INTERNATIONAL fact finding trips, book royalties and a free lifetime membership of an exclusive London club were among the financial interests listed by MPs in Cumbria last year.

The county's six parliamentary representatives declared any donations, gifts or hospitality received during the year to parliament as part of UK transparency laws.

The latest register - covering 2017 to 2019 - shows a number of the region's six MPs received private donations towards the cost of last year's election campaign as well as for ongoing campaign work in their area.

But other items noted on the list reveals how others topped up their parliamentary salaries of £74,962 during 2017 with additional earnings.

What did your MP declare?

Carlisle's Conservative MP John Stevenson received a private donation of £2,500 from a secretive Tory dining group called the Union and Cecil Club.

John Stevenson MP. DAVID HOLLINS The club also issued a donation towards his campaign for re-election during 2015.

Mr Stevenson declared earnings of £3,200 a month for his work as a partner at the city law firm Bendles Solicitors, in return for between 10 and 45 hours a month.

He also received a donation of £4,000 to host two skills events in Carlisle from United Biscuits, and a further £2,000 from Story Homes for another skills fair.

Mr Stevenson said: "I'm very grateful to United Biscuits and Story Homes for the donation towards the skills fairs.

"They come with a cost of advertising, hiring a venue and insurance and I couldn't host these events without their help.

"As for my earnings from Bendles, lots of MPs have a second job.

"It depends what sort of MP you want - someone with outside interests or robotic party representatives.

"Also, any MP who is a minister effectively carries out a second job."

Book royalties

Penrith and the Borders MP Rory Stewart, a minister with the Ministry of Justice, listed royalties from his books totaling £101,199.98 last year.
Rory Stewart MP. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Part of the sum came from sales of books written between 2012 and 2014.

Mr Stewart said: "I have not had a job while I have been an MP but I have continued occasionally to write books and articles, in my spare time, and to present documentaries on Cumbria.

"Part of the income is from ongoing sales of books written about Afghanistan and Iraq before I became an MP.

"Most of this income is from The Marches - a book describing a walk I did six years ago around my constituency, Cumbria and Hadrian’s Wall.

The Marches Rory Stewart "It was lucky enough to win the Hunter Davis Lakeland book prize and to be a Sunday Times Bestseller.

"The money is from the publishers and the amount reflects anticipated book sales.

"I believe that the research I did for this book increases my understanding of my constituency and promotes it to tourists and a wider audience."

Exclusive club membership

In Westmorland and Lonsdale, MP Tim Farron received private donations of £40,000 for his campaign during the 2017 general election.

Tim Farron MP. David Mirzoeff/PA Wire He was also given a lifetime membership of the National Liberal Club in London, a gift worth £735 a year plus a £367.50 entrance fee traditionally bestowed upon party leaders.

A spokesman for Mr Farron said: "As with all MPs, Tim has to declare certain donations to his local party organisation.

"The donations listed relate to both General Election costs and ongoing campaigning by the Liberal Democrats in Westmorland and Lonsdale.

"Every Liberal Democrat leader gets lifetime membership of the National Liberal Club."

Trudy Harrison, who won the Copeland seat for the Conservative party last year, received private donations worth £6,500.
Trudy Harrison,

In addition, she was given £1,738.50 to host a dinner for businesses in Copeland by Morgan Sindall Construction and Infrastructure Ltd.

A spokesman for Mrs Harrison said: "All monies received for election campaigns or political work, or costs of business dinners which have been covered by sponsors is recorded in the usual way."

They are available to view at:

International trips

Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock listed a visit to China in 2016 and another to Turkey in December 2017 among his declared interests.

The trips had a combined value including flights and hospitality of £6,983.08.

Mr Woodcock also listed private donations to his election campaign of £12,500 - of which £7,000 was from the GMB union.

Mr Woodcock said: "All the donations listed are in relation to the election campaign in May 2017 and have been registered with the Electoral Commission in the usual way.

“I visited China in 2016 to take part in the annual UK-China young leaders’ bilateral, designed to deepen cooperation and understanding with a nation vital for local and national businesses.

“In December 2017 I went to Turkey to learn about the impact of Islamist extremism and the growing refugee crisis there.

"It was a useful visit that underlined the value of the partnership we have with our UK ally in defeating Daesh and preventing terror being exported back to the UK.”

Sue Hayman, Labour MP for Workington, registered a donation of £10,000 from the GMB Union, of which she is a member, her office explained.

A spokesman for Mrs Hayman said: "The £10,000 from the GMB was a donation for Sue’s 2017 election campaign, as Sue is a member of the GMB.
MP Sue Hayman

"The donation went directly to the Labour Party to pay for Sue’s campaign, rather than to Sue herself or the local party.

"Then after Sue had been re-elected, she declared any donations over the threshold on the register of interests."

How much do MPs earn?

MPs earn an annual salary of £74,962.

What is the register of interests?

This is a public list which contains any donations or gifts received by individual MPs as well as their earnings outside of their parliamentary role.

How does it work?

There are strict rules governing how much an MP can receive in donations.

The Palace of Westminster. The amount and donor must be declared on the register.

MPs have to declare earnings outside of parliament to aid transparency.

Members of parliament may also regularly be invited to take part in international trips.

Often these are fact finding visits to help MPs understand ongoing circumstances in another part of the world, or they may be run to help strengthen economic and diplomatic links with other nations.