MPs should be allowed to have second jobs, Downing Street insists

9 November 2021, 13:23 | Updated: 10 November 2021, 15:04

Boris Johnson skipped Monday's emergency Commons debate on Parliament's standards system
Boris Johnson skipped Monday's emergency Commons debate on Parliament's standards system. Picture: Alamy

By Patrick Grafton-Green

No 10 has defended MPs having second jobs, saying the House of Commons "can and historically has" benefitted.

A spokesman for Boris Johnson insisted "outside experience, where this is reasonable and an MP's parliamentary duties can still take priority" could help inform the House.

However, he would not be drawn on which professions were deemed acceptable.

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He added: "It's incumbent on them (MPs) to be able to demonstrate to the electorate that they are working on their behalf."

It comes as it was confirmed that the Government will bring forward a motion to unpick the controversial amendment passed last week which would have set up a committee to review standards procedures in the wake of the Owen Paterson saga.

The MP was found to have committed an "egregious" breach of lobbying rules by the existing system.

Referencing Monday's emergency Commons debate on Parliament's standards system, which Mr Johnson chose to skip, the spokesman said: "We recognise the strong views on this particular point and having listened to those again yesterday afternoon, we will table a motion tonight for next week to formalise the change of approach by unpicking the amendment."

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The motion will rescind the amendment passed last week and the proposed committee, while Downing Street said it would allow for the Commons to approve the standards report, while also recognising Owen Paterson is no longer an MP.

It was also confirmed today that the by-election caused by Mr Paterson's resignation will take place on December 16.

On second jobs for MPs, No 10 went on to say Mr Johnson would not back an outright ban.

The PM's spokesman said: "As I believe was said in the House yesterday, a ban on second jobs will catch those who still work in roles such as doctors and nurses."

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But he reiterated that the Prime Minister believes MPs should put their job in Parliament first.

Mr Johnson believes an "MP's primary job is and must be to serve their constituents and to represent their interests in Parliament", he said.

He continued: "They should be visible in their constituencies and available to help constituents with their constituency matters.

"If they're not doing that, they're not doing their job and will rightly be judged on that by their constituents."