Kent and Surrey MPs
We have 29 MPs in Kent and Surrey (see later for a complete list), almost all of whom are Conservative, with just one who is a Labour MP and one other who is the LibDem leader. All MPs are contactable directly @parliament.uk (if they’re not busy pursuing other activities outside Westminster or their constituencies).
So, what price democratic representation and political activity?
An MP’s basic salary is fixed at £84,144. This does not include additional expenses for their Westminster or constituency offices and staff. Those who have additional duties such as Cabinet posts, including Michael Gove (Surrey Heath), Dominic Raab (Esher & Walton) and Jeremy Hunt (South-West Surrey), are paid more than the basic MP’s salary, as indeed are ministers, current, recent or former (it’s hard to keep up after so many changes in Government!), or members or chair-people of House of Commons Select Committees, such as Tom Tugendhat (Tonbridge & Malling), Chris Grayling (Epsom & Ewell) and Roger Gale (North Thanet), among others. It also doesn’t include additional benefits such as pension fund contributions (or their severance payments on leaving Parliament, whether through resignation, sacking, retirement, death or not being re-elected).
First, some basic arithmetic. Based on just basic salaries, the total in salaries for Kent and Surrey’s MPs is just over £2.44 million (actually, £2,440,176) annually. According to the Register of Members’ Interests (as of 9 January 2023), those 29 MPs have received a total of £2.4 million (actually, £2,387,320) in payments from outside Westminster, donations and ‘gifts’ since the last General Election. This is subject to ongoing revision and errors, or omissions that are excluded, but it gives a pretty good picture of the price and value of political representation in the South-East of England.
Where to find them
The figures are available to everyone from a long search for publicly available data on the Westminster database of Members’ Interests. Now, helpfully, they have been consolidated by Sky News and Tortoise Media into one area and will be complemented by a similar Westminster website by July 2023, according (9 January 2023) to Chris Bryant MP, Chairman of the Committee on Standards and Privileges.
MPs’ other activities
In simple terms, the total is an uplift of some 97.8% on top of the basic pay the MPs receive. However, it’s not fair to apply this as a simple brush stroke over all the 29 Members. There are some notable highs and lows. At the top of the Surrey league is Sir Ed Davey, LibDem Leader, at £441,600, closely followed by Michael Gove at £352,500. Top of the Kent league is Tom Tugendhat at £289,400. Bottom rankers are Angela Richardson (Guildford) at £3,260 and Helen Whateley (Faversham & Mid Kent) at just £2,000. The rest are at all stations in between, varying between some £4,000 and £250,000, give or take a thousand or two.
These figures do not include their personal assets, nor do they list their ‘business interests’ or investments such as shares or bonds.
It is frequently argued that an MP’s life is tough: with very long hours, often seven days a week, constant visibility (assuming they turn up for debates and votes) and scrutiny, publicly and in the media. Still, it’s not at all clear how much time MPs devote to other activities outside Westminster and constituency work, but there must be a cost of some distraction – ‘no gain without pain’.
The fog of receipts
The public records reveal who gets what – they don’t reveal how much is used for either local constituency expenses or administrative expenses, nor do they reveal how much might have been devoted to charities or local campaigns. Also, they don’t reveal how much MPs are paid (note I say ‘paid’, not ‘earned’, as the latter is for work actually done rather than just ‘bunged’ to an MP) for other activities outside their parliamentary duties. There is no obligation for MPs to publish their tax returns, which would reveal their receipts, expenses or charitable donations. As the HMRC says on its website, it has a ‘statutory duty of confidentiality … which [they] will only disclose where [they] are legally allowed to do so’.
There will be no clarity in the fog of political receipts until MPs are obliged to publish their tax returns, which would reveal their true personal receipts, expenses and charitable donations; unlike the situation in the USA, where politicians are compelled to disclose their tax returns, as former President Donald Trump has discovered despite the very expensive legal defence that he has had to engage in attempts to prevent his tax returns being made publicly visible.
However, being an MP is a life choice, whether through passionate political commitment or just plain old narcissism. So, a public position inevitably leads to visibility, exposure and even revelation.
The figures above show that MPs can double their income by doing work beyond their basic Parliamentary duties as an MP. But what isn’t known is how much of this is earned by work which enhances their political work and how much is for something else, like a bung for influence.
Bless them all. The next round on the political playing board is on them (sometime before the end of 2025), methinks …
KENT MPs’ receipts over and above basic salaries and expenses
Ashford: Damian Green (nil)*
Canterbury: Rosie Duffield (£20,990)
Chatham & Aylesford: Tracey Crouch (£106,200)
Dartford: Gareth Johnson (nil)*
Dover: Natalie Elphicke (£98,870)
Folkestone & Hythe: Damian Collins (£48,420)
Gillingham & Rainham: Rehman Chisti (£40,870)
Gravesham: Adam Holloway (£33,010)
Maidstone & The Weald: Helen Grant (£47,420)
North Thanet: Roger Gale (nil)*
Rochester & Strood: Kelly Tolhurst (£46,500)
Sevenoaks: Laura Trott (£22,790)
Sittingbourne & Sheppey: Gordon Henderson (£3,890)
South Thanet: Craig Mackinlay (£35,380)
Tonbridge & Malling: Tom Tughendhat (£289,400)
Tunbridge Wells: Greg Clark (£23,550)
SURREY MPs’ receipts over and above basic salaries and expenses
East Surrey: Claire Coutinho (£13,620)
Epsom & Ewell: Chris Grayling (£264,400)
Esher & Walton: Dominic Raab (£79,050)
Guildford: Angela Richardson (£3,260)
Kingston & Surbiton: Ed Davey (£441,600)
Mole Valley: Paul Beresford (£17,560)
Reigate: Crispin Blunt (£116,700)
Runnymede & Weybridge: Ben Spencer (£21,700)
South-West Surrey: Jeremy Hunt (£251,000)
Spelthorne: Kwasi Kwarteng (£25,000)
Surrey Heath: Michael Gove (£352,500)
Woking: Jonathan Lord (nil)*
(Those asterisked have undisclosed additional Westminster payments as members of select committees.)
Editor’s Note: Full disclosure for all MPs (just type the MP’s name, constituency or postcode) is available from Westminster Accounts on the Sky News website. A podcast is also available from the Institute for Government.