Proposals to restrict MPs having second jobs outside Parliament were outlined by Ed Miliband today.
In his speech on Labour's relationship with the trade unions, Mr Miliband also called for “new limits” on MPs' outside earnings on top of their £66,000-a-year salary. Labour's election manifesto in 2015 may propose a ceiling up to which MPs could top-up their parliamentary salary with a second job. Labour could copy the 15 per cent top-up limit which applies to Congressmen in the United States. But work relating to their MP's job, such as writing newspaper articles or their memoirs, could be exempt from the cap.
The MPs' register of interests shows that in the 2012-13 financial year, the Conservative MPs Stephen Phillips earnt £732,708 as a QC and £7,600 as a Crown Court recorder; Sir Malcolm Rifkind £245,923 from directorships; Nicholas Soames £221,525 from directorships and advisory work and John Redwood £223,918, mainly from chairing a City firm, and Tim Yeo £157,471, mainly from directorships. There is no suggestion they have broken Parliamentary rules.
Mr Miliband also proposed new regulations to prevent conflicts of interests following recent revelations about MPs' links with lobbying firms. He said: “The British people must be reassured that their MPs are working for them. Being an MP should not be a sideline. It's a privilege and a duty, and the rules must reflect that.”
Although he said MPs needed to be connected to the outside world, he asked: “Can it be right that the rules allow MPs to earn hundreds of thousands of pounds from private legal practice while they're supposed to be an MP? Or from outside corporations without any real form of regulation?”
The Labour leader urged other parties to join a debate on the issue, saying it had not been addressed for a generation. But the Tories and Liberal Democrats appear unlikely to support a curb.