5 February 2009
Disgraced former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions David Blunkett, who was twice forced to resign from the cabinet, failed to declare a business trip to south Africa paid for by Pathways to work provider A4E, according to the Observer newspaper.
Blunkett disclosed earnings of around £30,000 from A4E as director’s remuneration in his 2008 declaration of interests. However, he failed to declare a business trip to South Africa last September on behalf of the company. After being approached by the Observer and taking advice from the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Blunkett declared the trip last week.
Blunkett says that he sees nothing wrong with working for a private sector company that already receives millions of pounds from his former department and is currently bidding for millions more. His defence is that if ex-ministers are prevented from pursuing ‘private interest’ in this way whilst they are still MPs then fewer will want to be ministers in the first place.
In addition, Blunkett pointed out that he has a six year old child and that he intends “to continue earning until he is at least 16, preferably 21” and to do so “honestly, legally and within the rules.”
Presumably Mr Blunkett does not consider the paltry £1,200 a week (excluding expenses) that MPs have to exist on as “earning” in any real sense of the word. After all, it’s barely 20 times the basic rate of income support that the average claimant has to live on.