Revealed: Gulf payments to British MPs

Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and David Miliband, brother of the current leader of the UK opposition party, together accounted for more than half the expenses, fees and gifts paid by Gulf companies and governments to British Members of Parliament, according to the latest parliamentary report by the House of Commons.

The UK House of Commons’ Register of Members' Interests showed Gordon Brown, who served as British prime minister from June 2007 to May 2010, was paid $263,678 for four speeches in the Gulf, two in Qatar and one each in the UAE and Kuwait.

Ranked second on the list of highest paid sitting MPs was David Miliband, a former Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and brother of the current leader of the UK Labour Party, who was paid $229,518 to act as a foreign affairs advisor to the UAE government and for a trip to a conference in Doha.

In total, Gulf companies and governments shelled out £548,673 (US$$881,744) to British MPs between December 2011 and December 2012, the latest parliamentary report revealed.

The UAE was the largest donor or debtor, accounting for 70 percent of payments. Saudi Arabia paid for a dozen MPs to travel out for overseas diplomatic and trade trips, while Qatar accounted for 10 international trips by Westminster parliamentarians. Kuwait ranked further down with two payments, while Bahrain only accounted for a single donation.

In general, these payments were for expenses or used for administration costs and not paid directly to MPs. For example, Brown states that he did not personally receive any money from the speeches he undertook and the payments were “held by the Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown for the employment of staff to support [his] ongoing involvement in public life.”

MPs must also reveal any gifts or donations they receive, for example, former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw reported he and five others were given an upgrade to Business Class by Emirates Airways for a flight from Dubai to Heathrow last year, which was worth nearly US$20,000.

See the list of the 30 largest payments made to UK MPs by Gulf companies and governments in the last year.

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