UK - MP defends work outside parliament

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Mole Valley MP Sir Paul Beresford has defended the number of hours he spends working outside Parliament.

His statements come after figures showed he spent the fifth most time last year on paid work outside his duties as an MP.

According to the figures compiled by Statista, Sir Paul – who continues to work part-time as a dentist – spent 568 hours carrying out paid work away from the House of Commons in 2014.

Sir Paul, who served as Croydon Central MP from 1992 before switching to Mole Valley at the 1997 election, was behind only Geoffrey Cox (1,954 hours), Stephen Dorrell (1,736 hours), William McCrea (1,560 hours) and David Burrowes (797 hours).

The information does not take into account the number of hours an MP has spent carrying out duties in the House, but according to political tracking website TheyWorkForYou.com, Sir Paul has spoken in 20 debates in the past year – below average among MPs.

Responding to this latest data, Sir Paul said it was right for MPs to have second jobs and added the information had not been updated and was well above his actual hours outside Parliament.

He told the Advertiser: "The Committee on Standards in Public Life endorsed this when it said 'The House of Commons would be less effective if all MPs were full-time professional politicians, and MPs should not be prevented from having outside employment'.

"Put simply, the contrast is between a professional cadre of career politicians with no outside interests, as against MPs who are people with jobs and connections in the real world beyond Westminster.

"This is, of course, best seen in the House of Lords where many are placed in the Lords specifically because they are highly experienced business people or indeed world experts in specialist areas and generally have outside employment that may be relevant in debates."

He added: "The figures recently quoted as to the hours I personally spend in outside employment are wrong. This is an error I should have corrected, especially as the actual facts of my outside employment have also changed. For the benefit of the Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser, I sat down with a calculator to assess the balance of this week.

"I estimate I will be spending approximately three hours in outside employment.

"In contrast, I anticipate spending between 56 and 60 hours working on my role as a Member of Parliament this week. As ever, my political role has priority.

"With rare exception, an MP's job is seven days a week, with hours well beyond the standard. These hours do not include travel and cover my activities both in the House of Commons and in the Mole Valley constituency."

The Mole Valley MP, who earns £67,060 basic salary as a Member of Parliament, added that more transparency was needed on those undeclared and unpaid outside interests.

To read Sir Paul's full statement, go to www.dorkingandleatherheadadvertiser.co.uk

SOURCE: Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser, March 9, 2015, http://www.dorkingandleatherheadadvertiser.co.uk/Mole-Valley-MP-Sir-Paul...