MPs have backed a measure that could curb their ability to take on other jobs, as Boris Johnson tried to neutralize criticism that he had been soft on out-of-back interests.
Keir Starmer had intended to use the opposition-led debate in parliament to put forward a proposal to ban MPs from working as a parliamentary strategist, adviser or consultant.
But Johnson wanted to look like he was going beyond the Labor leader. He proposed an amendment that MPs who prioritize other paid roles over serving their constituents should also be investigated and “appropriately punished.”
The Labor Party’s original motion was rejected by 231 votes to 282, but it and other opposition parties did not oppose a change of government, meaning it was passed by 297 votes to 0.
This means that the Standards Committee on the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament must take note of the result and publish recommendations for updating the code by next February.
The vote came after weeks of scrutiny of outside financial interests by MPs, including Owen Paterson’s “blatant” breach of lobbying rules and the revelation that Geoffrey Cox had raised nearly £ 6 million from legal work, seemed to have used his Commons office to attend a virtual consultation. , and it was voted on by a representative of the British Virgin Islands.
Despite the outcome of Wednesday night, many MPs – including some Conservatives – found it pointless as the code is already being considered by the Standards Committee.
Committee chairman Chris Bryant said people were trying to get it to do something it was already in the process of, and acted like “endless chickens.” He had also previously committed to completing the assessment by the end of November.
It was also frustrating that the government’s amendment did not say anything about how to determine if an MP spends too much time on another job.
The minister told the Guardian that it was “against the natural right” to dictate how MPs could use their leisure time, and said Johnson’s amendment was a “completely irrelevant” plan that could be “completely irrelevant” because the interpretation could end so loosely that hardly anyone would be affected.
The former minister revealed that they had put other roles on the “ice” pending clarity, and angered government minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who suggested in three separate interviews on Wednesday that the number of hours worked per week in other jobs should be limited to 10, then 15, then 20.
During the debate, the Labor Party accused ministers of “attacking” Parliament and democracy by “tearing up a 30-year consensus on how we enforce standards in this place.”
Thangam Debbonaire, Commons shadow leader, accused Johnson of leaving a “destructive change” and said it would only “water down” genuine attempts to stifle other jobs in MPs. “It’s even more warm words, but not deeds,” he added.
In his opposition government, however, Jacob Rees-Mogg said that “the historical strength of our system is that MPs should have a broader focus than the Westminster bubble.”
He insisted that the work of an MP serving their constituents should take “supremacy,” but believed that they should “maintain contact with the rest of the world so that we could take advantage of the insight and expertise provided by this experience.”
Some conservatives expressed concern. Nigel Mills said change has been needed “for a long time”, but the government should be “careful that we get this right”. He warned that people would expect “due consideration” and that “fair, consistent and enforceable” rules were introduced that “don’t just leave crazy loopholes”.
Mark Fletcher, a Tory MP who sits on the standards committee, said people should “work [it], instead of guiding it ”. He added that it is “far from clear” how to decide whether outside work is “within reasonable limits”.
And Charles Walker, a Tory MP, was accused of “being a breakup and full of villains and villains.” He said, “We’ve all suffered from this. I’m not voting for any performance, the plague is deserved for all our houses.”