A Tory MP comes up with a very Tory way to avoid lobbying scandals - pay MPs more
Sir Peter Bottomley believes the basic salary for MPs of £81,932 per year isn't enough
Sir Peter Bottomley says MPs should be paid more to prevent a future lobbying scandal, a day after a former government minister was forced to resign having committed an "egregious breach" of lobbying rules.
The Father-of-the-House's comments come the same day a Cabinet Minister was forced to apologise for the government's botched attempt to rewrite MPs' conduct rules, which has once again seen Boris Johnson's government marred by sleaze allegations.
On Thursday, disgraced Tory MP Owen Paterson was forced to resign, following a monumental public outcry.
Paterson had been receiving £100,000 a year acting as a consultant for two firms. The Tory MP then lobbied the government on behalf of the firms, winning a £133m coronavirus testing contract for Randox.
Following 24-hours of public backlash, the government was forced into a humiliating climbdown over a decision not to suspend the "egregious" lobbyist.
To prevent a similar scandal, a Tory MP has advised paying MPs a better salary.
Writing in The Times Red Box Sir Peter suggested that while the £82k might attract someone on a low-salary to become an MP, wealthier prospects are discouraged by the measly figure.
Sir Peter said: "Thick skin, a raincoat, and a sense of proportion are what I recommend to prospective members of parliament.
"Who can serve? Someone on a low income may find the financial adjustment welcome, while the well-off will not be particularly bothered by the pay level."
Sir Peter, whose salary is nearly three times the UK average, voted to cut welfare and benefits 49 times between 2012 and 2016.
Living on such a stipend (£82,000), Sir Peter believes, is "desperately difficult" for the younger MPs.
Currently, there are no rules prohibiting MPs from being paid for advising external businesses, so long as they record it in their register of interests and do not lobby the Government on behalf of those businesses.
The highest-paid "consultant" is former International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell, who works for several firms and receives £182,600 per year.
Former Transport Secretary Chris Grayling is paid an astonishing £100,000 per annum by Hutchison Ports Europe, and Chief Whip Julian Smith receives nearly £144,000 per year from three different companies.
And the gravy train doesn't end once they lose their seat. Former Prime Minister David Cameron made over £3.3m from collapsed finance company Greensill Capital.
He was later found to have attempted to lobby the Chancellor on behalf of Greensill.
In 2019, Labour attempted a series of political reforms that would include a ban on MPs having second jobs, although this is yet to be re-pledged under current Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer.