Many thanks for contacting me about MPs and second jobs.
The primary job of MPs is and must be to serve their constituents and represent their interests in Parliament. They should be visible in their constituencies and available to help their constituents with constituency matters. If they do not fulfil this role, they will rightly be judged on that by their constituents at the next election.
While Members of Parliament have duties and responsibilities to represent their constituents both in the constituency and in Westminster, they have long been allowed to have a second job. I believe that in some circumstances, having a second job can broaden Members' perspectives and experience which can contribute to their expertise. It is important to note that Members must register individual payments of more than £100 which they receive for any employment outside the House. They must also register individual payments of £100 or less once they have received a cumulative total of over £300 in payments of whatever size from the same source in a calendar year.
In light of recent events, I am glad that the Prime Minister proposed that recommendations 1 and 10 of the Committee on Standards in Public Life's 2018 report on MPs' outside interests be implemented. These recommendations state that "any outside activity undertaken by an MP... should be within reasonable limits and should not prevent them from fully carrying out their range of duties" and that "MPs should not accept any paid work to provide services as a Parliamentary strategist, adviser or consultant" paid or unpaid.
As you may be aware, changes to the Code of Conduct are a matter for Parliament itself and, as such, I am encouraged that the House of Commons voted in favour of these recommendations. These changes are being brought forward through cross-party work, including that being done by the House’s Committee on Standards. Indeed, the Committee on Standards published its initial report concerning proposals for changes to the Code of Conduct for MPs in November 2021. The Committee on Standards accepted contributions and responses to the proposals published in its initial report as part of a consultation.
The UK Government submitted written evidence to the Committee on Standards as part of its consultation. The UK Government is fully committed to upholding the highest standards in public life but has raised legitimate concerns over the practicality of some of the recommendations made in the Committee on Standards’ initial report.
My colleagues and I await with interest the Standards Committee’s final report and look forward to further debate on this matter to ensure that our Standards system commands both the confidence of the public and Members on a cross-party basis.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
21 March 2022