MPs should keep a better (digital) record of the work they do for us in Parliament.

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There has been plenty of bad news about MPs and their second jobs eg Malcolm. Rifkind who famously said he had plenty of time left over to do private consultancy while he was chair of a Select Committee and an MP.  George Osborne MP the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer is a  more recent example of how some MPs abuse their position in Parliament by taking high paid jobs but at the same time keeping their publicly funded offices. Read more about George Osborne and the recent review of rules about MP's second jobs, sparked off by his appointment as Editor of the Evening Standard:

MPs are lobbyists. They should spend most of their time lobbying for us or voting in a considered way in the House of Commons. However, too often MPs conduct meetings with professional lobbyists and businesses that are for personal short or longer term gain- and these meetings nearly always go unrecorded.

The MP's Code of Conduct allows MPs to too easily define information about their Parliamentary work, or lack of it, as private and out of scope for scrutiny or disciplinary measures. I think this government has exacerbated the problem by watering down the Freedom of Information Act and how it can be applied in the House of Commons, in an MP's office. The government view seems to be that FOI is too expensive and it damages the Parliamentary privileges of MPs but is Parliamentary privilege being misshaped to cover up wrong-doing?

John Bercow MP, Leader of the House of Commons, has said holding asecond job is bad behaviour: “people should be in Parliament to represent their constituents and to stand up for principles and policies dear to them. People should not be in Parliament to add to their personal fortune… I have in the past suggested a lot of members of the public would expect members of parliament to do a full-time job” (Skye News, 2015) I agree, do you?

Richard Brooks a former HMRC Tax Inspector and writer for Private Eye tells us that more disclosures are essential for fixing the larger problem of ‘Revolving Doors’, when long-term benefits accrue to MPs, Ministers and Civil Servants because of their co-operation with lobbyists. Second jobs and private consultancy shifts an MP’s priorities away from their official duties towards the interests of big business.

It appears unlikely that the current system of self–regulation and co-regulation in the House of Commons will offer us much better transparency or more accountability around how MPs take decisions. However, in that space there is an opportunity for us to lead by asking MPs to make digital declarations about meetings and importantly how they use our time in their public offices in the House of Commons- to provide a narrative that can fill in the large gaps left by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (for MPs Expenses) and the Parliamentary Registers (for second incomes and gifts). Do you know what your MP does with his time Monday to Friday? Good MPs will want to tell everyone about the good work they do, won't they?

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