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Thursday, September 29, 2022

Missing the point on MP's second jobs

The Mirror reports that plans to crack down on MPs’ second jobs have finally been backed by the government almost a year after the Owen Paterson scandal, but loopholes are set to be left open in a move branded “very odd” by a standards watchdog.

The paper says that Ministers accepted a recommendation that MPs should be banned from giving paid parliamentary advice, consultancy or strategy, but they refused to back the Standards Committee’s plea for a lobbying ban to be written into MPs’ contracts:

The committee had sought views on whether restrictions should be placed on MPs' outside earnings in a review of the MPs' Code of Conduct last year.

It followed the outcry over the disclosures that Tory Owen Paterson broke the ban on paid lobbying by MPs.

Meanwhile Conservative backbencher Sir Geoffrey Cox earned more than £900,000 last year from his work as a lawyer.

In a response, published on Tuesday, the Government gave its backing to a proposed ban on MPs working as parliamentary advisers or consultants.

"The Government firmly believes that an MP's primary job is and must be to serve their constituents and represent their interests in Parliament," the response says.

"Members have a duty to their constituents and any outside work should be within reasonable limits, in order for an MP's parliamentary duties to take priority."

The Government was more lukewarm on a proposal that would see MPs who take on outside work required to have a written contract which explicitly states that their duties cannot include lobbying ministers or officials or providing advice on how to influence Parliament.

Citing "reservations" about "whether it is appropriate to regulate the terms of employment contracts between individual MPs and outside employer", the Government said it did not agree with such a call.

The overall committee proposals should come before the Commons "as soon as possible", the Government concluded.

The problem with this approach of course is that it still allows room for abuse of the system, and therefore it undermines confidence in the integrity of MPs. Surely, the government must rethink this.

They will not rethink it cos Conservatives like being influenced by vested interests for future employment opportunities and 'hand outs'
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