Nice Work! Tory MP Takes £500 Per Hour ‘Second Job’ at Slot Gaming Firm

Slot MachinesMembers of Parliament earn a handsome wage and an arsenal of additional perks that the Average Joe or Jane would be pleased with.

But the beauty of being a politician is that you are also allowed to act as a paid consultant for an employer – who, perhaps, gets to benefit from the MPs position of power thanks to some carefully-plotted lobbying.

Phillip Davies, the minister for Shipley in Yorkshire, has decided to cash in with the high street slot gaming operator Merkur, who believe that Davies can add value to their firm – and they’re willing to pay £500 an hour for the privilege….

Parliamentary Privilege

The official line is that Davies, who has been recommended for a knighthood by the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, will provide ‘strategic advice’ to the company, earning a £1,000 stipend for two hours of work per month.

Quite what advice Davies will be able to offer a firm that made £202 million in revenue in 2023 remains to be seen, although Merkur would not be the first commercial enterprise to lean on politicians in this way – others, such as Scott Benton, have come under scrutiny over alleged lobbying and ‘cash for questions’.

The former MP for Blackpool South was caught offering to lobby his fellow politicians on behalf of a number of gambling operators – his subsequent complaint over how he was treated in the undercover sting by The Times newspaper was thrown out by the Independent Press Standards Organisation.

Craig Whittaker, another Yorkshire MP, wrote a column for the Conservative Home website in which he derided the Gambling Commission for being too ‘heavy handed’ in their regulation – it was later revealed that he had accepted more than £8,000 worth of sports tickets and hospitality packages from his friends in the sector; including seats at a Madonna concert paid for by the Betting & Gaming Council.

And then we circle back round to Davies himself, who in 2023 was caught lobbying the government on behalf of the Les Ambassadeurs Casino in Mayfair, London.

According to reports, Davies approached Lucy Frazer – the culture secretary – to introduce a new rule that would allow casinos to offer credit lines to all of their customers; miraculously, this amendment would later appear in the government’s White Paper of gambling industry reform.

It would be wrong to assume that the link-up between Davies and Merkur is nothing more than a partnership designed to furnish the slot gaming firm with additional acumen – they did record a net loss of £2 million last year, after all.

But Davies’ ability to get in the ear of his fellow MPs, at a time when the sector is undergoing its greatest regulatory changes in decades, is also, perhaps, worth every penny.

How Much Do MPs Earn?

The first question you may have about this episode is if politicians are elected by us to serve their constituency, why are they taking on a ‘second job’ in the first place?

Is it, let’s wonder aloud, because MPs don’t get paid very well?

The answer is a resounding no. According to the government’s own website, the basic salary for a Member of Parliament is £91,346 – roughly triple that of the average UK earnings.

In addition, MPs enjoy a handsome pension scheme and access to an expenses policy that could best be described as generous, at worst an opportunity to have your castle’s moat cleaned and the invoice sent to the taxpayer.

So is the reason that MPs take on these consultancy jobs with gambling firms because they’re brassic? Let’s face it, if you can’t live off £91,000 and change a year then that is some exotic lifestyle you’ve got there.

Are MPs Allowed Second Jobs?

Here’s another quandary: if MPs are doing their jobs properly and serving their constituents with maximum effort, would they have the time or energy to have a second job?

Well, apparently: “A Parliament composed entirely of full-time professional politicians would not serve the best interests of democracy.” That seems like an extraordinary leap of faith.

So there’s actually no rules against politicians having second jobs. They must declare what they are doing and how much they will earn, in the vague auspices of transparency, but otherwise they are free to do as they please as far as their employment is concerned.

Of course, some tact is taken – it’s unlikely that an MP will set up their own OnlyFans account, for example – but otherwise politicians have uncapped earning potential….particularly when their consultancy work, in inverted commas, only amounts to a couple of hours per month.