Second jobs are just the tip of the iceberg. We need to ask ourselves what we really want from our MPs

The debate over whether we should restrict MPs to their day jobs is interesting, because it isn’t really about what they do outside of politics, writes Marie Le Conte

Tuesday 16 November 2021 14:18
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<p>Owen Paterson was found to have breached lobbying rules</p>

Owen Paterson was found to have breached lobbying rules

Should MPs be allowed to have second jobs? The public is divided on the issue. According to a survey conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies, 42 per cent of voters believe that additional earnings for politicians are acceptable as long as they are publicly disclosed. In addition, a whopping 67 per cent believe that those earnings should be capped.

There is no equivalent data for the people working in or around politics but, as the past two weeks in parliament have shown, it is clear that they are split as well. On the one hand, there is the argument that MPs should solely be focused on their work in the constituency and in Westminster, and that even jobs that are not conflicts of interest remain a distraction.

On the other, there is the belief that parliament benefits from attracting the best and brightest, and that restricting MPs to their day jobs would mean losing some sharp and much-needed minds. It is an interesting debate, because it isn’t really about second jobs. Instead, a question that would be more useful to ask is: what do we want from our MPs?

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