I am really disappointed that a recent bill proposed by labour that would have restricted MPs from holding second jobs lost a vote in the Commons recently. I rather expected a more volatile reaction to this, especially considering the absolutely eruptive reaction to the ‘expenses scandal’ a few years back (which was hugely exaggerated compared to what actually took place and how widespread the practices were).
The proposed bill would have limited MPs from holding paid directorships or consultancies, somewhat similar to changes Cameron promised to make to better regulate MPs jobs but never actually touched.
Last year, it was reported that 26 MPs declared more earnings from directorships, employment, shareholdings than from their parliamentary salary – over twenty declared over £100, 000 outside earnings in the register of members’ interest. This is even more ludicrous when it’s considered that an MPs salary is currently £67, 000. I don’t think it’s a controversial statement to say that that is a comfortable amount to live on.
Being an MP is definitely a difficult and time consuming job and the current salary is probably reasonable considering the work and time that (most) MPs devote to their constituents. It does seem offputting to even see MPs talk in the house about their salary and other sources of income, surely the main motivator to become an MP shouldn’t be money, but more from wanting to be involved in politics to actually make a difference and work to change things. This is absolutely something many of the conservative MPs seem to have totally forgotten.
It’s because the job is so time consuming that we need regulations, it would be impossible for MPs to work effectively as members of parliament and hold other positions. The hours that MPs do and should devote to their position as MPs is colossal as a general rule. It is often privileged conservative MPs which are able to avoid work, or maybe have less to do due to the nature of their constituencies and entrenched habits of those constituencies not to work as much. No surprise where the opposition to the bill came from.
If nothing else, passing the bill would have gone some considerable way to ease people’s minds considering how low trust in MPs and the political system is among people today, which is something all MPs should be ashamed not to have welcomed.