Boris Johnson urged to donate £2.3 million extra earnings on top of MP’s salary to charity
Boris Johnson should donate the millions of pounds he has earned through making speeches since quitting as prime minister to good causes in his constituency, ministers have heard.
Labour MP John McDonnell, whose Hayes and Harlington constituency neighbours Mr Johnson’s, suggested the Uxbridge and South Ruislip MP should give his extra earnings to charities in the area hit by the impact of council cutbacks.
The former prime minister earned £2.3 million in the 12 months to the end of January, on top of the £84,000 salary he receives as an MP.
Almost all of that money has come in since Mr Johnson left Downing Street in September, and includes £1.8 million in speaking fees and £510,000 for his upcoming memoirs, declared in the official register of MPs financial interests last month.
His total outside earnings make him the highest-paid MP over the past year, far outstripping his predecessor Theresa May, who declared £965,000 in speaking fees.
In the Commons, Labour MP for Leeds East Richard Burgon urged MPs to back his private members Bill aimed at banning MPs from taking on second jobs, apart from for exceptional reasons such as having to maintain professional qualifications or working on the NHS front line.
Mr Burgon added: “My Bill would also allow MPs to carry out certain paid work like media appearances or speeches if the entire outside earning is donated to charity. That way we can be sure that these activities are about public service, not about private enrichment.”
Intervening, Mr McDonnell said: “Hillingdon Council, of which the Uxbridge constituency is contained within, is going through one of the most massive cutbacks of its voluntary sector at the moment, including the local autistic group, Samaritans and others.
“Wouldn’t it be really helpful if the £5 million that the member for Uxbridge earned could be donated to those charities?”
Mr Burgon replied: “That is a fantastic suggestion from him. Why doesn’t the former prime minister donate that £5 million to these important causes in his constituency? Let’s invite him to do so and let’s see what he does.”
The Leeds East MP later added: “Banning second jobs for MPs is about taking an important step to restore the integrity of our democracy. No one can serve two masters and for MPs their priority must be their constituents.”
Cabinet Office minister Alex Burghart said the Government believes that an outright ban on second jobs is “unnecessary” as existing rules in the code of conduct for MPs “effectively address concerns around paid advocacy, and emphasise the duty of MPs to properly serve their constituents and represent their interests in Parliament”.
The minister added: “He made clear that he finds some members of this House earning a great deal of money unpalatable and unsavoury. And he’s entitled to those views.
“But I go back to him and say, it isn’t for him to decide whether that should rule that person out of being an MP. The people who get to decide that are not him, and they are not even the Government, the people who should have the final say on whether those people are MPs are their voters.”
Mr Burgon responded: “What about this then for an idea – if they are not prepared to ban second jobs as I think they should, what about passing legislation where the outside earnings of every MP is listed under their name on the ballot paper at the general election?”
The minister replied: “He might find if he did that people would be asking for a lot of other information to be published about members at the ballot box too. But the public are perfectly capable and willing to find out about people they vote for… voters are often, in my experience, very well informed.”
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