Labour put MPs’ second jobs to Commons vote

24th February, 2015 10:24 am

parliament_in_shadows.jpg

Labour will use their opposition day in the Hose of Commons tomorrow to put forward a bill curtailing what paid work MPs can do outside of their parliamentary duties. A source tells LabourList: “We need to act to improve the reputation of our Parliament in the eyes of the British people.”

This comes in the fall out of the latest “cash for access” allegations, which has seen former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP). Sir Malcolm Rifkind has been suspended by the Conservatives, has stood down as chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee, and will now retire as an MP in May.

The wording of the Labour’s proposal it it yet known, but will likely target directorships and consultancy work. A similar motion was put forward on the 17th July, 2013, but was voted down by both Conservative and Lib Dem MPs. That motion said:

“That this House believes that, as part of a wider regulatory framework for second jobs, from the start of the next Parliament no hon. Members should be permitted to hold paid directorships or consultancies.”

We will bring you further news on the vote as soon as we have it.

UPDATE: The motion will be exactly the same wording as the one above, leaving the leader’s office to be able to claim that they were ahead of the curve on this one, and did not need to wait for public outrage to put forward a solution to the problem. The debate will be opened by Shadow Leader of the House Angela Eagle, and Shadow Minister without Portfolio Jon Trickett.

A Labour spokesperson said:

“We need to act to improve the reputation of our political system in the eyes of the British people.
 
“MPs are dedicated to the service of their constituents and the overwhelming majority follow the rules. But the British people need to know that when they vote they are electing someone who will represent them directly, and not be swayed by what they may owe to the interests of others.
 
“Labour MPs and Prospective Parliamentary Candidates have already been put on notice that from the coming General Election the Party’s Standing Orders will be changed to prevent them holding such second jobs.
 
“David Cameron once promised change but now defends a discredited status quo and has refused to follow Ed Miliband’s lead. This is his chance to vote for an important measure which would help restore trust in politics.”

To report anything from the comment section, please e-mail [email protected]
  • bikerboy

    This is the wrong focus, rooted as it is in populism.

    A recall mechanism would focus the mind, as would clear and tight laws against lobbying with custodial sentences and financial penalties.

    Of course none of this will happen because MPs will not vote for it.

  • David Pickering

    As I said yesterday, Ed Miliband should simply ban Labour MPs having outside interests. Labour could then go into the short general election campaign with the moral high ground on this issue. The only issue is, would Labour MPs comply with the ban?

    • Steve Stubbs

      No.

      • David Pickering

        And there in lies the rub. Miliband doesn’t have the authority to make his own party comply with his wishes, but he would force a vote on the whole House.

        That being the case, Miliband’s position starts to look like bandwagon jumping for political gain.

        He should lead by example, but he can’t, because his party would tell him to shove it.

        • barry

          What exactly do you mean by “outside interests”? Would this prevent, for example, Diane Abbott and Alan Johnson appearing on This Week? Or Chris Bryant writing books? Or any Labour MP appearing on late night paper reviews? Or having MPs affiliated to the Coop Party (a very definite outside interest no matter how favourable we may look on such a connection)? All the above are “paid” interests. Banning all of them would cut the Labour Party out of many media opportunities to influence public opinion. Are you proposing that? Then what about the unpaid interests – many MPs are on the boards of housing associations, charities and other outside bodies. These are also very definitely outside interests? Could you define your proposal very much more clearly please?

          • MarkPolden

            How about simply banning all lobbying for outside interests

          • Doug Smith

            That would certainly deprive Progress upstarts of their incomes while waiting to be parachuted into safe Labour seats.

          • barry

            What do you mean? All MPs lobby for outside interests. It would be rather extraordinary if they didn’t.

          • Dave Postles

            We have a Lobbying Act – it allows corporate lobbying, but prevents approaches by charities and pressure groups. That’s the Tory world for you. Most other parties would rescind it, if elected (apart from the collaborators who voted for it).

          • barry

            Yes but Dave the 2014 Lobbying Act only applies to charities and pressure groups where very specific “party political issues” are involved in lobbying in the run up to General Elections. The rest of the time they are free to lobby as much as they like. Whatever we may feel about this Act it simply has no real bearing on the type of general lobbying that we are discussing here. Throwing this in is a red herring. What I’d like to know from David and Mark is a clear definition of what they mean.

          • David Pickering

            The purpose of an MP is to represent his constituents. Not charities, not unions, not mutuals, not anything. Ban the lot.

            As for cutting cut MPs off even more from the real world, they wouldn’t be cut off if they spent their time in their constituancies, speaking to, and experiencing the lives of their constituents.

