“Moral principle is a looser bond than pecuniary interest”. Abraham Lincoln

As the Cost of Living crisis bites ever deeper into working families and local businesses, many of those who represent us are raking in eye watering amounts of money – in extra earnings, gifts and donations.

The basic wage for a Member of Parliament in the UK is £84,144 in addition to that they also claim expenses for running their parliamentary office, research staff and genuine trips on constituency business. These expenses are declared.

MPs who chair Select Committees, or who are members of the Panel of Chairs, are entitled to an additional salary of £16, 865.

If an MP retires they also get a very generous pension made up of the  MPs’ Pension Scheme and also a scheme for Ministers called the Ministerial Pension Scheme. The pension is based on the number of years an MP has served and their final salary level (unlike most pension schemes today).

If there is a General Election and the sitting MP is not re-elected then they will also get ‘severance’ pay. How much they receive depends on their age and the length of time they’ve been an MP. They will only receive this if they were an MP for a minimum of 2 years.

A winding-up payment is of a value equivalent to two months’ salary after the deduction of tax and National Insurance (the payment is not actually taxed). This is a single amount applicable to all eligible MPs, calculated using the MPs’ basic salary during the financial year in which the election occurs and standard tax and National Insurance deductions. It will be paid with the first payroll which takes place during the winding-up period


Click on this link for more information on these benefits: The Scheme of MPs Staffing and Business Costs 2022 – 23

The UK state pension for citizens is £141. 85 per week. This is so low that many people have to claim other benefits just to get by.

Many MPs are genuine hard working people representing their constituents and claiming expenses for running an office is perfectly right and proper.

But – when is £84,144 + expenses not enough for an MP who takes on another job (whilst an MP) and accepts gifts etc from other sources?

Sky News in collaboration with Tortoise Media have gathered together in one source a handy tool where you can look up what your MP – or any other – is accruing financially from sources other than their MP or Ministerial salary – The Westminster Accounts . The information is only for this parliamentary period since 2019, so bear that in mind too when you read some of those massive additions to their take home pay.

Alistair Carmichael MP

Alistair Carmichael has been the MP for Orkney and Shetland since 2001. He was also the Secretary of State for Scotland from 7 October 2013 to 8 May 2015 during the Tory/LibDem Coalition Government. In 2015 he hung onto the constituency at the General Election where the SNP Tsunami took 56 seats with the remaining 3 going each to LibDem, Labour and Tory. After the election he was taken to an electoral court by 4 of his constituents when he was subsequently found guilty on 2 charges out of 3 of political lying in order to affect his election and those of others. Since then Alistair Carmichael has been re-elected at the following 2 General Elections.

In the period covered by The Westminster Accounts (2019 onwards) Alistair Carmichael MP has added £21,670 to his Salary of £84,144 from donations, earnings and gifts.

This is broken down as follows:

  • £10,000 from Sudhir Choudhrie (Jan 2020)
  • £5,000 from Joe Zammit (Jan 2020)
  • £3,420 in gifts from The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Qatar (March 2020)
  • £2,500 from Robert Lawrence (Jan 2020)
  • £600 earnings from House Magazine ( Sept 21)
  • £100 earnings from House Magazine (May 21)

Sudhir Choudhrie is an Indian-born and London-based businessman with interests in healthcare, aviation, arms dealing and hospitality. He has been of the largest donators to the LibDems. He was arrested in the past by the Serious Fraud Office and his arms dealing quietly goes under the radar.

Maltese born Joe Zammit is the founder of the RADIX network of public policy think tanks. Previous jobs include a medical officer in the RAF and working for Glaxo in the UK and Germany. He has donated £100,000 in payments and gifts to the Liberal Democrats.

Click on this link to find out what your MP was receiving in addition to their salary and expenses: The Westminster Accounts

Click on this link to find out what your MP claimed in expenses: MPs staffing and business costs

It is also worth noting that not all MPs add to their salary in this way and some contribute those gifts/donations/extra earnings to charities but those are by far the few in number.

Many people in Orkney have more than one job. Those are not people earning over £84,144 but folk having to boost their earnings because of low pay or limited hours of work.

Household incomes via Orkney Draft Strategy 2023

The top 3 employment sectors in Orkney: agriculture and fishing (19.2%), human health and social work (15.4%) and wholesale and retail (11.5%). Together they account for around 6,000 jobs across the area.


Orkney, like all of Scotland, has been hard hit by the economic impacts of the Covid pandemic. Although there has been a slight bounce back due to the opening up again of sectors like tourism the long term issues of rising energy, food, material and transport costs will continue to affect the islands for years. The workers who kept us going through those dreadful times of lockdown are the ones now battling for improved wages and conditions. MPs, paid out of the public purse don’t have to struggle for increased pay because they award themselves those.

We are not all in this together.

Moral principle is a looser bond than pecuniary interest. Abraham Lincoln

Fiona Grahame

2 replies »

  1. “When money is the basis of life, joy will sit with a drooping head.”

    —Philip Oyler, The Generous Earth, 1950

    I see what’s happening around me – I try to do what I can – and that includes trying to connect with the joy to be found in life.

    Otherwise – I’d go under, and what would be the point in that?

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