The Thick of It

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

An MP should be an MP and nothing else

I've always felt that an MP should be and MP first and last. Representing your constituents is paid as a full time job and should be treated as such. MPs, mostly Tories, have often had outside paid employment, which is wrong. Kenneth Clarke and William Hague are two key examples.

Working for a tobacco firm as Clarke does, or earning around £1m in additional income as Hague does, opens up MPs to several weaknesses. The first is that they are not devoting their time to representing their constituents fully, or to their (shadow) ministerial duties. Further, it opens them up to accusations of being influenced by outside interests. Much of the additional income from these outside consultancies will come from firms seeking influence. Why else would they pay politicians? Therefore, if a company pays an MP or minister, they are seeking to influence them.

A benefit of the MPs' expense scandal is that we might finally get to the stage where by seeking probity, politicians divest themselves of these outside interests. Voters are entitled to ask their MPs what they are doing to represent them if they are being paid to do something else when they are also being paid by the taxpayer to represent their constituents.

Hague has finally hinted that he may give up his outside interests. It is absolutely right that he should do so and others should follow. For the public to have any confidence in our politicians we need MPs who are MPs and purely that. State funding of political parties will mean accusations of cash for influence will die too. The sooner this happens the better.

1 comment:

Idle Pen Pusher said...

"Representing your constituents is paid as a full time job and should be treated as such."

And how about the member for Kircaldy and Cowdenbeath? Perhaps his devotion to constituency matters explains his lacklustre performance in his other job?