Of the people, for themselves

Second jobs, and jobs for the boys and girls

Sitting MPs taking second jobs is always controversial, with critics arguing that representing constituents should be a full time occupation. But when an MP is also a recent cabinet minister, the issue becomes still more contentious.

Sajid Javid, MP for Bromsgrove and Chancellor of the Exchequer until as recently as February, has accepted a job with US bank, JP Morgan, on an undisclosed salary. He will sit on the bank’s advisory council for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The appointment has raised eyebrows and some concerns, particularly in regard to access to privileged information.

But the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, set up to guard against potential corruption and the ‘revolving door’ between the top of government and the worlds of finance and industry, has raised no objection to the appointment, merely offering Mr Javid some fairly mild ‘advice’ on the use of privileged information, lobbying the government and using his contacts to influence bank policy.

Mr Javid is far from being the first former senior minister to take on extra work while still an MP. After being sacked as Chancellor, George Osborne took up a position as an advisor to the Black Rock Investment Institute and became Editor of the London Evening Standard.

And former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, accepted several positions outside the political area whilst still in parliament. Some, if not all of these appointments though, were unpaid.

But Mr Brown also found time to write a book in the three months after stepping down as prime minister, leading some to suggest that he might be neglecting the day job.

Across the way from the Commons, numbers in ‘the other place’ recently increased significantly, when Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, added his brother and 35 more friends and other guaranteed supporters to the already overcrowded House of Lords benches.

Future prime ministers, when Leader of the Opposition, have spoken often of drastically reducing numbers in the Lords, only to have a sudden change of mind after coming to power.

Mr Johnson is by no means the first prime minister to add to the Lords with a raft of his own ‘cronies’ and he will almost certainly not be the last.

What our surveys show

More of us than not believe that MP’s having another job, or jobs, is a clear conflict of interest and should not, in any circumstances, be allowed.

Those against second jobs stood at 58% while just 30% thought that MP’s should be permitted to take up other work, but 19% of those said that controls to manage conflicts of interest needed to be in place.

The Prime Minister’s addition of 36 new members of the House of Lords has very clearly left the public feeling uneasy, with 43% of us saying that Mr Johnson’s actions show contempt for our institutions.

A massive 83% of us think that the Lords is out-dated and needs some sort of serious reform, with 19% of those believing that we should go much further as ‘the other place’ is now beyond redemption, and therefore should be abolished.

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