Fringe Box



Guildford’s MP Supports Government Proposal to Limit Second Jobs

Published on: 18 Nov, 2021
Updated on: 19 Nov, 2021

Commons speaker Lesley Hoyle (right) warning Boris Johnson about his conduct at PMQs, reminding him it was his role to answer questions at the weekly event.

By Martin Giles

Guildford’s MP, Angela Richardson, fully supports the government proposals to limit “second jobs” for MPs. But she thinks that there should be exceptions for those who need to keep up to date professional qualifications or who work in the NHS or charitable sector.

Yesterday (November 17), she voted for the government’s proposal that is expected to lead to a ban on them taking paid political consultancy work but obeyed the government whip to vote against a Labour motion that would have directed the standards committee to draw up and implement the new rules to ban consultancy work by January 31.

The issue became the subject of fierce political debate at this week’s PMQs in the wake of the government’s U-turn on the Owen Paterson case when an initial decision to reconsider the rules before the former MP could be suspended caused an outcry from the opposition and a rebellion in the government ranks, Ms Richardson herself abstaining in the relevant vote.

See also: Guildford’s MP Sacked as PPS and Restored Within Hours, As Government Reconsiders Standards Proposal

A contrite Boris Johnson has been reported to have told his own backbenchers that he had “crashed the car” on the issue. The prime minister has conceded publicly that he made a mistake in “conflating” changes to the Parliamentary standards system with the disciplinary process for Mr Paterson, who broke lobbying rules.

Angela Richardson speaking in the House of Commons in November 2020.

Ms Richardson told The Dragon today: “MPs have been able to have second jobs to keep themselves in professional practice and allow them to continue to experience life outside Parliament. Being an MP is always subject to the electorate and it is only right that MPs can keep professional qualifications up to date in case they are needed.

“But in changing times and the fast-paced world in which we now live, it is important MPs can provide immediacy and focus on representing people at a moment’s notice. We are often responding to social media and 24-hour news and being an MP means placing your constituents’ needs paramount.

“I do not have a second job – being a mother to my three children is quite enough as well as being busy seven days a week as an MP. I don’t think second jobs need to be ended wholesale; work in law, the NHS or the charitable sector, for example, I don’t necessarily see as being an issue.

“But I don’t believe MPs should have secondary jobs that could conflict with the principle of constituents’ interests being paramount – lobbyists and consultants are the examples that have been given. The government has my full support in considering stopping those going forward.”

All four MPs whose constituencies overlap Guildford Borough were asked to comment. Only Ms Richardson replied. Of the four, only Sir Paul Beresford has a declared second job, as a dentist, but for only 25 hours per month, the kind of work most politicians agree should be allowed.

See also: Local MPs’ Declared Outside Interests

Zoe Franklin who is the Lib Dem’s provisional Parliamentary candidate said it was only the public reaction that caused the Conservatives to change tack: “It’s crucial to note that this issue is only in the news because Boris Johnson tried to rig the system as he didn’t like the judgement against one of his Members of Parliament who breached standards rules. The public reaction to this was of disgust and anger which took the Conservatives by surprise. Without this public disgust the Conservatives would be continuing business as usual when it comes to second jobs.

Zoe Franklin

“I believe that MPs must always remember they have been elected to serve their constituents and act on that basis. Some choose to give their support to good causes that are complementary to their role as an MP which makes sense. However, it is a very different matter when MPs, as with Geoffrey Cox MP, take up roles that represent a potential conflict of interest or take up parliamentary time. This is what we must stamp out.

“I am pleased that Parliament will now look at MPs’ second jobs but it’s important that they are given advice and support on this by the Independent Commissioner otherwise they will once again be ‘marking their own homework’ which is unacceptable and will not restore public trust in MPs and Parliament.”

Howard Smith

And Howard Smith, Guildford Labour vice-chair commented: “It’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with the number of cases of Conservative MPs making eye-watering amounts of money, simply by virtue of their status in parliament.

“MPs are there to represent their constituents, not big business. Further, it’s disappointing to see that Angela Richardson could not find it within her to support Keir Starmer’s lead in cleaning up this mess.

“Much of it is corruption plain and simple and you have to decide which side you are on. As Keir said yesterday, ‘Labour gave the Conservatives the chance to do the right thing and vote to immediately stop MPs working on dodgy second jobs. They didn’t do it.’ ”

Sallie Barker

Sallie Barker, chair of the Guildford Conservative Association, said: “In Guildford, we’re extremely fortunate to have an MP who dedicates all her time to her constituency and Parliamentary work, usually very long hours, seven days a week, and Angela Richardson is someone who puts the needs of her constituents first.

“Whilst historically there has been a rationale for why MPs have second jobs, the demands on an MP’s time are now such that holding down a second job has the potential to conflict with being available to deal with residents’ concerns.

“Guildford Conservatives would support any action by the government to stop MPs’ second jobs where there is conflict with the principle of constituents’ interests coming first.”

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