MPs with second jobs face conflict of interest probe
MPs who have second jobs are facing a conflict of interest probe from a House of Commons committee.
There are concerns that Members of Parliament who serve on informal parliamentary groups while working in second jobs could be exploiting a lobbying loophole.
An inquiry by the Standards Committee will look at whether MPs who sit on All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) that lobby for certain industries should no longer be paid by organisations in those same industries.
The Committee launched an inquiry into APPGs, which are suspected to be a way for vested interests further their commercial agendas.
Former Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns is vice-chair of the APPG on taxis, which has agreed to “continue pressuring the government to provide urgent financial support for taxi drivers”.
The MP for the Vale of Glamorgan is also paid as a senior adviser to Veezu, the private hire and taxi firm based in Newport. He makes £15,000-a-year by providing “strategic advice” to the firm according to the register of interests.
Veezu, describes itself as the “UK’s leading multi-region private hire taxi company” and took over Cardiff’s Dragon Taxis in 2015.
The company’s website promises prospective drivers: “When you partner with Veezu you gain the flexibility and support you need to drive your way to success.”
But the company has been criticised over its treatment of drivers and trade unions by Stephen Doughty, the Labour MP for Cardiff South and Penarth.
Speaking in the Commons in 2017, Doughty said: “I am concerned that companies such as Dragon and Veezu, who operate taxi firms, are not willing to meet drivers to discuss their concerns or to meet the GMB. That is of great concern to me.”
Later that year he said the company had “dealt with some of the charges and unfair fees that drivers faced.”
Nation.Cymru has previously revealed Cairns had accepted a £15,000-a-year job as an advisor to the BBI Group, a firm working on Covid-19 tests.
It means the former secretary of State for Wales now earns more from his side jobs than the average annual earnings of workers across Wales (£25,680) or in his constituency (£28,022).
His total earnings are at least £121,932-a-year when his £81,932 MPs’ salary and income from a rental property in Cardiff are taken into account.
His commitment of up to 70 hours to each role also means he could spend the equivalent of three and a half working weeks on his outside interests.
Cairns says he has consulted ACoBA, the UK government’s anti-corruption watchdog, about the new appointment but their advice has not yet been published.
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.