Frank Field MP
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Get out of Jail Free Card

1
Jul
I have no objection to MPs declaring their outside earnings; although I don't think the debate will unfold in quite the manner that some of the reformers believe. Let me wind the clock back.

Back in April the Government's side has girded itself up for another attack on the Tories. The campaign went we would stuff them over their part-time earnings.

The resolution was passed by the House so that details of earnings should be declared in detail from today. Linked into the motion was a clause compelling MPs to detail the amount of time they spend on gaining part-time earnings.

The aim, I thought, was to expose Tories who pick up large sums from the City but who do little work for it.

For reasons that I explained on Monday, this move will begin to change the sort of people that come into the Commons. It will make our form of representation less varied and much more uniform and drawn from a dying political class.

Yesterday in the House I returned to this subject and told the Justice Secretary, Jack Straw, who is having a pretty rough time with the Bill, that I would not on principle fill in the time information, nor could I for practical reasons do so.

Here is what I said:



He dealt me a get out of jail free card.

The Bill regulating MPs is slowly disintegrating and will be finished off by the Lords if the country is lucky. The clause setting up the body that will regulate our allowances will of course survive, and so it should.

The Bill is an attack on my conception of public service. When I came into the House I thought myself wonderfully fortunate to be representing a real place - Birkenhead - that wasn't chopped and changed with every boundary report as are most other seats.

I also viewed myself doubly fortunate in that I was going to gain a salary. I don't have private means, and therefore I don't have a private income. I saw my salary as giving me that private income which in the past had allowed people from privileged backgrounds to devote their lives to public service.

Practically all my public activities are about being a more effective MP. I write articles purely to try and win political debates. I produce books because they are on things which I think are important in our public life. Such a concentration might make me boring, and I accept that, but that is the state of play.

I deeply resented the aim of the Parliamentary Standards Bill which suggested somehow that all my working hours should somehow have been bought by the House of Commons and that, far from having the freedom I thought a salary gave me to pursue a public life, I have in fact been sold into some form of slavery where I have to account for every part of the day that couldn't be justified in a technical sense as parliamentary business.

Jack Straw is one of our most able performers. That he is in real trouble with this Bill suggests to me that it was not his Bill in the first place. It seems that because of his parliamentary skills, he has been landed with trying to get something through the House of Commons. Unfortunately there is still much more work to do on this measure.

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Showing comments 1 to 4 of 4

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FF: "The aim, I thought, was to expose Tories who pick up large sums from the City but who do little work for it."Thank you for confirming what I believed to be the unworthy motivation behind this Bill. This is just one example of how this government led by a discredited Prime Minister puts cheap party politics before the welfare of the country. How much longer can you bear to be associated with such unscrupulous behaviour?
Comment by Anonymous on 15 Jul 2011
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"MPs rejected by 250 votes to 247 a clause in the Parliamentary Standards Bill that could allow their debates to be used in court as evidence.Senior Commons official Malcolm Jack had said it could have had a "chilling effect" on MPs' freedom of speech.Justice Secretary Jack Straw said ministers would "respect" the decision. " (BBC).Hummm....
Comment by Anonymous on 15 Jul 2011
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Jack Straw is one of our most able performers.I do not want performers. I want real men (like you) and women who know what hard working law abiding citizens are going through and do not disenfrachise them. I also want them to be honest (like you), to stop decieving us and a pm who answers questions. Oh yes, and to stop taxing little people out of existence.Apologies for going on, but even with you on our side Mr Field, I am old enough to know nothing will change. As for the Bill, slow it down and get it right.
Comment by Anonymous on 15 Jul 2011
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"Jack Straw is one of our most able performers. That he is in real trouble with this Bill suggests to me that it was not his Bill in the first place"Surely Mr Field you must be aware that all these things originate in No 10? Gordon Brown has destroyed the leadership of the Labour Party and his ministers are pygmies who get their orders.How you can stand being associated with them I just don't know.
Comment by Anonymous on 15 Jul 2011


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