In reading an article in the guardian by a journalist whose name I don’t wish to type I came down upon the comments section a few people demanding that MP’s publish all they earn every year so the public can see if they are paying enough tax.  Now these people obviously don’t know about the Register of Members Interests, a public document in which MP’s have to list their earnings for all to see.  Now I know it does not say how much tax they pay but it’s a jolly interesting read. 

Which spurned me on to have a look at the latest version that’s up for all to see, purely out of curiosity. What caught my eye when I opened it was the amount of money one MP got from doing 3 hours’ work for the jolly good show that is “this week”.  Now that MP was Diane Abbot and she earned £869 per 3 hour work, which is roughly £290 per hour.  So over the 6 month period listed she earned £5214 for 18 hours work, which works out to a wage of £573,000pa.  Now obviously she doesn’t work a 38 hour week for the BBC but it’s still an awful lot. 

However to leave it there would be wrong, and very biased of me to pick on “poor” Diane Abbot, so I decided to peruse the rest of the register to see what the BBC pays other MP’s for guest appearances on both radio and telly.  This is what I found listed in money earned;

  1. Alan Johnson (Lab); £22,750 for a total of 44 hours’ work (£517ph)
  2. Diane Abbot (Lab) £5214 for 18 hours work (£290ph)
  3. Frank Field (Lab) occasional appearances on radio 4 up to £5,000
  4. Tristram Hunt (Lab) £4097.89 18 hours’ work (£227ph)
  5. Charles Kennedy (Lib) £1600 for 4 hours’ work (£400ph)
  6. Bob Ainsworth (Lab) £1,500 for 5 hours’ work (£300ph)
  7. Gisela Stuart (Lab)  £1000 for 4 hours’ work (plus two appearances on ‘Any Questions’, for £150 each) (£200ph)
  8. Rory Stewart (Con) £1148 total 5 hours’ work (£229.60ph)
  9. Hazel Blears (Lab) £500 for 40 minutes work (£750ph)
  10. Caroline Lucas (Green) £300 for 5 hours work (£60ph)
  11. Patrick Mercer (Con) £300 for 3hours’s and 40 min work ( £81ph)
  12. Susan Jones (Lab) £300 for 4 hours work (£75ph)
  13. David Lammy (Lab) £300 for 2 radio appearances
  14. Ben Bradshaw (Lab) £237.70 2 hours’ work and travel (£118ph)

  • David Davis (Con), Stephen Dorrell (Con), Matthew Hancock (Con), Bernard Jenkin (Lab), Elfyn Llwyd (PC), Stephen Pound (Lab) and Jacob Rees-Mogg (Con) all having 1 entry totalling less than £200 for assorted radio apperances.   

Now some of them I couldn’t calculate the hourly rate because they had not listed just how long they were taking part for like Mr Field and those with small payments.  But at a brief glance of the figures the shock I got last night calculating how much Diane Abbot was paid pails in to insignificance with the payments for Alan Johnson and Hazel Blears who both earn over £500 per hour, closely followed by Charles Kennedy at £400ph. 

Now here is where my problems with it lay.  Now the BBC prides itself on being impartial and providing a balanced view on the news and especially on politics but if you look at the figures 9 out of the top 10 earners are all MP’s who are politically on the left  leaving only Rory Stewart the only Conservative in the top 10.  Now those of us on the right have always doubted the BBC’s true impartiality in recent years but this alone starts to raise questions about that. 

The second issue I have is the sums of money; those politicians being paid to appear on political shows are in all intense and purposes being paid to put across the political views of the party they represent.  So in effect we the license payers are paying Diane Abbot to preach to us about the Labour party.  That’s what I have a problem with, I am happy to give every political party air time to disseminate their ideas and ideology, but what I object to is finding out that they are then being paid by the BBC to do so.   

If we total up the fees from the top ten it comes to £43,109.89 for probably no more than 150 hours’ worth of work.  Now surely the BBC could employ 2 fulltime people on £21,000 a year rather than pay politicians to tell us the same thing they do all the time.  Is this really a good use of license payers money?

Now I know this is only the tip of the ice berg and I could have looked at payments from SKY TV or ITV or Channel 4 as well as all the newspapers.  But those organisations do not go on about being impartial politically; we know the Guardian leans to the left and the Telegraph to the right.  We know Sky is influenced by what pair of socks Rupert Murdoch is wearing on a particular day.  But the BBC is supposed to be impartial, and these figures alone raise certain questions as to really if the BBC is impartial, and actually does lean to the left even if it tries to keep up the pretence it does not.

Maybe just maybe we should consider should the BBC really be funded this way anymore, we now have hundreds of TV channels in the UK at our disposal and is it really fair that one of them gets £145 per house hold to keep it running.  The other TV channels all seem to survive funding themselves, so maybe it’s time to set the BBC free and let it go off in to the big wide world on its own to take care of itself. 

All the information for this blog was obtained from The Register of Members Interests, viewable