Miliband calls for MPs to be banned from paid consultancy positions, following Straw allegations

23rd February, 2015 10:06 am

In the wake of allegations against Jack Straw and Malcolm Rifkind, Ed Miliband has called for MPs to be banned from taking up paid directorship and consultancy positions.

Ed Miliband

This morning, it has emerged that former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has been suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) because of a ‘cash for access’ scandal, in which former Conservative Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind is also implicated.

Following this, Miliband has written a letter to David Cameron asking the PM to prohibit MPs from taking up such second jobs.

The Labour leader has also announced that he would ban Labour MPs from paid consultancy roles and he has reiterated his pledge to prohibit MPs from earning no more than 15% of their salaries through private roles.

Update: Here’s Ed Miliband’s letter to David Cameron in full:

Dear Prime Minister, 
 
I write this letter to you not just as leader of the Labour Party but as someone who believes that we all need to act to improve the reputation of our Parliament in the eyes of the British people.
 
I believe 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.
 
Two years ago I said Labour MPs would not be able to hold paid directorships or consultancies after the next election. 
 
My party is also consulting on legislation to make this a statutory ban, as well as imposing a strict cap on all outside earnings by MPs. 
 
Today I can confirm that these measures will be included in my party’s General Election manifesto. 
 
The low levels of trust in politics demands clarity and I urge you to follow my lead in banning paid directorships and consultancies.  
 
There have been too many scandals about conflicts of interest in recent years. 
 
It is time to draw a line under this and ensure these current allegations are the last. 
 
I am sure you will agree this is a problem which affects all parties. 
 
I believe these are circumstances which demand action and leadership.
 
I look forward to receiving your response.
 
Yours, 
 
Ed Miliband 

 

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  • Canarydan

    Miliband should go further with this. Introduce restrictive covenants to certain ministerial positions that prevent, for example, anyone who has severed as Defence Minister from taking up directorships at security companies and what have you. Or alternatively, if a health minister awards a contract to a company whilst in government he is unable to work for that company for a set period following his exit from Parliament.

    We should not lose sight of the fact that MPs are paid a very, very good salary. Yes, there is an argument that many of them have the skills and ability to earn more elsewhere (although skills and ability mean very little in the real world of work these days) but the fact is that every time a constituency has a PPC vacancy, there is no shortage of applicants. If you can’t cope with stricter rules then don’t pursue a career as an MP. We won’t run short of applicants. And if anyone says that may dilute the talent pool we have, well, under the current guidelines we’ve found ourselves with a woeful group of MPs on both sides of the house, so I will laugh at that response.

  • gavin

    This year, unlike most people, MP’s received a substantial rise in their pay—yet we read this morning that they are still “on the game” for as much outside money and perks as they can get.
    This is squalid, and demeans the role in the National Legislature they are supposed to fill. They should receive no money from any other source. No exceptions. If they are not content with this, let them find another role in life.
    I would actually go further, and base their pay on a multiple of their constituents average earnings( X 2.5 ). This might encourage them to end the North/South differential in wages, and get them interested in generating decent jobs where they are elected.——-Wouldn’t THAT be nice !

    • Duncan Hall

      Although it would probably mean that the MPs with the least work to do get paid the most…

  • treborc1

    Not to bad if your a minister writing for the times once a week or what ever, £145,000 is your wage 15% of that is nice it pays the gas and electricity of your four or five houses..

    I do suspect that the people will just shrug and state that’s politicians for you, best to let them get on with it, we will sit at home, which may well be what politicians are hoping for.

  • Saddo

    Luckily for Labour, very few of their MP’s are in demand for consultancies etc as they haven’t got many skill sets or knowledge worth sharing.

    And of course its OK for Miliband himself with Mrs M earning over £200k to buy him his £1000 suits – not sure where Chuck’s money comes for his even more expensive ones.

    So if this comes to play, we will end up with people who actually think £63k is a lot of money or those with private income as MP’s, or those with high earning significant others. Not exactly a big talent pool.

    If Miliband wants to do it without legislation, he can just impose it on Labour MP’s. Leave the other parties alone. If the public like it, Labour should get more votes

    • Canarydan

      “we will end up with people who actually think £63k is a lot of money”

      Oh god, not those stupid people.

      • treborc1

        Well it would not pay the professional escort would it. I need to have better benefits, I’ll claim to be somebody else,

    • robertcp

      Umm, £63,000 is a lot of money to most people! I do, however, agree with you and MPs are supposed to be running the country after all.

  • RWP

    For once he’s absolutely right – will he bring in legislation as PM to ban this outright?

    • bikerboy

      Of course not. He thinks we’re stupid enough to believe he would, but it will be the long grass again.

    • Ian

      why does he need to wait until then? Can’t he ban Labour MPs from doing it now? The evil Tories would be shamed into following and once again Ed would be showing that he doesn’t just talk a good fight.

      • CoolJHS

        Read paragraph 4 again, your answer in there. You should really try to read something before you comment on it.

        • Ian

          My question was why does Ed need to wait. There is no answer in para 4. Read my post before commenting, please.

          • treborc1

            My last MP was a practising Lawyer in fact a Barrister, he was asked at a meeting once because of a scandal way back in the 1970’s whether it was right for him to have two jobs he replied simple I have two offices and two jobs and if I fail to do them you will sack me.

            We did not sack him because he used his job to help us he helped me a hell of a lot after my accident.

            This is not about a second job this is a conflict of interest using your ability to change laws and to get contact with the leaders to make a difference for a fee, that has to be illegal

          • Ian

            And that’s exactly the sort of second job MPs could legitimately have. Trouble is there’s too many of them just wanting to get their snouts in the trough. Of course it’s a clear conflict of interest!

      • Duncan Hall

        He has already said that Labour MPs won’t be able to hold paid directorships, etc. in the new parliament, regardless of new legislation. That seems reasonable – people can then make a decision as to whether they wish to stand for election or not based on the a full understanding of rules/restrictions.

  • Ian

    “I believe these are circumstances which demand action and leadership.”

    So why doesn’t Ed act? Banning new Labour MPs from having outside directorships after the election is all well and good but Ed should show some action and leadership and ban them today. Why give Camoron the credit?

    • CoolJHS

      Read paragraph 4 again, your answer in there. You should really try to read something before you comment on it.

      • Doug Smith

        “consulting on” is quite different to proposing a ban on.

      • Ian

        I agree with Ed – we need action and leadership, not consulting on. There is nothing to prevent Ed showing leadership and acting today as regards the PLP.

    • Doug Smith

      Well, there is the not too small problem of the New Labour careerists who pack Labour’s benches.

      If they were banned from accepting ‘business friendly’, money-making opportunities they’d probably resign from the PLP en masse and defect to the LibDems or Tories.

      This would present an unwelcome crisis in the run-up to the general election.

      • Ian

        I’m sure we could manage without them.

  • David Pickering

    Miliband could deal with this today, by banning Labour MPs from holding outside interests. The Tories would then be screwed on this issue, because their side would never agree to it.

    Does Miliband have the authority to push this through on his side?

  • treborc1

    MP’s who earned the money in 2014

    Gordon Brown £963,000

    Blunkett £179,000

    The Tories it is said to have 91 MP’s with out side interests and labour has 25 but these are the two big boys in labour,.

  • Grouchy Oldgit

    They should, if not already, be banned from doing anything with potential conflict of interest. Otherwise they should be permitted other jobs only if they declare their intention to do so on the ballot paper, and if voters are happy to elect a part-time MP they should get 50% of MP’s pay.

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