The influence of the City over Westminster has come into sharp focus this week, after a report £17.5m was spend by big banks on MPs and political parties since 2020.
Almost 50 MPs received an average of £49,000 from the City – despite 26 of them registering not a single hour of work in return.
The study by Positive Money highlighted big business spent £15m on political parties and more than £2m on individual MPs, leading to renewed calls for a cap on donations and a ban on second jobs.
This comes after continued anger about MPs having jobs outside of their roles in Parliament, and former MP Owen Paterson deciding to quit after being accused of breaking parliamentary standards by engaging in paid advocacy on behalf of two firms.
In the report, ‘The Power of Big Finance,’ it outlines that MPs who have second jobs had an hourly wage more than 180 times the UK average of £15.15, at around £2,700-per hour. A fifth of peers also registered paid positions.
The financial sector, which Chancellor Rishi Sunak called the “engine of the economy” in his policy paper last year, also gains influence through a reported ‘revolving door’ between public office and the City, the report said.
It makes a series of recommendations to ensure influence of banking and financial institutions over British politics isn’t disproportionate, including banning second jobs – except for public service roles, capping speech payments and party donations from the City.
“Much of the sector represents a self-serving drain on the rest of the economy”, lead author of the report, Positive Money senior economist David Barmes, said.
“The banking lobby is currently pushing for regulators to prioritise the growth and competitiveness of the financial sector – a move that enabled the 2008 financial crash – and which will see the City of London continually prioritised over the rest of the country.”
“With banks writing their own rules, it’s no wonder the public are losing faith in the government’s ability to listen and meet their needs.”
According to the Trade Union Congress, city bonuses are at a record-high and rising six times faster than wages.
The Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats have been asked for comment.