Exclusive

Revealed: 90% of Tories who made £1.3m from second jobs voted against free school meals

10 November 2021, 17:32 | Updated: 10 November 2021, 18:17

A total of 27 Conservative MPs who work as consultants for private companies voted against free school meals
A total of 27 Conservative MPs who work as consultants for private companies voted against free school meals. Picture: Alamy
Matthew Thompson

By Matthew Thompson

Almost 100 per cent of Conservative MPs who work second jobs as consultants for private firms voted against free school meals, LBC can reveal.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

There are a total of 30 Conservative MPs who have listed work as consultants for private companies - in total their earnings last year were close to £1.3 million.

LBC analysis shows that last year, 27 of those 30, or 90 per cent, voted against extending free school meals to poor children over the Christmas holidays.

Back in October 2020, during an Opposition Day debate, Labour put forward a motion calling on the Government to directly fund free school meals until Easter 2021, a move it said would prevent over a million children going hungry during the pandemic.

Boris Johnson’s Government whipped its MPs to oppose the motion, arguing it was not the place of schools to feed children during the holidays.

It was defeated by 322 votes to 261.

Within weeks of the vote, under significant public pressure, the Government performed a U-turn, and agreed to provide meals during school holidays during the pandemic.

Read more: Geoffrey Cox: 'It's up to voters to decide if my job outside Parliament is reasonable'

Read more: Does my MP have a second job? Find out here

In the UK, pupils are eligible for free meals if their parents or carers are receiving universal credit with a household income of less than £7,400 a year.

According to LBC's analysis, all but four of the 30 Conservative MPs identified earned more than that just from their consultancy jobs last year, on top of their £82,000 a year MP’s salary.

Some earned significantly more.

Former International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell has registered more than £180,000 for 34.5 days' work.

Former Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith earned £144,000 for 62-84 hours' work whilst former Transport Secretary Chris Grayling earned £100,000 to advise a port company.

Read more: Marcus Rashford awarded MBE for free school meals campaign

None of the 30 MPs actively rebelled against the party whip to vote for the motion.

The three MPs who didn’t vote directly against: Tim Loughton, Paul Maynard and Andrew Percy, have “no vote recorded” on the division lists, meaning they either abstained or simply weren’t present for the vote.

None of the MPs who declare such consultancy work have broken any rules - but it raises the question as to whether the rules themselves are fit for purpose, and whether any MPs should be earning vast salaries, often significantly greater than their MPs salary, for advising private companies.