        • Dave Postles

          ‘And there in lies the rub. Miliband doesn’t have the authority to make
          his own party comply with his wishes, but he would force a vote on the
          whole House.’
          Well, first off, it would be useful to have some data about which MPs standing in the election have ‘outside interests’ for which more than expenses are paid. Perhaps there are none or very few. I don’t know. Your assumption that EM cannot persuade them is just that – assumption.

          • Michael Murray

            Quite.

          • David Pickering

            I’m pretty sure almost all Labour MPs receive money from outside interests. They are all there, listed in the register of members interests. There is no assumption on my part.

          • Dave Postles

            ‘pretty sure almost all … There is no assumption on my part’

          • David Pickering

            And yet every Labour MP I’ve looked at is on the take from one union or another.

          • Dave Postles

            I’ve looked through the entire 382 pages. The numbers with ‘second jobs’ are limited. Miliband is about preventing ‘second jobs’, not donations towards the running of offices or for election expenses which are directed to the constituency.

          • David Pickering

            Yes, Miliband only wants to prevent the practices that don’t hurt his party, which demonstrates this is just another game he’s playing. He’s not really interested in fixing political corruption.

          • Dave Postles

            That’s your second point, not your first. I’m just responding to your first, inaccurate point. In any case, he will gain no advantage from allowing contributions towards constituency and office expenses, since that is available to all parties. If you look again at the register of members’ financial interests, you will notice that MPs of all parties receive such benefactions, from individuals, companies and unions. The only way to achieve what you want in terms of financial support, is an all-party commission. We had one of those, but Cameron wanted (if I remember correctly) a limit of £50k per donation. in the meantime, Miliband has reduced the interest of the unions.

          • Dave Postles

            Have you looked at the register of members’ financial interests?Perhaps you would like to extract the information?

          • David Pickering

            I have, and that’s why I said it.

            John Mann – £3,000 from Unite to run his CLP.
            Debbie Abrahams – £2,269 from Unison to run her CLP.
            Bob Ainsworth – £ 3,000from Unite to run his CLP.
            Diane Abbott – £3,000 from Unite to run her CLP.

            I’ve ignored all the overseas jollies that outside interests have funded, but of the first four I looked at, all had vested interests providing money to the. I could go on an on and on.

          • Dave Postles

            There’s 382 pages. Then you have to eliminate those that will be retiring and consider the new entrants. What the issue is about, in any case, is second jobs.

          • David Pickering

            It must have been blind luck that the first 4 MPs I looked at all received money from outside interests.

            Second jobs are certainly a form of outside interests, but by no means are they the only one.

          • Dave Postles

            Nah, this is what you wrote:
            ‘And there in lies the rub. Miliband doesn’t have the authority to make his own party comply with his wishes, but he would force a vote on the whole House.

            That being the case, Miliband’s position starts to look like bandwagon jumping for political gain.

            He should lead by example, but he can’t, because his party would tell him to shove it.’

            … but Miliband is simply preventing second jobs, not outside interests.

      • Harry Barnes

        If Ed becomes Prime Minister (which can only be narrowly) then he is in a strong position to pursue his agenda against greedy interests. For (against a popular platform) Labour rebels would then be in danger of bringing the whole house crashing down – covering their own jobs as MPs. Labour back-bench rebellions were relatively easy when Blair was PM as he had large majorities. Rebels were just the “usual suspects”, whom he could side-line. But when every vote counts in a close parliament, potential rebels have greater problems. Whether it is a matter of principle or self-interest, to what extent can scope be found to make it into the “wrong” lobby? Of course, rebels could decide to bring Ed down as a means of creating a crisis that would lead to fresh leadership elections. But that would be a big innovation for Labour.

    • Tommo

      Does that include membership of management boards of charities, trades unions, mutuals, etc. All of which may pay some form of remuneration or expenses

      • David Pickering

        The purpose of an MP is to represent his constituents. Not charities, not unions, not mutuals, not anything. Ban the lot.

    • Michael Murray

      Compliance with the ban could be easily obtained by amending the Labour Party rule book and making it possible for the NEC to rescind the membership of any MP who took a second job. I am delighted that the party is going to re-introduce our motion tomorrow but I think we should go further. I believe that it should be made a criminal offence for any MP to undertake any paid employment other than that of being an MP or receiving any payment to lobby on behalf of a third party. This boil can only be lanced by placing it within the domain of the criminal law. Loopholes such as deferred payments or gifts of property which only come into effect after the MP ceases to be a member of the House of Commons should also be made a criminal offence. MPs earn nearly seventy thousand pounds a year. By comparison with most people’s earnings this is a huge salary. Why should they need any other jobs unless they are greedy, grasping, self serving opportunists using their position for power and influence in order to fatten their bank accounts instead of serving their constituents?

