Saturday, 27 June 2009

Reminder : MPs aren't full time!

What with all this expenses stuff, the other interesting thing which hasn't quite blown up yet but might, is the subject of MPs other jobs. On July the 1st MPs have to 'detail the time they spend on outside jobs' according to the Times(boo!). (*1)

A couple of examples of Conservatives who work for other employers apart from their constituents on Parliamentary time are John Redwood and Oliver Letwin.

I am in two minds about this, i.e. whether this is a good thing or not. I have to say I am inclined towards the 'not' though maybe an exception could be made when Parliament is not sitting.

Letwin spends eight hours a week on his extra job, netting him £60k/yr - and he's supposed to be cooking up the Cons' election manifesto! Most people don't have enough time to do their jobs in an ordinary working week, and OL's main job is extremely important.

Everyone else has to work for their employer exclusively and gets 20 to 25 days holiday a year. MP dont have to work for their constituents all year and get a notional 'holiday' rather longer than that.

I can appreciate there is a need to withdraw from politics for a good period each year to recoup. However, demands from an external job during parliamentary time is unacceptable as far as I am concerned. The public have a right to expect a full time MP when Parliament is sitting.

I expect there is some sense in the notion of MPs retaining paid links with some organisations though i am not sure the 'keeping in touch with reality' excuse is very valid. Do MPs not have enough contact with non Political types aready? Is that contact not somehow not 'real' enough?

The difficult one for me is while supply and demand has an important role in setting salary level so does the 'if you pay peanuts you get monkeys' notion. Both Oliver Letwin and John Redwood could earn a massive amount more in the private sector and external pay must help keep them in politics where we need them.

There's only so far you can take altruism.

*1 -

1 comment:

  1. Other work might help to keep them in touch with the real world outside the Westminster bubble, and alternative employability might help to keep them independent of the party line on matters of national security and conscience. In an age when the party system is too strong, I think that having the opportunity to walk into well-paid alternative employment is a good thing, as in, 'Screw you, Mister Cameron. I'm not supporting your w*nky bill this time as good soldiers'll die from these budget cuts.'