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Friday, 16 November, 2001, 14:25 GMT
The role of MPs: Should this be their only job?
The former Conservative party leader William Hague has added two new roles to his current job as backbench Tory MP. He is one of many MPs who get extra income from outside employment

Mr Hague has taken up a post as political and economic adviser to JCB, one of the UK's largest companies.

He has also become non-executive director of AES Engineering, based in Rotherham, the South Yorkshire town where he grew up.

Many other senior politicians have taken up lucrative business links, including Ken Clarke, who earns 100,000 a year as vice-chairman of British American Tobacco.

Do you think politicians should be free to put their business skills to use outside Parliament? Or should they dedicate all their energies to their role as an MP?

This Talking Point was suggested by John, UK:

It's just been announced that William Hague is to take up a part-time directorship with a construction company, at a salary of 45,000 per annum. Should our politicians be free to work outside parliament as a way of "keeping in touch with reality", or should we expect them to dedicate all their energies to their role as an MP?

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They're moonlighting in other jobs

Richard, UK
MPs didn't want a televised House of Commons for this very reason. You only have to flip across parliament TV channels to see the House is usually empty. They're not "away, working in their constituencies". They're moonlighting in other jobs - and ones that surely must compromise their democratic integrity.
Richard, UK

Let's have them on a flexitime keycard system. Then pay them pro-rata for the time they are actually there!
Graham, Scotland

Politicians should have jobs in the real world before they go into politics so they have some real-life experience to bring to the job. Once they are elected, however, they should put 100% of their effort into this, and forsake other jobs. Anyone else lucky enough to have a choice of jobs has to decide on just one. Why not MPs?
David Hazel, UK

Why shouldn't MPs have the right to more than one job?

Alan Drew, UK
Why shouldn't MPs have the right to more than one job? I see nothing wrong in them having part time directorships so long as the time spent devoted to their public office is not reduced. One must ask the question, however, would a politician who has employment other than in public office be truly impartial when making decisions that could effect their alternative employers?
Alan Drew, UK

The trouble is that so many of today's MPs have so little experience of real life. This could be overcome by having a minimum age of 40 before standing for Parliament. The wisest people are those elderly members of organisations such as the WRVS, Townswomens' Guilds, Mothers' Union and Womens' Institutes. They would all make excellent MPs.
Anthony, England

If I had a second job my employer would take a very dim view of it!! We employ MPs to work for us in Parliament. How can they possibly do that if they are off working elsewhere? Perhaps they should have an employment contract like everyone else.
Ian, UK

They obliged to take a pay cut from their full time MP's salary

Ian, UK
They should adopt the behaviour of Formula One drivers and whilst sat in the House of Commons, should be contractually obliged to wear baseball caps bearing their sponsors' names. Then at least the public could see the true motives and distribution of power within this corporate-puppet, pay-rolled democracy. They should also be obliged to take a pay cut from their full time MP's salary (in excess of 60,000) in proportion to the amount of their time they are now spending working for private interests.
Ian, UK

With the salary and allowances that MPs get, they really shouldn't have other jobs. Most of us have to manage on much less than they do. The hours of parliament should be changed so that there is no scope for outside employment.
David Blake, UK

Are we really concerned that these politicians who take up additional jobs may not be able to devote sufficient time and energy to being an MP, or are we really just peeved that they may be earning more than we are?
Simon Moore, UK

It is their moral duty to surrender any other occupations and work entirely for people and Parliament

Wesley Streeting, UK
To have the representatives of the people working outside of Parliament for their own personal financial gain is an affront to Parliamentary democracy and can be of no benefit to their electors. When people put themselves forward as Parliamentary candidates and are elected, it is their moral duty to surrender any other occupations and work entirely for people and Parliament. If William Hague wants a career in business, he should vacate his seat.
Wesley Streeting, UK

It should be outlawed as soon as possible

Peter, UK

When I vote for an MP, I expect him/her to devote all of their working time to representing the interests of myself and other constituents, not to have divided loyalties between the interests of the constituents and whichever business has also purchased their services. Most employers quite reasonably expect you to seek their permission before doing other work - why shouldn't this apply to MPs? The whole business of serving MPs doing other jobs represents an anti-democratic conflict of interests not dissimilar to that raised by the cash for questions scandal a few years ago - it should be outlawed as soon as possible.
Peter, UK

I work full time as a scientist and get paid far less than an MP. I'm so busy I could not work another job. It must be nice for these MPs to have time for other jobs on top of their MP work and get two wages. It shouldn't be allowed. They must work the full day as an MP.
Jim, UK

MPs now want to become authors and TV celebrities rather than doing the job for which they are paid

Part of the reason for the decline of the UK is the fact that MPs now want to become authors and TV celebrities rather than doing the job for which they are paid. An MP should be like a police officer, always on duty, 24 hours of the day. Instead, they want to make money and be liked. Who started this cancer? People like Austin Mitchell, Edwina Currie and now Ann Widdecombe, for God's sake, spending time writing a novel as SHADOW HOME SECRETARY. Let the WI and D-Day Veterans' Association run Parliament is what I say.

I don't have enough time for one job, let alone three. I just don't believe he could be giving his best to any of his employers.

I see no harm in them pursuing parallel employment, at least that way someone might get a day's work out of them. It is not as if their parliamentary duties absorb much time after all, merely turning up occasionally to toe the Party Line and hand in their expenses. They do enough damage in a part-time role, for heaven's sake don't force them into devoting more time hassling the electorate!
Shaun, Teignmouth, UK


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