      • David Pickering

        Michael, I absolutely agree with you.

        • Michael Murray

          I should be astonished but I am not. After all, I do believe that you are sincerely committed to getting rid of corruption. However, I can never accept that abolishing political parties and MPs would be the way to do it. The criminal law would be a strong deterrent, though. Especially if it was an offence for an MP to have a second job.

          • David Pickering

            As a first step, I agree that creating a specific criminal offence would be very helps. I just wouldn’t stop there 😉

    • Ian

      Bit difficult to ban outside interests when the whole Party is funded by Trades Unions.

      • David Pickering

        It will be corruption as usual.

  • paul barker

    As Wilson said “The Labour Party is a moral crusade or it is nothing.” After Jack Straw we can cross out the “moral crusade ” option.

    • Doug Smith

      He wasn’t the first. Think of Geof Hoon, to name but one.

      Hoon was the New Labour Defence Secretary who claimed Iraqi mothers would be grateful for having their children killed by cluster bombs.

      On retirement from Parliament warmonger Hoon landed a directorship with AugustaWestland. The company which was awarded “preferred bidder” status for a £1.7 billion defence contract when Hoon was Defence Secretary. No other firms were invited to bid.

  • Harry Barnes

    Another second salary which MPs can seek to attain is that of being a Cabinet Minister. That brings them in an extra £67,515 per year; just more than doubling their MP’s salary. It might be healthy for our democracy to separate the Government from Parliament. Government Minister’s could still be given the duty of having to appear at the despatch box in the Commons to answer questions and for other appropriate purposes. But they would then exercise no voting powers and have much less control over the role of the Whips. Parliament could itself decide who would become Government Ministers and who should be replaced. This would not end there being a pecking order in the Commons; but it would clip the power of those with the biggest beaks.

    This idea may be off the radar at the moment, but I suspect that the biggest question we will need to face after the election is”how do we revitalise our democracy?”. Nor does my suggestion rule out facing up to other democratic conundrums, such as “should we reform the voting system?”, “how do we properly establish a universal franchise?”, “do we need a written constitution?” and “what shape and structure should we give to a standard devolved system of Government across the UK?”

    If we don’t answer the big problems which our democrcay faces, then we will be on the road to UKIPology or even worse.

  • Steve Stubbs

    We already have a significant number of MPs who have no real experience of working outside the political bubble and have no useable understanding of the real world. If this became law I would want to see the minimum age for MPs raised to say 30, with a specific requirement that they must have worked full time outside politics for a minimum of 5 years.

    Otherwise we will see a career progression of student politics, researcher (or menial bag carrier as it should be known), possibly trades union minion,then safe seat sycophant.

    God forbid.

    • ColinAdkins

      I prefer the narrative rather than the proposals.
      The age restriction is ageist. If anything there are too many old people in the Commons supporting the boomer favouring Ponzi scheme which is the current welfare state.
      Trade unions are a good source of outside experience. True the number of officials who gained union position through doing the job e.g. miners has declined rapidly alongside the associated industries, there is much input which they can make e.g. industrial policy.

      • ebcd

        I am a boomer and I see around me a very nasty, selfish unity between the old hippies and radicals and the old rightists of all shades. As right-wing Americans say, ‘They have a feeling of entitlement.’

        Have you noticed how discreet the news media is when it comes to saying what people’s final salary pensions are? We should be taxing well-off pensioners much more. The mansion tax should be much higher than proposed. If 80 year old granny cannot afford it she should downsize.

        But I sense some boomers do not want granny to downsize and use the extra cash to go on cruises. They want that house when granny goes.

        • ColinAdkins

          Brilliant post. As the Sex Pistols said never trust a hippie. The generation who also pocketed the equity in social housing reducing supply for young people and in doing so forcing them into the private rented sector. The generation of Sids and beneficiaries of demutualisation with the now known consequences. The generation who benefitted from non–reduced pensions on early retirement reducing pension surpluses in occupational schemes. The generation who transferred the cost of reductions in public sector pensions onto the younger scheme members.
          I sometimes feel they have introduced a new measure of pensioner poverty – they can only go on four cruises not five per year. Is it any wonder Saga tours is rapidly expanding business?

          • Ian

            “If 80 year old granny cannot afford it she should downsize.” What about a single council tenant who can’t afford the bedroom tax – should they downsize too?

