Tory MP hit by criticism over lucrative second job

Rival candidates unite in condemnation of Mark Lancaster's £150 per hour consultancy work

 

Conservative MP Mark Lancaster is today facing anger from rivals in his Milton Keynes North seat, after he rejected criticism of his earnings in a second job.

In a joint letter, Labour’s Emily Darlington, Lib Dem Paul Graham, the Greens’ Jennifer Marklew and UKIP’s Stuart Moore all pledged not to take second jobs in the event of their election in May.

Lancaster, a Tory whip and close ally of George Osborne, formerly had a second job at Palmer Capital, a real estate fund manager and venture capital backer from whom he reportedly earned £32,000 for 209 hours work. The letter said:

“We are united in our belief that the public want and deserve full-time commitment from whoever wins this forthcoming election. We have each committed that should we be elected we will not take any paid directorships or consultancies during our term of office.

“In addition, we would vote for legislation banning MPs holding directorships and consultancies and for a limit on what an MP can earn beyond his or her parliamentary salary.”

In response, Mr Lancaster said:

“My brief spell at PCP in 2011/12, knowledge of which, has been in the public domain for the last 3 years, was a valuable insight into the world of investment.

He also accused Labour of trying to make him leave the Amy Reserves, of which he has been a member for 27 years. But Emily Darlington criticised his focus on his Army Reserve career, saying that:

“Our current MP earned 3 times more in this parliament from paid consultancy for a property capital firm than with the army reserve.

“I have full respect for the army reserve and the men and women who serve in this public service.

“[Lancaster] has still failed to explain how his work with Palmer capital benefitted his constituents and whether he would take another paid consultancy if re-elected. I think voters have a right to know when making their mind up. I have pledged to have one job, if elected, representing the people of Milton Keynes North.”

Stuart Moore added:

“The objective of Emily’s comments and mine was geared around MPs having second jobs in the commercial field such as property companies, pharmaceutical companies, defence suppliers and IT or transport and being paid.

“The role of being a ‘consultant’ while being an MP smacks of feathering your own nest and not providing the kind of service demanded of an MP.”

Palmer Capital’s portfolio says that they have a ‘unique’ business model, and quotes The Times saying they have created a property millionaire every year since 1998.

Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter

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