Limit what MP can earn from second job, sleazy watchdog urges

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sleaze watchdog suggested there should be a limit to how much an MP can earn from a second job and how many hours they can work outside parliament before questions are asked.

Lord Evans of Weardale, chairman of the Standards in Public Life Committee, said he would not advocate a hard limit of “10 hours good, 10.5 hours bad”.

But he told the House of Commons Standards Committee on Tuesday that a ballpark figure could tell MPs that “at least you know that if you go over 10 you might be questioned quite harshly – or 20, or 40 , or whatever – if that is reasonable in your situation”.

It comes with MPs embroiled in a sordid scandal over money earned outside of being a politician.

A full-time paid civil servant can reasonably be expected to be his main occupation on behalf of the people who elected him

Lord Evans said there was a fine line because there were good reasons for MPs to have outside roles.

But he added: “Some guidance as to what is reasonable…or how reasonable should be interpreted or (is) capable of being interpreted is helpful.

“If your job takes you away from your role, not during recess but at other times, for weeks at a time, then I think that certainly raises questions about whether you are putting the interests of your constituents first. first or if you put your personal financial interests first.

He said his committee was not saying that MPs should not be able to earn money outside the Commons, but he added: ‘There is a reasonable expectation of a civil servant who receives a full-time salary, that this should be their main activity on behalf of the people who elected them”.

Lord Evans (David Mirzoeff/AP) / PA wire

Lord Evans said it would be ‘very convenient to say either you’re not going to have an outside job or to say you can do 10 hours and you can earn £20,000’ but that would be too difficult .

Instead, he said there might be “ways of trying to define where the boundary of reasonableness lies”, and added: “We suggest that it is possible to have a refutable hypothesis according to which, beyond a certain amount of money or beyond a certain number of hours, it is likely to be considered unreasonable, could be useful, not only to the judges, but also to the deputies themselves same.

“For that to give a signal to say, look, if you’re making £15,000 a year, that’s very unlikely to be deemed unreasonable.

“If you’re making a million pounds a year, that seems unreasonable on the face of it, and you’ll need to have (a) extremely strong argument as to why in your particular situation it’s not unreasonable to be making a million pounds a year. year thanks to outside interests, because most people would consider that to be unreasonable.

“So that’s a pretty clear indication of where the boundary might be, but accepting that there might be particular cases that you then have to defend.”

Lord Evans warned there would be a “price to pay” politically if high standards in public life were not maintained.

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