Sun, 21 July 2024

Newsletter sign-up

Subscribe now
The House Live All
By Ben Guerin
Press releases

MPs Demand More Detail On Boris Johnson's "Vague" Second Jobs Intervention

MPs have called for clarity over the proposals to partially ban second jobs

3 min read

The Prime Minister has been urged to clarify new proposals on second jobs which he has claimed will stop MPs from "exploiting their positions".

MPs have accused the government of having failed to think through the plans which were announced in the wake of a lobbying scandal that has engulfed the Conservative Party.

The Prime Minister wrote to Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle on Tuesday proposing changes to the MPs code of conduct which would see them banned them from holding political consultancy jobs, and saying those who prioritised their outside interests should be "investigated and appropriately punished".

Johnson announced the plans just moments before Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer announced his own proposals which would see all second jobs banned unless the roles were in "public service" or were for professions requiring registration.

But MPs have said the proposals lack clarity, highlighting that the measures were taken from a 2018 report which concluded only a small number of MPs holding second jobs would be impacted.

One senior Tory MP criticised the vagueness of the PM’s proposals. "Who defines 'reasonable limits'? The House or the Commissioner?" they said. 

Another told PoliticsHome further detail was required around the plans, adding that reasonable time limits "could mean as much or as little as one wants".

The 2018 report from the Committee on Standards in Public Life concluded that "MPs should not undertake outside employment as a Parliamentary strategist, adviser or consultant" but said the measure would only cover a "handful" of MPs.

On the proposals around "reasonable time limits" they said that a "majority of MPs do not have any outside interests, and a number of MPs hold outside interests many would consider to be within reasonable limits."

"There are a small number of cases, however, where the public and media reaction to outside interests of MPs suggest that reasonable limits on MPs' outside interests have been breached.

"The negative perception, that MPs are in office for their personal gain, is shaped by a small but very public minority of cases."

But Johnson's proposals have been welcomed by some Conservative MPs who have been inundated with complaints from constituents over the lobbying row.

One MP elected in 2019 said the proposals had "gone some way to deal with the issue" but that they  "ideally should go further". Tory MP Bob Seely tweeted: "Good. MPs should be banned from paid consultancy. It is a conflict of interest."

But another Conservative MP told PoliticsHome they believed the government's desire to upstage Starmer meant it hadn't fully thought through the details of the proposals.

Starmer confirmed Labour would continue to push for a harsher change in a planned Commons vote tomorrow, saying the move would be "just the start". 

The Labour leader added that he wanted MPs to adopt a five-point plan which would see all commerical consultancy roles and paid directorships banned.

"The Prime Minister's decisions led to this scandal," Starmer added. "He has repeatedly failed to show leadership on this issue.

"He has a choice – support Labour's plans to fix our politics or whip his MPs to vote against a ban on MPs being paid consultants."


Additional reporting by Adam Payne and Noa Hoffman

PoliticsHome Newsletters

PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe

Read the most recent article written by John Johnston - MP Warns That Online Hate Could Lead To More Real World Attacks On Parliamentarians


Political parties