IT IS perhaps the clearest example of money for nothing. Jim Hood, the Scots Labour MP, has admitted pocketing £625 a month – in addition to his MP's salary of £64,766 – as a consultant for Scottish Coal.
This adds up to a 7,500 a year boost to the income of the veteran politician, an MP since 1987 and leader of the Nottinghamshire miners during the strikes of the 1980s.
His task is "to advise on parliamentary matters as they pertain to the coal industry" on behalf of Scottish Coal.
But when he was asked, under new Commons rules on disclosure, how many hours he spent on the consultancy in return for the latest monthly payment, Mr Hood replied: "Nil."
Mr Hood was one of 22 MPs who yesterday revealed greater detail of their earnings outside Westminster, following a change in the rules.
Politicians are now required to declare the amount of cash they earn in addition to being an MP, and the amount of time this work involves.
Former home secretary John Reid, the Labour MP for Airdrie and Shotts, visited Bahrain and Washington DC to speak at conferences. He declared the visit to Bahrain to be worth 5,000, which is likely to include the cost of travel and accommodation rather than simply earnings, while the Washington trip was costed at 2,500. He was in the United States to speak at an international terrorism and intelligence conference.
Mr Reid did not declare his earnings as chairman of Celtic FC, apparently because he is paid annually, thus not triggering the disclosure rules. But he did reveal that he had been gifted a watch from Sheik Rashid of Bahrain, the state's interior minister, following a meeting.
Shadow Commons leader Alan Duncan and shadow communities secretary Caroline Spelman both declared payments of 222 for appearing on Radio 4's Any Questions. Mr Duncan said it took one hour of his time – but Ms Spelman calculated it took her away from parliamentary duties for 5.5 hours.
Sir Peter Viggers, the Conservative MP whose claim for a duck house was one of the most infamous expenses claims, earned 125 by spending an hour completing two surveys.
Former Cabinet minister Clare Short, who resigned over the Iraq war and now sits as an independent Labour MP, was one of the furthest travelled. She went to Egypt with the World Bank and to Ethiopia with an aid agency. She also went to Londonderry to become an honorary graduate of Ulster University.
Michael Jack, the Tory MP for Fylde, revealed he was gifted a book, a tie and a jar of honey after giving an after-dinner speech.
The bulk of MPs' outside earnings remained under wraps, as the new rules require declarations only when external payments are received. A further lag is caused by delays in publishing the updated register.
This means it could take some months for major earners on the Tory front bench, such as Kenneth Clarke, William Hague and Andrew Mitchell, to make their earnings public. Party leader David Cameron has promised that all shadow cabinet members will give up their outside interests before the next general election.