Mansfield MP with second job says 'not right' to stop MPs having second jobs

Mansfield’s MP – who is also the leader of Nottinghamshire Council – says it ‘wouldn’t be right’ to prevent MPs having second jobs, but work is needed to monitor private-sector influence in Parliament.

By Andrew Topping
Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 8:27 am

Ben Bradley was already an MP when he took on the leader role following local elections in May.

His comments come amid calls for a review into MPs’ side jobs after former Conservative MP Owen Paterson resigned from the Commons.

The Parliamentary Standards Commissioner found the former North Shropshire MP used his role to try to help two companies for which he received paid work.

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Mansfield's MP Ben Bradley outside Parliament.

There is nothing wrong with MPs taking on paid work outside of politics, but it is against lobbying rules for them to act in that company’s interest in Parliament.

The watchdog found Mr Paterson breached these rules by approaching both companies multiple times and failing to declare his personal interests in communications.

Last week, MPs approved an amendment from former Commons leader Andrea Leadsom, which called for an overhaul of the disciplinary process.

It was passed after being backed by many Tory MPs – including Mr Bradley and Ashfield MP Lee Anderson – with Mr Paterson’s suspension effectively blocked.

The decision was met with outrage, with opposition parties launching accusations of sleaze.

The Government eventually U-turned on the decision and Mr Paterson resigned.

Commenting on the case, Mr Bradley says Mr Paterson ‘did wrong and should have been punished for it’, believing his resignation was the right thing.

He said the ex-MP ‘clearly crossed a line’ by giving companies ‘privileged access’ to Parliament, but believes there is still scope for MPs to take on second jobs for public service.

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‘Difficult to define’

Mr Bradley said: “Most MPs have additional jobs in some form, but it’s difficult to define ‘job’.

“Some are on non-executive boards, some are trustees for charities and others are doctors and nurses.

“You’d lose a lot from the variety and experience within the Commons – important when you’re making legislation – if you said MPs can’t do other things.

“Most MPs do other things for public service and all of this adds to our experience, it gives people a unique viewpoint that helps to build good legislation.

“I would argue I can do that for local government. When people are asking about children’s services or funding for councils, I can give a level of insight my colleagues can’t.

“It wouldn’t be right to say MPs can’t have other roles, but there is work to be done looking at private-sector roles and ensuring the line is clear on right and wrong.”

Coun Craig Whitby, Labour’s deputy mayor of Mansfield, said earlier this year: “We think he is spreading himself too thin.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has rejected the idea of a blanket ban on second jobs for MPs, but his spokesman said ‘he thinks an MP’s primary job is to serve their constituents’.

The comments came after Geoffrey Cox MP, a former Tory attorney general, was criticised for being paid £150,000 for legal work in the British Virgin Isles while voting in the Commons by proxy 4,000 miles away.

But the spokesman said it is ‘up to constituents’ to decide whether MPs’ second jobs act on behalf of them.

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