonsor (Upminster), and vice-chairman, Michael Colvin (Romsey and Waterside) on the Conservative benches.

Among the new Labour intake there was much less variety, but there were 11 councillors to keep Mr Spink company. Of the 69 new MPs, 31 were sponsored by trade unions, with the TGWU, NUM and GMB heading the list with four apiece. The Co-operative Party, however, sponsors five of the new Labour MPs.

The new Parliament contains 140 new MPs, of whom only 20 make a 'nil' return in the register.

Register of Members' Interests on 1st December 1992. Commons paper 325. HMSO; pounds 15.25.

(Photographs omitted)

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