Friday, July 23, 2004

Can he afford to go?

Little Mandy might get a whacking £194,500 a year for going to Brussels – on which he will pay tax at a much reduced rate, owing to a comfortable deal with the Belgian government – but that may be chicken feed compared with what he is getting already.

According to his entry in the House of Commons Register of Interests, he has a number of money-spinning ventures on the go, not least a directorship with the Clemmow Hornby Inge; advertising agency, and a pile of other remunerated activities.

These include writing a monthly column for GQ Magazine, for which he gets paid £10,000-£15,000 a year. He is also a member of International Advisory Board of Independent News and Media PLC and an adviser to AM Conseil, an "industrial consultancy on strategic development". He is an occasional contributor to Daily Mirror, for which he gets paid up to £5,000, and likewise for the Financial Times, which also generously doshes him another five grand.

Our Mandy also takes full advantage of the lucrative conference circuit, getting paid to speak at venues arranged by, amongst others, the Investment Property Databank, RBS Advanta, Ernst & Young, the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers, and the ISPCC. On top of that, he gets free trips, all-expenses paid, to numerous exotic places, such as Russia, New York, Houston, Johannesburg, Israel, Korea, Berlin, Vienna, Cape Town, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore.

Should he join the commission, however, he is prohibited from engaging in any other professional activity, whether paid or unpaid. Even writing a regular column is regarded as a professional activity – although readers will be pleased to know that giving courses free of charge in the interests of European integration is permitted.  It is not clear, however, whether a continued relationship with Hartlepool FC is permitted.

That apart, if Mandy so much as thinks about writing a book, he has to notify the President and any royalties earned must be paid over to a charity of their choice. And he cannot accept any form of payment for delivering speeches or taking part in conferences.

Given all those restrictions, one wonders whether the man can actually afford to go. But then, he does have his pension to think of.

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