It has been quite an inspiration to us to watch the way MPs have come forward to declare their sources of income, and the way they have unhesitatingly given just about as much information as they think they can get away with. But I don't see why MPs should be the only ones to have to do this, so as a public duty I am going to come clean today myself and reveal just how much money I am paying Members of Parliament on a regular basis, and what I am paying them to do.
Sir Edward Heath: For going on television and radio at a moment's notice whenever Europe is in the news to bore us all silly and thus get the topic out of the headlines again; for standing by in case Margaret Thatcher should make a bid to get back into power and if necessary hit her with his handbag; for working on his new book The Joy of Europe and for promising not to complete it; for agreeing not to conduct in public ever again - pounds 5,000 per week.
Michael Heseltine: For agreeing not to make his final push for power and topple John Major from office until I give him the say so - pounds 5,000 per week.
David Mellor: For undertaking to act as consultant to various large companies such as British Aerospace, and giving them the impression that the information he is giving them is not a lot of twaddle; for undertaking not to churn out more than five articles a day on opera and Glyndebourne, and for undertaking not to go on air about football, opera, etc, etc - pounds 5,000 a day.
Note: as Mr Mellor has signally failed to abide by any of these undertakings, he has not been paid anything by me for two years.
Tony Blair: For acting as a consultant to this column on Christian matters - pounds 300 per week.
John Prescott: For acting as consultant to this column on the lore and language of the middle class - pounds 300 a week.
Tony Benn: For acting as consultant on upper-class mores - pounds 600 a week, paid to socialist charities.
John Major: For agreeing to adopt my suggestion of behaving at Prime Minister's Question Time as if he were the pub bore in some interminable bar-room conversation - ie, by leaning up against the dispatch box on one elbow and looking round him with an ineffable grin of self-satisfaction and thus destroying all credibility that he might otherwise gain from what he is actually saying; also, for agreeing to delay his dismissal of Mr Heseltine as Deputy Prime Minister and thus spiking Mr Heseltine's ambitions for all time until I give him the say so; also, for letting me exclusively have the date of the next general election, ta, John - pounds 40,000 a week in cash.
Malcolm Rifkind: For agreeing to go to a speech therapist to get that strangled semi-Scottish accent straightened out - pounds 500 now, pounds 5,000 on completion.
Rupert Allason: For various spying and intelligence jobs - pounds 50,000 per annum.
Roy Hattersley: For acting as a consultant to my forthcoming sensational expose television drama set in the House of Commons, entitled There's no such thing as a free lunch especially when Roy Hattersley is one of the number and is going for the full menu - pounds 7,000 a year in luncheon vouchers.
Norman Lamont: For consistently getting cushy consultancy jobs with all the best people, and for equally consistently failing to get selected for any constituency anywhere as a Tory candidate, and thus demonstrating to all but the most cynical that you don't even have to be an MP to get cushy consultancy jobs with all the best people - pounds 5,000 a week.
Brian Mawhinney: For giving pleasure to a lot of people by agreeing to be spattered by egg and paint by my operatives; for insisting on being addressed as Doctor, and thus sounding about as authentic as his countryman Ian Paisley; for giving a lot of people a lot of pleasure by sounding absolutely convinced that the Tories are going to win the next election and that they want to win it - Equity rates.
My thanks to all these and many more for accepting money so unquestioningly. Full list of MPs in my pay on application.
Yesterday, due to a rush of blood from the head, I referred to Radio 3's excellent jazz presenter as Mel Smith. This should, of course, have been Mel Hill.
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