Opinion: ‘Being an MP should be a full-time job’

I was intrigued by the work done recently by journalists from Sky News and Tortoise Media, who have worked together to collate all the income MPs have received from sources other than their parliamentary salaries.

At this point, I think it is fair and appropriate to point out that an MP’s basic salary is £84,144.

For comparison, the government’s own ONS figures show the average [male] the salary in 2022 was around £30,000 and the current starting salary for a Band 5 nurse in the UK is £27,055 a year, less than a third of what a full-back MP earns -ban.

So back to the Sky News report. Overall, the extra money earned by MPs is a combination of donations, gifts and income from second jobs.

While I think there should be careful scrutiny of these donations and gifts, there is no question of impropriety here.

All donations have been properly entered into the Members’ Register of Interests and are visible to all.

But the question of second job earnings does not sit well with me and raises some interesting questions.

Look at some of the heavy hitters. Surprisingly enough, former Prime Minister Theresa May tops the list.

His side hustle netted £2.8million but Boris Johnson is quickly getting on the rails. He’s brought in an extra £1.2million now that he has a gig himself giving speeches for huge sums.

What amazes me is that contrary to popular opinion Johnson is an absolutely terrible public speaker and I say this with the benefit of personal experience of having already been forced to sit through the one of his truly awful, boring, meandering after-dinner speeches.

But I think when people vote, they expect their MP to work for their constituents.

It is their work for which they are, by all accounts, well paid. I don’t expect them to be on call 24/7, but I do expect their parliamentary and constituency work to be enough to fill a normal work week.

It shouldn’t be a part-time job leaving them free to go out and get another job.

And there is another question to ask. We, the people, the voters, should pay our MPs.

So if an MP makes a lot of money working for another organization, where does his loyalty go?

Labor leader Sir Kier Starmer has consistently called for a ban on second jobs for MPs, with some exceptions including MPs who work part-time as doctors or nurses and those who must maintain their accreditation or hone their skills by working as lawyers, airline pilots and accountants.

But Sir Kier found himself on the hook last week when Sky News’ investigation revealed that shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy had earned £200,000 from a second job at the parliament.

Sir Keir told Sky News Sophy Ridge on Sunday: ‘I think David does a lot of media work, and I think media work and writing books is part of the political process.

“But there is a discussion to be had, I was urging the whole House of Commons to agree new rules because I think we should get rid of second jobs – with a few exceptions.”

I’m not sure I agree with Sir Kier on that one. As I said earlier, with one or two honorable exceptions, being an MP should be a full-time job and get paid for a regular media slot – instead of appearing on a news show to give you, to you and your party, opinions – it smacks of no give your voters your full attention.

So what about our MPs? First up is Tatton Tory MP Esther McVey who pulled in a handsome second earner of £95,550. And guess what made it essential? Yes, you’re right, £58,010 came from his regular show on GB News.

Luckily, I’m not one of his constituents, but I think I’d have a few words to say if that were the case.

Labor MP for Weaver Vale, Mike Amesbury, gained nothing from a second job, nor did Tory MP for Eddisbury, Edward Timpson.

But the title of second most important MP in the middle of Cheshire surely goes to Fiona Bruce, the Conservative MP for Congleton. She is comfortably in the top 10 of those reporting extra income at £712,300 in very good health.

According to the Sky News website, £500 of that sum came from donations from the All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief. And what of the rest, £711,700 came from his Stockton Heath-based law firm Fiona Bruce and Co LLP.

I really have no comment to make on that.

Leave a Reply