          • ColinAdkins

            Ask EBCD but I would say no.

          • Ian

            Sorry, it was him I meant to ask, but you DID agree with him.

            You are being somewhat inconsistent imo.

    • FMcGonigal

      Let the voters decide whether a candidates background is appropriate. there is no need to put such restrictions in place in advance.

    • Michael Murray

      “Useable understanding of the real world”. That would be the real world of profiteering; exploiting; making ‘killings’ in the City; ripping off vulnerable consumers; making loadsa money would it? I would say the reasons we have all these parliamentary problems is precisely because far too many MPs, particularly amongst the Tories, have their greedy snouts too deeply embedded in the trough of your ‘real world’. That’s why I would make it illegal for MPs to have a second job.

      • Steve Stubbs

        That may well be the ‘real world’ you inhabit, I couldn’t possibly comment on that as I have no experience of it, Neither would I dare to suggest have 99% of the population.

        Still, you clearly need a bogey man in which to believe and blame for all your ills, real or perceived.

        • Michael Murray

          Disingenuous, apologist crap!

          • Steve Stubbs

            That you for your considered reply which I note you have edited since first posting it. No, I disagree with you. How do you define a second job? Being a telly pundit, writing a book for cash, giving speeches? (Gordon earned best part of a million last year doing the latter). Being a dentist, or an A&E doctor? A paid apologist for Unite? When you have thought this through, please fell free to come back.

          • Michael Murray

            A job is work done for remuneration. Angela Eagle said in the House of Commons today that Godon’s earnings went to charity. No-one in the Labour Party has a second job with UNITE or any Union. It should be a criminal offence for any MP to do work for remuneration whilst serving as MP other than that as a Minister.

          • Steve Stubbs

            If you were talking about any and all payments for any or all activities other than their job as an MP, I might have some sympathy (but disagree) with that view. However, what was being pushed today was not that. It might be interesting to see what the shadow cabinet declared as income and from what sources in the past 12 months.

            The amount of Gordon’s earnings that have gone to charity is pitifully small. He seems somehow to have enormous expenses to offset And you are going to tell me next that Unite subsidises all those MPs out of the goodness of their hearts and not for what they get in return. Pull the other one.

          • Michael Murray

            I am delighted that you sympathise with my view which is that if you are an MP you should not receive any remuneration for work done except as a minister.

            The assertions in your second paragraph show that you are disingenuously conflating donations with remuneration. Money from the unions goes to the constituency parties. It is not trousered by the MP. That is completely different from MPs (Some Labour but the majority Tory) trousering large amounts of additional cash from second jobs they have been given for what they can do in return for the greedy, grasping businessmen who employ them.

            What was being pushed today, as you clumsily put it, was a ban on MPs directorships and consultancies. It is at least a start and Labour Party standing orders are being amended accordingly.

            I note that the greedy, grasping Tories and their Lib Dem stooges spoke vehemently against Labour’s motion and voted it down. Not very clever. The public will be reminded of the Tory and Liberal Democrat attachment to lucrative second jobs in our election literature.

          • Steve Stubbs

            So if a hedge fund was to not contribute directly the the tory party but was to subsidise the running of the offices of each and every tory MP that would be all right then? That’s exactly what the unions are doing with labour MPs.

            Personally I think the problem is that we have far too many MPs with not much to do with their time other than constituency work, and the large numbers mitigate against paying them a sensible salary. I would cut the commons by 2/3rds to about 200 MPs, have a fully elected senate in place of the lords with about 150 members, and remove the executive from Parliament, with cabinet members and ministers reporting to, but not being part of the commons.

            Our hands are not clean with greedy grasping parliamentarians. A numbe4r have been jailed for expenses swindles, and a number of others who were up to their elbows in the same somehow escaped prosecution.

            But you are wrong with just paid jobs. Appearance fees for TV appearances, money for speeches and the like must also be banned.

  • Malcolm McCandless

    Various online polls show that the vast majority of those who voted are totally against MPs having second jobs or any external paid work; be it directorships, consultancies, speeches, newspaper columns or even appearances on TV.

    So if this Labour motion falls short of this then voters will simply believe that MPs are doing too little too late.

  • Ian

    We need to be careful that this doesn’t backfire.

    What will happen with Trades Union / Co Op sponsored MPs, for instance? Is there a real difference between a Union paying your election expenses and a business interest group paying a consultancy fee?

    It will be suggested (correctly) that it amounts to the same – money for influence.

    • CoolJHS

      Unionisation of Labour is not the same as paid directorships or consultancies. One can belong to a Union by paying their membership and help with the activities of the union.

