Leading article: A pass is for elected MPs, not for life

Share
Related Topics

In some respects, the rules are clear. An MP who earns money outside Parliament which relates in any way to his status as an elected member of the legislature has to make a declaration. In writing. In a register that is regularly updated. There are penalties for those who do not comply. The boastful comments of Tim Collins, managing director of Bell Pottinger, as recently revealed in The Independent, might suggest that professional lobbyists, in contrast, live in a world where no rules apply. But that is not so.

The rules may be weak, but they are written into the constitutions of the professional bodies that represent lobbyists. One of these lays down that no lobbyist should gain an unfair commercial advantage over others by holding a lobby pass that allows him to ply his trade by mingling with politicians in Parliament's corridors and cafés. If a lobbyist does hold a parliamentary pass, he is not supposed to put it to professional use.

As The Independent discloses today, however, there is a gaping anomaly. When MPs leave Parliament, they are entitled for the rest of their lives to hold passes giving them free access to the building. This used to be a simple kindness for people retiring after a lifetime of public service, but it has become increasingly common for MPs who leave politics with many years of working life ahead of them to exploit opportunities to earn bigger salaries outside.

Many put their political experience to profitable use by accepting posts with lobbying firms or other organisations that need access to politicians. In this line of business, a parliamentary pass is a highly valuable, marketable asset.

There is no reason why former MPs should not prosper in their life after politics, but it seems extraordinary that they are permitted to hold on to a privilege that goes with their former status in perpetuity. The solution is simple. For as long as they keep their passes, ex-MPs should have to sign a new register of interests, similar to the one that applies to MPs. But there should be a maximum period – two years, perhaps, or the life of the next Parliament – for which the pass would be valid. Thereafter, an ex-MP would be treated like an ordinary member of the voting public.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

Mechanical Estimator: Nuclear Energy - Sellafield

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...

Dynamics NAV Techno-Functional Consultant

£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...

Day In a Page

Read Next
'Our media are suffering a new experience: not fear of being called anti-Semitic'  

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk
David Cameron (pictured) can't steal back my party's vote that easily, says Nigel Farage  

Cameron’s benefits pledge is designed to lure back Ukip voters. He’ll have to try harder

Nigel Farage
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices