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Last Updated: Saturday, 17 March 2007, 16:24 GMT
Hague: My income has been halved
William Hague
Mr Hague insists he is focusing on party duties
He may have vowed to fight inequality but one man is already much worse off under David Cameron - his shadow foreign secretary William Hague.

Mr Hague told the BBC his income has more than halved since Mr Cameron returned him to the front bench.

He was hitting back at claims his outside business interests were distracting him from party duties.

Mr Hague still earned 400,000 from after dinner speaking in the 15 months since Mr Cameron became Tory leader.

The latest register of members' interests also reveals Mr Hague has kept all four of his non-executive directorships and even added one, with developers Dunalastair Ireland Ltd, since Mr Cameron took over.

Mr Hague carved out a successful career on the after-dinner speaking circuit after quitting as Conservative leader in 2001.

Tough task

He has also become a best-selling author, with a biography of William Pitt the Younger under his belt and another, on William Wilberforce, in the pipeline.

He gave up his 190,000 a year News of the World column and pledged to cut back on his other outside interests when he was brought back into frontline politics.

In addition to his duties as shadow foreign secretary and MP for Richmond, in North Yorkshire, he was made chairman of the Conservatives' Northern Board, with the job of breathing new life into the party's campaigning strength in the north of England - something he has admitted is a tough task.

Unnamed Tory MPs quoted in the Yorkshire Post expressed concern Mr Hague's outside interests had interfered with his party duties.

Speaking engagements

One prospective parliamentary candidate told the newspaper: "William should be out there raising money for marginal seats, not himself."

The newspaper also claimed Mr Hague had taken time out from the 2005 general election campaign to fulfil speaking engagements.

But Mr Hague insisted he had cut back on his outside interests since returning to the front bench.

He said he now devoted 95% of his time to politics. He also said he had finished writing his book on Wilberforce "and there will not be another book".

"I have so far cut down by two thirds on all my activities. My income is also down by more than a half," Mr Hague told the BBC News website.

"95% of my time goes into politics. I have drastically cut down on all of those other things."

Directorships

He said he only did "about 15 after-dinner speeches a year" - down from a peak of about one per week when he was on the backbenches.

He said his directorships, which include seats on the board of a Rotherham-based engineering firm and a Dublin-based utilities firm and posts advising a private equity firm and the JCB group, did not take up much of his time.

He said his outside activities meant he was not reliant on politics for an income, but he had returned to the frontbench to serve the party and only Mr Cameron did more "party occasions" and fundraising around the country than he did.

Mr Hague earlier rallied activists with a speech at the Conservative spring conference in Nottingham, claming the party had emerged from a "decade and a half in the doldrums".

"In the last fifteen months no one can doubt any longer that the Conservative party has begun its journey back to power," he said to cheers from party members.




SEE ALSO
Lifestyles of the nation's leaders
25 Feb 04 |  UK Politics
Hague's six-figure earnings shown
22 Feb 05 |  UK Politics

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