ONE-THIRD of Scottish MPs have earned thousands of pounds outside their core job representing their constituents. 

A Herald on Sunday investigation has found that 20 of Scotland’s 59 MPs raked in up to £23,000 on top of their £82,000 parliamentary salary in the last year.  

They have also spent hundreds of hours conducting surveys, playing sports or doing media work to earn extra cash.  

It comes amid widespread discussion about MPs earnings and other commitments on top of their responsibilities to the electorate.  

Boris Johnson said earlier this month that he was not opposed to second jobs, after it emerged one of his own MPs had raked in more than £1 million in legal fees last year. 

Sir Geoffrey Cox has denied any wrongdoing, despite being reported to the Standards Commissioner for appearing to use his parliamentary office for external legal work.  

He said he would comply with the investigation, after being referred by Labour’s deputy Angela Rayner. 

HeraldScotland:

Boris Johnson

The barrister earned around £900,000 working for the government of the British Virgin Islands on an inquiry into corruption and governance on the island. 

During the coronavirus lockdown in April and May this year, Sir Geoffrey also spent time in the Caribbean and used proxy powers to cast votes in the Commons. He said he consulted with the Conservatives’ chief whip Mark Spencer prior to the legal work trip.  

READ MORE: Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross 'sorry' and reports himself to Standards Commissioner over £28,000 of undeclared salaries

However, the revelations of his earnings have generated public discussion about whether MPs should be allowed to have any sort of second income at all, and how much time they should be allowed to spend on other jobs.  

According to the register of members’ financial interests, 20 Scottish MPs earned between £100 and £22,830.75 since September 2020, working between one and 90 hours on top of their parliamentary jobs.  

Ross’ £28k 

HOWEVER, Douglas Ross, who we revealed yesterday failed to declare about £28,000 of earnings, has topped the list of the MPs making the most on top of their core jobs in Westminster. 

According to the Scottish Tory leader’s register of interests, he earned £5,106.70 for about 13.5 hours’ work refereeing football matches. 

He failed to declare his £21,000 salary as an MSP, or fees for 16 other matches he had refereed and was paid for between November and January. This brings his total outside earnings to £32,835, although he donates his MSP salary to charity.  

Mr Ross has referred himself  to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner and apologised for the omissions, and has also now reported all the earnings to the relevant bodies.  

HeraldScotland:

Douglas Ross

Ian Blackford earned the most of the SNP MPs, raking in more than £22,000 as chairman of Golden Charter Trust Ltd, a company which holds, invests and administers funds from people who buy funeral plans.  

The SNP Westminster leader has since given up the role, as of March 31 this year, and spent less than 16 hours working for the firm.  

Mr Blackford told The Herald on Sunday the role did not detract from his ability to represent his constituents, but agreed there had to be discussion on the number of hours MPs were spending on outside jobs.  

John Nicolson, the SNP’s culture spokesman, was the second-highest earning Scottish MP. 

Mr Nicolson, who represents Ochil and South Perthshire, spent 90 hours between September 2020 and April 2021 working on a Sunday radio show. 

The MP earned about £18,000 for the work, but no longer presents the show.  

Mr Nicolson said: “MPs are entitled to some time off at the weekend.  

“Although I no longer do it, I have, in the past, spent three hours on Sunday afternoons presenting a current affairs radio show from home. “  

‘Justified’ 

ASKED for his views on MPs’ second jobs, he said there were “some situations” where it could be justified. 

He explained: “Those with medical qualifications have to do some ongoing medical work to maintain their registration.  

“I know Dr Philippa Whitford [SNP MP for Central Ayrshire] has also helped out, on occasion, at busy holiday periods at her local hospital.  

“She has also volunteered in Gaza during parliamentary recess giving valuable training to medics on the ground there.” 

HeraldScotland:

Ian Blackford 

He said there had been previous outrage at Ms Whitford’s work “as if it was somehow equivalent to moonlighting with a City consultancy.” 

He added: “I think most reasonable people can make a distinction between Dr Whitford in Gaza teaching breast cancer surgery during her Christmas break and Geoffrey Cox in the Caribbean earning vast fees on private legal cases.  

“And I doubt people are outraged by Angus B MacNeil [SNP MP for the Western Isles] shearing sheep.  

“The issue surely has to be: are you skiving and /or lobbying?”  

READ MORE: Millionaire MP Geoffrey Cox denies rule breaking after using Commons office for legal work

Alba MP Kenny MacAskill has earned about £18,000, according to his register, for writing newspaper columns and magazine articles for The Scotsman and DC Thomson between September 2020 and the present.   

The register states he works about 15 hours, earning approximately £1,020 a month for the articles.   

‘One hour work’ 

THE former Scottish justice secretary said his weekly column took “one hour” and he “writes it on the train”. 

He added: “Like most politicians I write columns for local and national publications. Two regular columns, which predate my election, are remunerated.” 

Paisley SNP MP Mhairi Black also earned money for her fortnightly column in The National, taking about £4,950 between September 2020 and now.  She donates the money to charity. 

Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael registered that he earned £750 attending meetings for The House magazine, a political magazine focused mainly on the activities of Westminster. 

HeraldScotland:

Kenny MacAskill 

Pete Wishart has earned about £5,100 in the last year, for working no extra hours. He was paid royalties for his music with the band Runrig, which he joined in 1986. 

The MP for Perth and North Perthshire is also in a political band, MP4, alongside former Labour MP Ian Cawsey, Tory MP Sir Greg Knight and Labour MP Kevin Brennan. Mr Wishart earned £960.28 for a performance over Christmas, taking about seven hours including rehearsal time.  

The Herald on Sunday found 12 MPs who have earned smaller sums for carrying out surveys for polling firms such as YouGov, Ipsos Mori and Yonder Consultancy. Declarations range from Lisa Cameron, SNP MP, spending 15 minutes on a survey and being paid £100 to Patrick Grady, who has earned £3,125 for 17 hours and 45 minutes’ work on the questionnaires.  

Gave to charity 

THE other MPs who earned from sharing their opinions included SNP MPs Dave Doogan, who made £2,540 for 26 hours 40 minutes’ work; Gavin Newlands, who made £1,455 from nine hours work and gave the money to Paisley and Renfrewshire North SNP; Peter Grant, who spent five hours and 25 minutes and donated the £1,435 earnings to charity; and Drew Hendry and Anne McLaughlin, who both earned about £380 and donated the money to charity. 

Alan Brown spent five hours on surveys for £1,075, while Amy Callaghan spent two-and-a-half hours for £470.  

Finally, Patricia Gibson received £675 for five-and-a-half hours’ work on surveys, Neale Hanvey received £100 for one hour, and Martyn Day got £275 for on-and-a-half hours’ work on the questionnaires.  

The question of whether MPs should have second jobs at all, as well as overall standards within Parliament, is set to rumble on when MPs return to the Chamber on Tuesday this week. 

The Conservatives have acknowledged that their attempt to change the rules on how parliamentarians are investigated for rule-breaking was a mistake, and will now seek cross-party agreement on a new system for inquiry.

However, there may still be changes to come on whether politicians should have second incomes, and at what level they should be set at, following the outrage over Sir Geoffrey’s earnings.