Why MPs should also work for a living
I RESPOND to Mr. Parker s letter (www.huntspost24.co.uk, March 19) where he, among other things, questions my impartiality. In fact, Mr Parker sent me three letters in rapid succession, the first requesting that I support a trades union-drafted Private Me
I RESPOND to Mr. Parker's letter (www.huntspost24.co.uk, March 19) where he, among other things, questions my impartiality.
In fact, Mr Parker sent me three letters in rapid succession, the first requesting that I support a trades union-drafted Private Member's Bill calling for more rights for employees that was so extreme that even the Government refused to support it. I opposed the Bill from the front bench, in my capacity as a shadow Minister. The third e-mail, accusing me, among other things, of "enjoy(ing) the company of fellow public school-educated lawyers who have never experienced the real world of work" was frankly abusive.
I would, however, like to set the record straight on Mr. Parker's published letter.
While it is, of course, my constituents who vote for me as MP, it is the party leadership that decides whether or not I am to be a spokesman. I am actually a party spokesman three times over, being since 2004 shadow Solicitor General (in which capacity I also sit on the shadow Justice team), as well as a shadow DBERR Minister with responsibility for corporate governance. Presumably, the party leadership feels I am pulling my weight.
As to the conflict of interest point: quite the opposite. I believe that it is my practising knowledge and experience (dare I say in the real world of work?) of corporate governance and the sensitive relationship to be maintained between employees and employers that makes me well qualified to speak on these issues from the front bench in the Commons.
As to my impartiality, I am admittedly partisan by reason of having been elected on a party ticket. I do feel that the Labour Party (which now receives about 80 per cent of its funds from the unions) is in hock to the unions, and that the avalanche of new employment laws that we have seen over recent years (18 Acts and over 280 Statutory Instruments) is related to that point. If readers wish to view my website (www.jonathandjanogly.com), they will find a number of speeches I have given on this type of area.
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Mr Parker mentions the SJ Berwin website as though I have something to hide here. I do not. My partnership of SJ Berwin LLP is declared in the published Register of Members' Interests. In the specific debate Mr. Parker refers to, before starting my speech, I drew Members' attention to the fact that the firm in question acts for private equity firms as well as for employees who have had their employment terminated by private equity firms.
Finally, Mr Parker seems to support the principle of 'professional' MPs. This view of an MP is shared by some, but certainly not by me. Quite the opposite. I believe that all MPs should have outside interests (which should of course be declared) in order firstly that they keep in touch with the world of work, and secondly, to keep up their skills.
Many reasons have been given as to why there has arisen a so-called "political class", detached from the general population. My own theory is that, as MPs have become more full-time, the more detached they have become from the world outside Westminster. Mr. Parker clearly does not agree with this principle but it is one that I have always held sincerely and, indeed publicly expressed.
Member of Parliament for the Huntingdon constituency
Shadow Minister Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform
Shadow Solicitor General