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MP...a full time job?

May 2008

Cash for Comrades

It was MP versus MPs this morning. On the surface it was civil and polite but there was crackling resentment behind the exchanges.

On November 2007 Gordon Prentice and I raised the issue of

?Cash for Comrades? at the Public Administration Select Committee. There are �73 billion worth of contracts up for grabs to clean up the mess left behind by our last disastrous use of nuclear power. That?s before we start on the new disaster.

They were reports that two of our parliamentary Labour colleagues had taken jobs with firms bidding for the fat contracts. Iain McCartney was said to have a job with Fluor for �115,000 a year, Richard Caborn with Amec at �75,000.

This morning Richard Caborn appeared before the committee. He was in combative mood. He began with a storming defence of his engineering credentials. He was once ?the apprentice of the year? and he had engineered up and down the country ever since as boy and man. What?s more the firm that pays him the dosh is in his constituency. He has to work for his constituents.

I asked him if he thought an MP?s job is a fulltime one? He said it was. This took the wind out of his sails a bit. As he has Amec on his patch, I have E.A.D.S. Lifeforce and big firms that I promote as vigorously as I can. I said if one of them offered me a bung of seventy grand I would regard it as a corrupt practise.

I did not tell the committee but one local firm offered me a service that I would like but cannot afford. Had I accepted it I would have had to declare it and my ability to promote the company would be undermined.

Richard?s testimony will be studied with care. Promoting a constituency firm and constituency jobs does not an additional income of more than an MP?s salary. The job of an MP is more than a fulltime. Most of us regret that there are not 48 hours in every so that we can do justice to the demands of our constituents.

My Newport West constituents would go berserk if I told that I was taking a second job with a second salary but still staying on as their MP. They would certainly kick me out at the next election. Quite right too.