Restrictions on MPs’ second jobs dropped as Dirt Guard calls for ban on consulting
The Standards Committee wants to ban MPs from undeclared work as paid political advisers and tighten lobbying rules – but a push for a crackdown on side jobs has been dropped
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Calls for a crackdown on MPs with lucrative part-time jobs have been dropped in a restructuring of Parliament’s anti-pollution rules.
The Standards Committee wants to ban MPs from undeclared work as paid political advisers and tighten lobbying rules to clean up politics.
But proposals to limit MPs’ hours or pay for their part-time jobs were dropped.
Boris Johnson was mortified to have promised last year to crack down on MPs doing lucrative outside work as he tried to stem a row over the smut engulfing the Tory party.
Former Cabinet Secretary Owen Paterson was forced to resign in November for breaking Parliament’s rules by lobbying on behalf of two companies.
Mr Johnson tried to tear up the dirty rules to save his Tory colleague, but the Prime Minister was forced to back down amid a huge backlash.
The dispute also sparked a wider scrutiny of MPs’ behavior, leading to an uproar over second jobs.
Former Attorney General Geoffrey Cox, who made more than £1million for his work as a lawyer last year, has come under fire for working from his Commons office on a corruption investigation in the British Virgin Islands.
However, it later emerged that the government had backed away from the idea of restricting second jobs.
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Steve Barclay and leader of the House of Commons Mark Spencer told the committee it would be “impractical” and could unfairly ban MPs from doing things like writing books in their free time.
The committee has now proposed a total ban on paid advice as part of the restructuring of MEPs’ code of conduct.
Lobbying rules would be tightened to fill a loophole allowing MPs to approach ministers if they don’t “initiate” the approach.
Ministers would also be forced to declare hospitality and interests in the same way as ordinary MPs, who have 28 days to provide information about benefits received.
Government ministers only have to do this as part of quarterly transparency publications.
Boris Johnson was able to use this gap last year to holiday at Tory colleague Zac Goldsmith’s holiday home in Marbella.
He made a ministerial statement but, unlike the Commons Register, was not required to provide a cost estimate for the stay.
Leader Chris Bryant urged MPs to adopt the recommendations, with votes expected before the summer recess.
“The last year has shown that the public is passionate about standards in Parliament – and so are MPs,” he said.
“If passed, these proposals will not only improve MPs’ scrutiny and balance and shine a light on any wrongdoing, but will also provide MPs with new clarity and support to avoid unintentional breaches of the rules.
“Each generation of MPs holds House membership in trust for the next generation. That can either boost or tarnish the reputation of the House of Representatives.”
A government spokesman said: “We will carefully examine the Committee on Standards’ report.
“The government supports the proposals to strengthen and clarify lobbying rules and ban MPs from performing paid parliamentary services to ensure parliamentary duties always take precedence.
“Any changes must be pushed forward across party lines to ensure a robust and fair standards system supported by the public and MPs alike.”
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/curbs-mps-second-jobs-ditched-27053972 Restrictions on MPs' second jobs dropped as Dirt Guard calls for ban on consulting