MPs face crackdown on second jobs gravy train

MPs face crackdown on second jobs gravy train: Boris Johnson urges colleagues to focus on their constituencies as standards committee looks to ban them from working as consultants

  • Review by Commons standards committee could ban MPs from consultant work
  • Source says PM expects MPs to treat their constituency work as the primary role
  • Some 30 MPs earn thousands of pounds extra each year for work as consultants 
  • It comes after ex-MP Owen Paterson broke the rules while working for two firms

MPs face a crackdown on second jobs after Boris Johnson yesterday declared they should focus on their constituencies.

A review by the standards committee is looking at banning them from working as consultants.

Ministers also are considering options such as limiting the number of hours that MPs can work outside the Commons.

Second jobs have been in the spotlight since the resignation of Owen Paterson who was found to have broken lobbying rules while working for two firms that paid him more than £500,000.

Dozens of MPs including Chris Grayling (L) and Julian Smith (R) could be banned from taking second jobs as consultants under a revision of rules by the Commons Standards Committee

Fresh scrutiny has been applied after the Daily Mail revealed yesterday former attorney general Sir Geoffrey Cox has earned hundreds of thousands of pounds from a second job that saw him vote in Parliament remotely from the Caribbean.

Chris Bryant, Labour chairman of the Commons standards committee, yesterday confirmed that a report on the MPs’ code of conduct this month is set to make recommendations on second jobs.

He said the report would consider a recommendation from the committee on standards in public life that MPs should be banned from taking consultancy jobs that involve lobbying.

In a finding three years ago, the watchdog said: ‘Where MPs are engaging in paid political or parliamentary advisory or consultancy work, they are potentially perpetuating the public concern that MPs are using their public office for personal gain by taking on roles which they have only been awarded because they are an MP.’

A No 10 spokesman yesterday said Mr Johnson did not support an ‘outright ban’ on second jobs, as it would ‘catch those who still work in roles such as doctors and nurses’. But they added that Mr Johnson expected MPs to treat representing their constituents as their ‘primary role’.

MPs Mark Garnier (L) and Andrew Mitchell (R) could lose £90k and £182k a year respectively under proposed new rules banning members from taking high-paying jobs as consultants

A Government source later said ministers were ‘open’ to possible reforms, such as limiting the hours an MP can work on a second job.

They said: ‘Ideally people would not need rules to force them to focus on their job as an MP, but unfortunately we can see that is not always the case.’

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle yesterday said he would not favour the introduction of a cap on how much MPs can earn outside the Commons.

He told Times Radio: ‘I’m not convinced by a cap, but the House needs to look at it itself and what kind of MP we want representing us.’

MPs who work as consultants for private businesses must declare any earnings over £100.

They are banned from asking questions, approaching ministers or introducing legislation in return for payment.

A No 10 spokesman yesterday said Mr Johnson did not support an ‘outright ban’ on second jobs but that he expected MPs to treat representing their constituents as their ‘primary role

MPs who were ministers must also seek the approval of the advisory committee on business appointments if they take up a job outside Parliament less than two years after leaving office.

Some 30 MPs earn thousands of pounds extra a year for work as consultants. The outside earnings of several dwarf their Commons salary of £81,932 a year.

Former Cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell is paid £182,000 on top of his MP’s salary for six consultancy jobs, while Tory former chief whip Julian Smith earns £144,000 for three firms.

Conservative former transport secretary Chris Grayling earns £100,000 advising operator Hutchison Ports Europe, and Tory Mark Garnier earns £90,000 a year advising two companies.

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