Opinion: 'Being an MP should be a full-time job' – Northwich Guardian

I was intrigued by the work done by journalists at Sky News and Tortoise Media recently who collaborated to pull together all the income MPs have received from sources other than their parliamentary salaries.
At this point, I think it is only right and proper to point out that the base salary for an MP is £84,144.
For comparison, the government’s own ONS figures show the average [male] salary in 2022 was around £30,000 and the current starting salary for a Band 5 Nurse in the UK is £27,055 per year, less than a third of what a back bench MP earns.
So back to the Sky News report. By and large, the extra money made by MPs is a combination of donations, gifts and income from second jobs.
While I think there should be careful scrutiny of those donations and gifts, there is no question of impropriety here.
All the donations have been correctly entered in the register of MPs’ interests and are there for all to see.
But the question of income from second jobs doesn’t sit well with me and raises some interesting questions.
Just look at some of the big hitters. Somewhat surprisingly, former prime minister Theresa May tops the list.
Her side hustles pulled in a staggering £2.8 million but Boris Johnson is coming up fast on the rails. He netted an extra £1.2 million now he’s got himself a gig giving speeches for vast sums.
What staggers me is that contrary to popular opinion, Johnson is an absolutely terrible public speaker and I say this with the benefit of personal experience having once been made to sit through one of his truly awful, dull, meandering after dinner speeches.
But I think when people vote, they expect their MP to work for their constituents.
That’s their job for which they are, by any standards, well paid. I don’t expect them to be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week but I do expect that their parliamentary and constituency work to be sufficient to fill a normal working week.
It should not be a part-time job leaving them free to go out and get other work.
And there is another question to be asked. We, the people, the voters, should be the paymasters of our MPs.
So if an MP is earning a load of cash by working for another organisation, where do their loyalties lie?
Labour leader Sir Kier Starmer has consistently called for a ban on second jobs for MPs with some exceptions including those MPs who work part-time as doctors or nurses and those who need to maintain professional accreditation or top up their skills by working such as lawyers, airline pilots and accountants.
But Sir Kier found himself on the back foot last week when the Sky News investigation revealed shadow foreign secretary David Lammy earned £200,000 from second jobs this parliament.
Sir Keir told the Sky News Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme: “I think David does a lot of media work, and I think media work and writing books is all part of the political process.
“But there’s a discussion to be had, I was urging the whole House of Commons to agree new rules because I do think we should get rid of second jobs – with some exceptions.”
Not sure I agree with Sir Kier on that one. As I said earlier, with one or two honourable exceptions, being an MP should be a full-time job and getting paid for a regular media slot – as opposed to appearing on a news show to give you and your party’s views – smacks of not giving your constituents your full attention.
So what of our MPs? First up is Tatton Tory MP Esther McVey who pulled in a handsome second income of £95,550. And guess what formed the bulk of that? Yep, you’re right £58,010 was from her regular show on GB News.
Fortunately, I’m not one of her constituents but I think I would be having a few words if I was.
Weaver Vale’s Labour MP Mike Amesbury didn’t earn anything from a second job, neither did Eddisbury’s Tory MP Edward Timpson.
But the title of biggest second earning MP in mid Cheshire surely goes to Fiona Bruce, the Tory MP for Congleton. She is comfortably in the top 10 of those declaring extra income at a very healthy £712,300.
According to the Sky News website, £500 of that came from gifts from the All Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief. And what of the rest, well £711,700 came from her Stockton Heath-based legal practice Fiona Bruce and Co LLP.
I really have no comment to make on that one.
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