As Italy's richest man it came as no surprise to learn that the prime minister is also its richest politician.

The fact was confirmed in the Italian parliament's latest publication of the members' declared financial interests. Netting over 12.76 million in 2003, a 36,000 rise on the previous year, Silvio Berlusconi, whose overall wealth is ultimately far greater, earned almost three times more than the next parliamentarian on the list, Senator Giuseppe Consolo, a university lecturer and lawyer who declared income of some 3.24 million over the same period. There were three other million euro earners drawn from both upper and lower houses of parliament. The lowest paid MP was Marco Follini of the centre-right UDC party, whose 102,000 would be unlikely to keep Mr Berlusconi in suits for a year.