George Osborne is taking the proverbial!! 6 jobs whilst an MP?! Editor of the London Evening Standard??!! I don’t know what all of the six jobs are and maybe some of them require him to just turn up for a 2 hour meeting once a year but the point is that either he isn’t spending enough time on his work as an MP, for which all British tax payers pay him, or there are too many MPs in the Commons relative to the amount of work that is required of them (my guess is that both of those apply).
On the other hand, if MPs aren’t permitted to have another job, most of them will come from the privileged sphere, ‘professional’ politicians, Etonians and Harrovians, mostly those who grow up with a sense of entitlement, those who can afford to be an MP, those for whom salaries are irrelevant. It’s in the interests of the UK for MPs to come from all walks of life and if a person who is well qualified and appropriate to serve as MP earns, say, £100K per annum working in hi-tech, he/she may need to top up his/her salary as an MP (currently about £75K per annum) if he/she is going to be able to afford to leave his/her job.
Maybe this should be a watershed moment, a time to reassess. My ‘guess’ is that 650 (I think it is) MPs is simply too many – I find it hard to believe that a nation the size of the UK can’t manage with half that number. Couldn’t we cut the 650 down to 325 and increase the salary from £75K per annum ish to £100K? Less need for MPs to take second jobs and less of a financial burden on the State.
It’s a tough one, a balancing act – we don’t want MPs working third and fourth jobs just to make ends meet (to be able to keep the lifestyle they had before going into politics) but neither do we want the Commons to simply be a club for the wealthy and the privileged.
Reduce the number of MPs, increase the salaries and legislate to ensure that MPs spend a stated minimum amount of time per month on their Parliamentary work.
One might argue that such legislation isn’t necessary, that if MPs don’t do enough work for their constituents, those constituents will throw their MPs out at Election time but that isn’t necessarily so – MPs can say that they are working hard for their constituents and get one or two stories into the local press to support their protestations. Moreover, if a constituency is, say, Tory, most of the Tory voters will vote for the Tory MP regardless of whether or not he or she is ‘putting in the hours’.