Cameron cold-shoulders calls to limit commercial corruption of MPs

Cameron's attitude to Parliamentary corruption: When he brought in the Lobbying Act, it ensured that rich corporations had unfettered access to MPs and the Prime Minister, while effectively banning the public from speaking out against it.

Cameron’s attitude to Parliamentary corruption: When he brought in the Lobbying Act, it ensured that rich corporations had unfettered access to MPs and the Prime Minister himself.

The Labour Party is banning its MPs from holding paid directorships and consultancies, to ensure that their only interest is their duty to their constituents.

Labour MPs and Prospective Parliamentary Candidates have been put on notice that, from the coming General Election, the party’s standing orders will be changed to prevent them holding such second jobs.

The measure, which Ed Miliband has confirmed will be included in the party’s manifesto, would ensure no Labour MP holds a paid directorship or consultancy.

Labour is also consulting on legislative measures including placing a strict cap – similar to one that exists for members of the US Congress – on any additional money they can earn beyond their salary as representatives of the people.

Mr Miliband’s actions follow a series of allegations over recent years, about how MPs from both sides of the House of Commons have risked a conflict of interest by seeking or taking paid work from outside organisations.

Most recently, former Foreign Secretaries Jack Straw (Labour) and Sir Malcolm Rifkind (Conservative) were secretly filmed apparently offering their services to a private company for cash.

It is claimed Mr Straw – a major figure in New Labour – said he had used his influence to change EU rules on behalf of a firm which paid him £60,000 a year.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind, who is chairman of Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, is reported to have told reporters posing as representatives of a fake Chinese firm that he could arrange “useful access” to every British ambassador in the world.

Mr Miliband has written to Tory leader David Cameron, challenging him to impose on Conservative MPs the same restrictions as are being placed on Labour’s.

The letter states: “I write … not just as leader of the Labour Party but as someone who believes that we all need to act to improve the reputation of our Parliament in the eyes of the British people.

“The British people need to know that when they vote they are electing someone who will represent them directly, and not be swayed by what they may owe to the interests of others.”

He added that Labour “is also consulting on legislation to make this a statutory ban, as well as imposing a strict cap on all outside earnings by MPs”.

Vox Political applauds this move by Mr Miliband and Labour.

Long-term readers may remember this site’s e-petition, on the government’s website, to ban MPs from speaking or voting in debates on matters which could lead to them, companies connected with them or donors to their political party, gaining money.

Labour’s move goes further than that, by banning MPs from having any financial connection with commercial operations and interests.

It seems unlikely that Mr Cameron will do the honourable thing, though.

He has removed the party whip from Rifkind, but said he has no control over the chairmanship of the Intelligence committee. Rifkind has stated that he will not willingly step down from it.

Cameron said he approves of MPs having second jobs.

He said Labour would allow someone to be a trade union official but not “to run the family shop” or something similar, which is a gross misinterpretation of the issue.

This is not about running family shops; it is about taking money from huge corporations, to impose commercial priorities on the nation to the detriment of the general public. But Cameron will never admit that, or speak out against it.

He supports it.


  1. thomassutcliffe February 23, 2015 at 1:17 pm - Reply

    Excellent stuff – and good on Mr Miliband for taking this stand.

  2. Rupert Mitchell (@rupert_rrl) February 23, 2015 at 1:34 pm - Reply

    I feel certain that the general public (your employer) Mr. Cameron do NOT approve of MP’s having second jobs and we have just seen one of the main reasons why that is. If an MP wishes to do his duty to his country (for the benefit of all not just the few) then pay him a good salary of up to £200K pa – taxed of course like the rest of us, but disallow second jobs.

  3. NMac February 23, 2015 at 2:06 pm - Reply

    Well done Ed Miliband. He has shown Cameron up for what he is, a slimy, greasy snake-oil salesman who is steeped in dishonesty and corruption.

  4. M de Mowbray February 23, 2015 at 2:11 pm - Reply

    Good on Ed! This SHOULD have happened decades ago, as it was clear that Lobbying and payments from companies causes at least the possibility of a conflict of interest. When many around me were angry about the recent big pay rise for MPs I was not, and said regularly that they should be paid a good rate, comparable to senior executives, (e.g. £800,000) on condition that they are paid to work for UK Plc, not for Megacorps Inc.

  5. Keith Lutener February 23, 2015 at 2:23 pm - Reply

    This is amazing news and the sort of thing that should have happened a long time ago. Cameron’s response to it is just typical. At the end of the day MPs are voted in to represent people not big business and the whole 2nd job thing is on very shaky ground.

  6. jeffrey davies February 23, 2015 at 2:25 pm - Reply

    its a start

  7. daijohn February 23, 2015 at 3:16 pm - Reply

    A very good move by Miliband and not before time. It will certainly put the tories on the back foot. I wonder if it will actually close the old revolving door (for Labour MPs) I look forward to the defensive drivel that will come from the right wing.

  8. chriskitcher February 23, 2015 at 4:44 pm - Reply

    …and about time.

  9. jaypot2012 February 23, 2015 at 5:35 pm - Reply

    Great news :)

  10. hstorm February 23, 2015 at 7:04 pm - Reply

    I suppose the Tories are in danger of backing themselves into a corner on the subject of second jobs. Remembering Autumn 2013, when Inept Drunken-Sh*t began formulating the policy of demanding people in low-paid work get a secondary job (instead of just raising the Minimum Wage to the Living Wage level), this is yet another issue on which a double-standard is indicated. If the Government favours forcing the poor to work even more, they can hardly oppose the idea of MPs doing it too. The voluntary/forced aspect is overlooked there of course, but Cameron will hope that most people fail to notice it.

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