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Monday, November 29, 2021

MPs can perfectly handle second jobs

In the wake of the Paterson affair, the know-it-alls are declaring loudly that being a Member of the House of Commons and representing one’s constituents is a full time job. They may well be taking that view merely because it would lead to some problems for the Prime Minister and his colleagues in the Government. Since ministerial jobs are by nature second jobs – with their own responsibilities and salaries – surely no MP would have the time to take one on. What on earth are Boris and his Cabinet to do? 

If they resigned their seats on taking a ministerial office they could not be held to account in Parliament. Perhaps they should accept peerages and the Government could then be held to account in the House of Lords. But the House of Lords is already far too large and few people would welcome the stream of by-elections flowing from every Government reshuffle.

Far better to face up to reality. People such as farmers can employ aides to assist them with both their parliamentary and non-parliamentary work. For many years, until she was so badly injured in the Grand Hotel terrorist bombing, my wife helped me with my constituency work and I also employed a splendid secretary who worked in the parliamentary building.

Within my constituency I stayed in touch with my elected local councillors and we held local advice surgeries together every month. The support I received at successive elections suggested that my constituents found no problem with that.

It was not exceptional. Most MPs from all parties made similar arrangements. As I argued in this blog a fortnight ago, it is far more important that MPs be careful about taking money from trade unions, businesses or individuals to make representations to ministers. Not only that, but lawyers, such as Sir Keir Starmer, learn much about the effectiveness of measures enacted by Parliament while continuing to practice at the bar.


Yet another Brexit dividend 

One does not need to be a politician or a lawyer to have noticed the trend of Dutch multinational companies moving their headquarters to Britain. Shell has followed the earlier example of Unilever and moved from the European Union to London. I wonder how the Remainers account for yet another favourable effect of Brexit.


How to build hospitals

My recent poor health has prevented me from getting to Westminster for some weeks although I have been able to attend some meetings on Zoom, but closer to home I did manage last week to attend the public consultation on the new hospital which is being built to replace the present West Suffolk Hospital.

Not only were there large illustrated panels showing the selected site, but members of the design team were on hand to answer questions. There were forms to be filled in with one’s comments and views. I admired not just the proposed hospital design but its sitting alongside a pond and an arboretum.

Although the funding of the project has been confirmed, the start of construction will not be for a few years yet and I doubt if I shall be around to see it, but I found so much skilled and constructive thinking encouraging.


Insulate Britain should run for Parliament

On Tuesday last week Mr Taylor, a member of the “Insulate Britain” campaign appeared before the High Court with others of his movement accused of being in breach of an injunction designed to prevent their road blockades. Mr Taylor told the High Court that if the authorities clamped down on non-violent protests, violent protesters “would come out of the woodwork”.   

Wisely, the High Court sentenced the protesters to jail for terms of up to six months, and Home Secretary Priti Patel rightly described them as “reckless and selfish criminals who disrupt the freedoms and livelihoods of hard working people”. 

Given the clutch of parliamentary by-elections pending, perhaps these protestors should put up a candidate, rather than break the law, so that their case could then be put to a democratic test.


The allegations of racism in cricket are appalling 

I have been a cricket watcher for more than three quarters of a century, enjoying some of the new formats of the game, such as twenty-over contests as well as the traditional five day matches, so I have been appalled at the allegations of crude racism which have recently hit the front pages. Watching on the television, I had admired what looked like good friendship between team members of different races. The hugs given between teammates of different skin colours or religions seemed to me to be given between friends without thought of their differing racial backgrounds.

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