Labour will ban MPs from having second jobs if elected, as part of a wide range of reforms intended to “clean up politics”.
The report highlights MPs working for consultancies and holding directorships as particularly problematic, and calls for a “general prohibition on second jobs… with a few exceptions” such as professions where continued employment is required to maintain professional members, such as medicine.
Labour has refused to say whether the ban would include speeches and presenting work, through which a senior Labour MP has earned more than £100,000 in the last year.
The party’s A New Britain report includes a number of other recommendations, including replacing the House of Lords with a smaller, elected chamber, but the party will now consult on the proposals before formally committing to them in an election manifesto.
Labour report calls for ban on most ‘second jobs’
Dozens of MPs could be forced to give up outside employment if Labour wins the next election, if the party opts to go ahead with one of the recommendations in a new report unveiled at an event in Leeds today (5 December).
The report states: “Recent high-profile examples of sitting MPs with outside earnings have shone a light on the significant number that hold second jobs, particularly consultancies and directorships. With the Government abandoning its already lukewarm attempt to address this issue, we believe there is a need for strong and decisive action is needed (sic).
“The MPs’ Code of Conduct should strengthened with a general prohibition on second jobs by members of Parliament, with few exceptions for employment required to maintain professional memberships, such as medicine.”
Depending on how you define a ‘second job’, somewhere between one in three and one in six MPs currently have one. Many MPs earn relatively small amounts through paid surveys for polling companies, or receive one-off payments for writing articles or appearing in the media, which could be said to be part of the job of being an MP.
However, a significant number of MPs have jobs outside of parliament which involve a regular time commitment, and are often extremely well-remunerated. The vast majority of MPs with these types of external jobs are Conservatives, many of whom work as consultants or advisers to private firms.
Duncan Hames, Director of Policy at Transparency International UK, said: “This package of reforms includes a number of very good ideas, which need not wait until after the next election and could be progressed without new laws before then. Parliament is already considering tighter rules on MPs’ second jobs, it is well within the power of the PM to give the government’s ethics adviser greater autonomy, and ending appointments to the Lords based on political patronage doesn’t need an Act of Parliament.
“Delivering changes like these now can show there is a genuine change in direction, and a willingness across the political divide to get Britain’s reputation for good governance and the rule of law back on track.”
Labour frontbencher earned more than £100,000 from speeches, presenting and writing
An investigation by NationalWorld last year found that MPs had collectively earned almost £10 million since Covid from second jobs, and that Conservative MPs had earned almost 90% of that.
Among Labour MPs, shadow Justice Secretary David Lammy earns the most from work outside of Westminster. Since October last year, Lammy has earned more than £108,000 from hosting a radio show on LBC, speaking engagements and a book advance.
Recently, a number of MPs including former Prime Ministers Boris Johnson and Theresa May have earned significant sums for one-off speaking engagements, as has former Chancellor Sajid Javid. Former Health Secretary Matt Hancock has been widely criticised for appearing on ITV’s ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here!’, for which he is expected to receive around £400,000, and Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins, which paid Hancock £45,000.
It is unclear whether these kinds of jobs would be banned under Labour’s policy. A spokesperson told NationalWorld that this and other details would be decided during the consultation period.
Excluding payments received for surveys, only a handful of Labour MPs currently have second jobs. Most earn relatively small sums from media work, writing books and giving speeches, while both Rosena Allin-Khan and Taiwo Owatemi work in the medical profession, which would be allowed under Labour’s proposals.
Asked whether Starmer would consider implementing a ban on Labour MPs having second jobs, the Labour leader said the party has “already set out our position in relation to second jobs”.
He said: “There are proposals in clear terms in the report and there is obviously a question of how we implement those, but we’ve actually set out a pretty compelling case on second jobs.”