Should MPs and MSPs have second jobs?
It’s been a contentious issue for long enough, underlined as recently as two years ago when Labour failed to have the practice banned for members of the Westminster parliament.
The report that Ian Blackford, the SNP’s Westminster leader, will not surrender his outside financial interests – £50,000 a year in addition to his £75,000 MP’s salary – has once more brought the debate to the fore.
There is no suggestion from this columnist that the outside interests of Mr Blackford impair his ability to represent his Highland constituents, but there will be many – particularly those in the public sector whose wage increases are not allowed to rise above 1% – who will baulk at such sums.
The most recent update in the MPs’ register reveals the ex-investment banker was, from December 2015, paid £3,000 a month for eight hours work per quarter as chairman of Golden Charter Trust Ltd.
Then there’s the £1,500 a day for any extra work undertaken and the £1,000 a month for eight hours work per quarter as chairman of Commsworld Plc, based in Edinburgh, where his shares are worth upwards of £70,000.
So, while many people, among them parliamentarians of all parties whose snouts are in a very lucrative trough, would congratulate Mr Blackford for his enterprise, isn’t it time to re-visit the second-jobs controversy, especially when there is a growing number of hard-working voters in 21st century Britain struggling to pay their bills or even eat properly?
We need only examine the increase in the use of food banks to accept that point.
The £75,000 salary MPs enjoy – never mind the generous expenses they receive – is more than enough.
If they don’t accept that, they should not put themselves forward for election.