Tuesday, June 30, 2009

So should MPs be allowed to have outside jobs?

The short answer is yes.

The longer answer is that it is up to the voters.

Just as the answer to the misuse of MPs' expenses it to require them to publish their claims, so the answer to concerns over their having jobs away from Westminster is to require them to declare these earnings and how much time they spend working for other employers.

I do have doubts over the traditional assumption that it is possible to do a good job as an MP while pursuing a career at the bar. Equally, I see no problem in John Hemming devoting four hours a month to the companies he founded before he was an MP.

But then I believe that there are too many lawyers in parliament and not enough businessmen.

Ultimately, though, it is up to the voters to decide. They may decide that it is better to have a good MP without outside interests than a mediocre one who is wholly dedicated to the task.

I am reminded of the Southampton fan who called a phone in at the time that Bruce Grobbelaar was on trial over match-fixing accusations.

He said: "I would rather have Grobbelaar trying to lose than Dave Beasant trying to win."


Anonymous said...

"But then I believe that there are too many lawyers in parliament and not enough businessmen"

And far too few engineers

dreamingspire said...

William Waldegrave was known in Bristol West as a very good constituency MP despite his other interests. I'm told that he ran a very competent constituency office. However, after the death of his father he decided to retire as an MP in order, according to reports at the time, to concentrate on helping to run the family business. Valerie Davey then won it for Labour, possible surprising herself. She lost it recently to Stephen Williams (LD) and at the announcement of the result actually looked pleased - it had been reported that she had said that she would retire at 60. However, her agent always denied that.