NADHIM Zahawi has defended his ranking as the highest earning Conservative MP outside Parliament.
According to a report, from July last year to March, the government minister was raking in £765,000 unrelated to his pay as Stratford’s MP.
The MP was chief strategy officer at oil exploration company Gulf Keystone Petroleum – for which he received nearly £30,000 a month – along with some £3,000 a month as a director of recruitment company Sthree.
But the multi-millionaire – who co-founded market research firm YouGov – stepped down from his outside roles to serve as the junior minister for children and families in January – a decision he said he did not regret.
He also rents out a number of commercial properties through Zahawi & Zahawi which he co-directed with his wife Lana until early this year.
Mr Zahawi – whose basic salary as junior minister is around £90,000 – said: “I think it is healthy for politics that backbench politicians have a range of outside interests – properly declared of course – as if this were not possible it would be doing politics a disservice by only making it attractive to career politicians rather than to people from a wide variety of professional backgrounds.
“As a backbencher, all of my outside interests were fully declared and publicly accessible.
“Upon my promotion in January, I was more than happy to resign and give up all of my outside interests for what I believe is one of the best and most fulfilling jobs in government, to serve as the minister for children and families.”
The Public Life Standards Committee report follows calls for there to be more openness about MP’s outside interests.
It is calling for MPs to declare those interests on campaign leaflets distributed to constituents to allow greater scrutiny.
Committee chair Lord Bew said some MPs had taken up outside interests ‘beyond what might be considered reasonable’ and ‘risked undermining trust’ in Parliament.
According to the register, the total annual earnings from regular outside interests totals some £3.4million.