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Sunday, March 26, 2023

Time to derail the gravy train

The extent to which MPs are raking in cash from secondary employment, instead of doing the full time job they have been elected to, is revealed in today's Observer, who report that former chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, and former health secretary, Matt Hancock, agreed to work for £10,000 a day to further the interests of a fake South Korean firm after apparently being duped by the campaign group Led by Donkeys.

The paper says that Kwarteng attended a preliminary meeting at his parliamentary office and agreed in principle to be paid the daily rate after saying he did not require a “king’s ransom”. When Hancock was asked his daily rate, he responded: “It’s 10,000 sterling.”

They add that Sir Graham Brady, the chair of the 1922 Committee, also attended an online meeting for the fake foreign firm from his parliamentary office. When asked about the limits on arranging meetings, he made clear he could not advocate on behalf of the interest but said he may be able to advise the firm on who to approach in government. He said a rate of about £6,000 a day “feels about right” and any payments would be on a public register:

A fourth MP, former minister Stephen Hammond, who had been approached, said this weekend he considered he had been the victim of a “scam”. He said he thought he was engaged in a preliminary discussion with a company but “it turns out this company was fake, with a fake website”. Hancock’s spokesperson said he had acted “entirely properly” and criticised what he described as the “illegal publication of a private conversation”.

The senior politicians have complied with all relevant rules and referred to their obligation to their constituents during preliminary meetings. The Led by Donkeys project, conducted with investigative reporter Antony Barnett, comes at a time when people face a cost of living crisis. The campaign group released a report on its investigation on Twitter on Saturday, with recorded undercover footage.

While they are not prohibited from such meetings and no arrangements were finalised, there is currently intense scrutiny of politicians’ outside earnings. Labour has said it will ban most second jobs for MPs if it wins power.

The point that all these MPs have appear to have missed in responding to this article is that they already have a well-remunerated job and, although taking on outside work may be within the rules, it is a practice that could cause voters to doubt their commitment to the privilege of serving in the House of Commons, especially at a time when so many of their constituents are struggling to make ends meet. The sooner this practise is outlawed the better.
If an MP wishes to leave Parliament at the next election,declare that fact.Then in the intervening period he/she can be allowed to search for a job to start when the election is called.Unlike many people who do have to have 2nd jobs to make ends meet MPs are well paid
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