BLACKBURN MP Jack Straw has been appointed as a consultant for an international company on a salary of £30,000.

The former cabinet minister said he would be an adviser on foreign affairs to ED & F Man, which specialises in products including sugar, coffee and biofuels.

He insisted the new role would not detract from his duties as Blackburn MP, for which he is already paid £65,738 a year, and pledged not to lobby Parliament on behalf of the company.

One critic said no MPs should be allowed second jobs as they should focus on representing their constituents.

But Mr Straw said: “I have never accepted that argument.

"There are 168 hours in the week, and I will work on Blackburn for a least 60 and maybe sleep for 50.

“Providing there’s no conflict, I have long taken the view that I am not against people doing other things.

"I had two jobs as a minister. I think it’s really important that politicians are involved with the outside world.”

Under current rules, cabinet ministers are banned from outside appointments, and other MPs’ external roles have to be vetted by a special committee to check for conflict of interest.

Mr Straw, who left front-bench politics after 30 years following last year’s General Election, added: “It certainly won’t impact on my constituency responsibilities at all.

"Since I left the front bench I have more time to devote to the constituency.”

ED & F Man describes itself as one of the leading providers of sugar, molasses, animal feed, tropical oils, biofuels, coffee and financial services.

It was set up in 1793 and employs 4,000 people.

Coun David Foster, the leader of the Liberal Democrats on Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “My position is that if you’re an MP, that’s your full-time job and it’s what you should be putting your energy into.”

But Jake Berry, Conservative MP for Rossendale and Darwen, was more supportive.

He said: “My view is that one of the thing that keeps this Parliament diverse is if you give people the opportunity to work in the world of industry.”