      Unions do not pay members but the other way around and as for funding individual MPs then we already have a system call political funding.

      If anyone thinks stopping individual MPs from making vast sums of money for themselves on the side should be equated to union funding then I’m afraid they are barking up the wrong tree.

      • Ian

        Politicians need to understand that how things are perceived is sometimes more important than how they are.

    • FMcGonigal

      Perhaps an upper limit on outside earnings would be appropriate.

  • Doug Smith

    “[Rifkind] will now retire as an MP in May.”

    Another warmonger bites the dust.

  • Ejacques1938

    MP’s Straw and Rifkind caught with their greedy fingers in the corporate
    pie then refer themselves to Parliamentary Commissioner. MP’s marking own
    homework. But they’re not alone. We are all in it together. (not)

  • Malcolm McCandless

    What about public speaking, book advances, legal work, TV presenting, etc? Some of the big earning MPs don’t hold paid directorships or consultancies.

    Also what happened to a cap on outside earnings for MPs? That was muted earlier in the day but now has been omitted from motion.

    Too little too late will the judgement of voters.

  • Douglas Guy

    Very clever. Rather than put it in the manifesto and have to deliver on it, they can gain the publicity from it in the run up to the general election with no prospect of it passing.

  • Ian

    Re: Update: Can they really claim to have been ahead of the curve?

    Sure, they saw the problem but the lack of action (banning Labour MPs from directorships or consultancies) in the intervening 18 months has meant that Jack Straw has ruined his own reputation and done serious damage to the Party’s.

    If this had just been Rifkind then Ed could have had a field day, following on from the HSBC scandal.

  • Ian

    Does anyone know whether Ed has announced that he has taken Jack Straw off the honours list?

Latest

  • Featured News Scotland Dugdale casts doubt on Corbyn’s ability to carry on

    Dugdale casts doubt on Corbyn’s ability to carry on

    Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has weighed in on Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership crisis, suggesting that he will not be able to do the job “effectively” following a no confidence vote this afternoon. Although Dugdale did not explicitly say that Corbyn should resign, she said that she would “not be able to do my job” if she was in his position and that he should “reflect” on the outcome of today’s Parliamentary Labour Party ballot. Dugdale is the latest major figure […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured Corbyn’s defeat at the hands of MPs puts him on course for a fresh leadership race

    Corbyn’s defeat at the hands of MPs puts him on course for a fresh leadership race

    So now we have a leadership race. Of course, it has not been announced yet, but it seems an inevitability after today’s heavy defeat for Jeremy Corbyn in a confidence vote among Labour MPs. Corbyn is down indeed, but not out. Despite being hit a tidal wave of resignations from the frontbench over the last three days he is hugely confident he can win another vote of Labour members and tonight issued a statement decrying the confidence motion as having “no constitutional […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News LIVEBLOG: Corbyn loses no confidence ballot 172-40

    LIVEBLOG: Corbyn loses no confidence ballot 172-40

    Corbyn is rapidly putting together a new front bench as resignations continue to pile in. While the Labour Party is in limbo, we will bring you all the Labour frontbench news as it comes through. 22.34: Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has cast doubt on Jeremy Corbyn’s ability to do his job. Read her comments here. 19.23: National Policy Forum (NPF) members are unhappy about the last minute cancelling of this weekend’s meeting. In the email cancelling the meeting, it was […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured Seats and Selections “Today’s vote is illegitimate” – Corbyn’s response to losing confidence vote

    “Today’s vote is illegitimate” – Corbyn’s response to losing confidence vote

    This is the statement issued by Jeremy Corbyn immediately after he lost today’s confidence motion among MPs. “In the aftermath of last week’s referendum, our country faces major challenges. Risks to the economy and living standards are growing. The public is divided. “The Government is in disarray. Ministers have made it clear they have no exit plan, but are determined to make working people pay with a new round of cuts and tax rises. “Labour has the responsibility to give a […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Round-up: All the resignations, sackings and appointments

    Round-up: All the resignations, sackings and appointments

    You can keep up to date with all the latest comings and goings on our liveblog here. Below is a quick round-up of everyone who has left their position or been appointed to a new one so far. We’ll keep the list updated as new names come through. Left the Shadow Cabinet Luciana Berger, Shadow Minister for Mental Health Maria Eagle, Shadow Culture, Media and Sport Lisa Nandy, Shadow Energy and Climate Change Owen Smith, Shadow Work and Pensions Angela […]

    Read more →
x

LabourList Daily Email

Everything Labour. Every weekday morning

Share with your friends










Submit