How MPs’ second jobs don’t give them experience of the UK economy


Nearly three times as many UK MPs reported income from financial services companies than from industry, FT analysis revealed – one of many imbalances that can complicate Tories’ efforts to defend rights. lawmakers to pursue a part-time career.

the right of Members to take up a second job, which political rank this month was forbidden by Jacob Rees-Mogg, Leader of the House of Commons. He told Parliament it was “a historic force. . . that MPs should have a bigger target than the Westminster bubble ”.

The government has now proposed rule changes to prohibit MPs from working too many hours outside or acting as political consultants – but to preserve their right to other income. A report on how the new rules work is expected to be released by an all-party committee next week.

In statements made since the last election in 2019, some of which relate to the year before the vote, 37 MPs recorded income of various kinds from financial services companies – the largest block of corporate income in this country. type. The sector accounts for 8.1 percent of UK GDP.

These include long-standing contractual relationships as well as one-off payments – such as the £ 160,000 paid to Theresa May, the former Prime Minister, by JPMorgan Chase in April 2020. The sum was an ‘early payment’ for two speeches that were postponed by the pandemic; she hasn’t given one yet.

In contrast, only 13 MPs received revenues from manufacturers, which contribute 9.9 percent of GDP. Only 8 MPs have financial ties to retailers, who contribute 4.9 percent. Public relations or lobbying firms employed 30 MPs.

Hannah White, deputy director of the Institute for Government which previously headed the Independent Committee on Standards in Public Life, said: The experience MPs actually gain is so unrepresentative of the UK economy.

It became a partisan issue due to an imbalance between the incumbents of these positions: the positions listed above were filled by 68 Tory MPs and only 18 lawmakers from all other parties combined.

The matter was also brought to public attention by the actions of Owen Paterson, a former Conservative cabinet minister, who was recognized by a bipartisan committee for “repeatedly using his position as a member promote the companies through which he was paidIn a way not allowed by the rules. The government flogged its MPs to save it from proposed sanctions – only to be forced to retreat in the face of a public backlash.

Some forms of external income are more bipartisan: 155 MPs have received additional funding by filling out polls for pollsters – receiving between £ 30 and £ 275 for each poll, which typically takes less than an hour.

Meanwhile, 105 MPs reported media income, mostly for writing articles (including for the FT group) or television appearances. 63 others held paid positions in local government. 23 others reported income from book publishing.

Westminster MPs are authorized to put pressure on ministers in the name of the companies which offered them money or gifts, and to defend them in the debates until they have not “initiated” conversations or debates. Customers should not either benefit “exclusively” from everything they offer. They should also not use parliamentary facilities for commercial purposes.

These rules are weaker than in UK decentralized parliaments, and significantly weaker than those in the US House of Representatives – where there is a cap for certain types of income earned and outright bans for d ‘others.

Members of the House of Representatives are forbidden to exercise the right to prevent them from having contradictory public and private functions.

In the UK, Lawyers are licensed to practice and are not required to disclose their end clients. The 30 MPs reporting income from the law – mostly as lawyers – include some of Parliament’s biggest employees, such as Sir Geoffrey Cox, the former attorney general. Cox, whose sheer volume of work outside helped fuel outrage over second-time MPs jobs, told the FT that lawyers had been hired “to advise and represent.” . . on a specific issue or in dispute ”, not for general representation.

Lawyers are strongly represented in parliament, but with accounting, of which 7 MPs declared their income, the legal sector contributes only 2.7 percent of GDP.

In the United States, members of the House are prohibited from accepting most gifts – with a special ban on gifts from lobbyists or anyone who also hires a lobbyist. Such a bar does not exist in the UK, where 26 MPs have registered giveaways from betting companies and their lobbying body. In total, 111 deputies received gifts or invitations from sports companies.

The biggest gift went to Tracey Crouch, who has just completed a review of English football regulations on behalf of the UK government. She said a hospitality package of £ 4,560 from the Football Association, England’s sports body, to watch a football match.

“It turns out that this is just a small group of companies that are most interested in paying and entertaining MPs,” said Duncan Hames, former MP and policy director at Transparency International UK . “The fact that these companies are often heavily regulated suggests more interest in their parliamentary role than the previous experience they might bring.”

MPs are allowed to own up to £ 70,000 of company stock without registering ownership, as long as the stake constitutes less than 15 percent of the capital. They are not required to indicate participation in funds. In the United States, members of the House of Representatives must report stakes over $ 1,000, as well as all other investments.

A person involved in the administration of the current UK system told the FT that she was “very skeptical” of comparisons with the United States – “especially because of [US politicians’] need to increase campaign funding ”. This, they said, has led US politicians to be “more attached to big business.”

Activists are calling for much more radical reforms than those currently being considered. Hames said: “There are still too many blind spots for the wrongdoing to hide. . . This could avoid a lot of problems if, as in many other workplaces, those wishing for a second job or other contractual relationship first seek permission from an independent body, just as former ministers are supposed to be. do it. “

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