As published on ledburyreporter.co.uk, Thursday 18 November, 2021.
NORTH Herefordshire MP Bill Wiggin has been highlighted as one of parliament’s high earners amid a row over members of parliament taking second jobs.
The focus on outside earnings follows an abortive attempt by the Government to spare Tory MP Owen Paterson from suspension by overhauling the standards system.
Attention then turned to revelations that Sir Geoffrey Cox MP had been working in the British Virgin Islands during lockdown. The former attorney general earned more than £150,000 as a lawyer advising the Caribbean tax haven.
Meanwhile, the publicly available Register of Members’ Financial Interests says North Herefordshire MP Bill Wiggin has for the past six years been managing director of Bermuda-based Emerging Asset Management (EAM), and since 2016 has also been director of two “fund platforms” in the Cayman Islands, and two in Bermuda.
He received director’s fees of £21,942 in February for these directorships, plus a £3,195 bonus, as well as £49,140 a year “for an expected eight hours a week for these two directorships and for my managing director role”.
EAM “provides fund managers with an innovative turnkey solution on how to start a hedge fund and launch new funds in Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and Delaware, USA”, its website says, with clients including “hedge funds, private equity funds, property funds, commodities funds and other fund types”.
He is also a non-executive director of Herefordshire payment collection firm Allpay, for which he receives £2,000 for “approximately 10 hours a year”.
He also listed “ad hoc income from lodgers at my London home, paid to my wife” in the register under “land and property giving rental income of over £10,000 a year”.
According to a recent report in The Times, Mr Wiggin has completed 426 hours of outside work in the past year, earning an extra £73,000.
Analysis by the newspaper also said his relationship with EAM had earned him a total of £200,000 since 2015.
Mr Wiggin, an Old Etonian, has been an MP since 2001 and currently has a majority of almost 25,000. He has not responded to a request for comment.
Liberal Democrat spokesman Phillip Howells, who is Ledbury’s Deputy Mayor and ran against Mr Wiggin in the 2019 general election, said MPs shouldn’t have other sources of income.
“It’s a good salary but not that high by international standards and could be more,” he said. “It’s about transparency – it would be better if MPs weren’t doing things that they could be questioned about.”
Hereford and south Herefordshire Labour Party chair Anna Coda agreed that being an MP should entail “a full-time commitment to the day job”, and backed calls to ban MPs from holding second jobs.
Green county councillor Ellie Chowns, who is the party’s group leader and represents Bishops Frome and Cradley, said: “Being an MP is a full-time, well-paid job and anyone who has the honour of being elected as MP should focus entirely on working for the public benefit, not for private interests.
“Moonlighting on the side is completely incompatible with the role of MP.”
MPs currently receive a basic salary of £81,932, plus expenses covering their parliamentary office costs, London or constituency residence, and travel between their constituency and Parliament.