MPs should be banned from giving paid parliamentary advice or consultancy services, a long-awaited report on MP standards has recommended.
It is understood that up to 35 MPs would be affected by a crackdown on second jobs. MPs must now have a written contract for any outside work, which specifies that their duties cannot include lobbying ministers or MPs.
The MPs standards committee is also calling for rules on lobbying to be strengthened so that MPs cannot participate in proceedings that would benefit someone from whom they receive money. Currently, MPs cannot initiate such procedures (eg initiating a debate or presenting a bill) but they can generally participate in them.
Committee chairman Chris Bryant called the new measures “robust” and said they would “support and reinforce” standards in parliament.
The report comes after the case of former MP Owen Paterson, who sparked a row over MPs’ second jobs.
Following Paterson’s backlash, the government initially voted to cap MPs’ second-job earnings, only to abandon the plans arguing the limits would be “imworkable”.
The committee also recommends removing the “ministerial exception”, which means ministers do not have to register hospitality and benefits in the same way as other MPs.
This would mean the Prime Minister’s holiday at Zac Goldsmith’s home in Marbella would have had to be declared in the Members’ Register of Interests. Committee chair Chris Bryant said the recommendations “will bring any wrongdoing to light” and “improve transparency.”
The report also recommends changes to the so-called ‘gross misconduct’ exemption, which Owen Paterson has repeatedly claimed he uses, which allows an MP to approach a responsible minister or official with evidence of “gross misconduct or substantial injustice” that would otherwise violate lobbying rules.
The recommendation would mean that the exemption could only be used once in “exceptional circumstances”.
A new formal appeals process for MPs, as recommended in an independent review earlier this year, is also proposed.
This would mean that MPs could appeal to the independent expert panel if they disagree with a decision taken by the committee or the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.
The committee’s recommendations are expected to be voted on before the summer break and could come into effect by September.
Mr Bryant said he ‘strongly urges’ his colleagues to support the measures: ‘Every generation of MPs holds the members of the House in trust for the next generation. This can either restore the reputation of the House or tarnish it “.
The committee also announced two other inquiries into the “tone of political debate, bullying and misogyny” and how the MPs’ code could be communicated more effectively to MPs.