Birmingham MPs have criticised proposals to ban them from having second jobs.
Labour is considering new rules which would prevent MPs from topping up their £61,000-a-year salary with outside interests, in an attempt to restore trust in politicians.
The measure would hit Birmingham MPs such as Conservative Andrew Mitchell (Con Sutton Coldfield), who holds seven paid directorships and also receives more then £35,000 as an adviser to consultants Accenture.
Liberal Democrat John Hemming (Yardley) continues to operate businesses in the computer software and music industries, which he set up before becoming an MP.
And Labour MP Khalid Mahmood (Perry Barr) is a paid director of property and Internet company Pettifer Group Limited.
Details are listed in the Register of Members Interests, published by the House of Commons on a regular basis.
Plans to ban MPs from having outside interests have been drawn up by Helen Goodman, the Deputy Leader of the Commons. Options she has proposed include a total ban; setting a limit to how much MPs can earn, likely to be around £9,000; or a partial ban, in which they would be allowed to do certain jobs, such as writing for newspapers, but not others.
But MPs insisted that what mattered is how effectively they represented constituents, not whether they had outside interests.
Mr Mitchell said: “The most important thing is that Members of Parliament should deliver a first class service for their constituents, and there are many MPs on all sides of the House who do just that.”
Mr Hemming said: “I work full time as an MP but I retain chairmanship of my company board, which requires that I do three hours work for the company I founded in 1983.
“It is beneficial for MPs to have experience outside Parliament.
“I work 60 hours a week as an MP. It is unreasonable to expect an MP to abandon all outside interests, as long as representing your constituents comes first.”
If the Government does press ahead with the scheme, it is likely to meet resistance from a number of its own backbenchers.
Former Home Secretary David Blunkett reported receiving £450,000 over the past 12 months, including payment for writing a newspaper column.
Alan Milburn, the former Health Secretary, was paid up to £115,000 for work which included advising PepsiCo UK.
But the proposals, which are the ultimate responsibility of Ms Goodman’s boss, Leader of the Commons Harriet Harman, are likely to be popular with the Labour left.
Ms Harman is seen as a possible contender for the Labour leadership and floating the idea of a ban on directorships, which would hit the Tories the hardest, could be an attempt to gain support from left-wing MPs. A study of the Register shows that 66 per cent of Tory MPs, 37 per cent of Liberal Democrats but only 19 per cent of Labour MPs have other jobs.
But her critics privately warned that banning MPs from holding directorships would exclude people from the business world and ensure Parliament was filled with members of the “political class” – who had forged a career working for political parties and think tanks, with little experience of life outside.
One MP said that a backbencher’s salary on its own was a significant pay cut to many people who had been successful in other fields, who would turn their backs on politics if they were banned from earning money elsewhere.
Another said: “We all know there are people who take on a lot of work, and do it all very successfully, and others who take on much less and do much less.
“If an MP is also a director, that doesn’t mean for a second that they are devoting less time to their constituents than an MP who has no outside interests.”