Westminster Diary - Cameron refuses to act on MPs’ second jobs

At Prime Minister’s Questions last week, Ed Miliband challenged David Cameron six times to take action to end MPs’ second jobs - and six times he refused to say he would.

The House of Commons also voted on Labour’s proposal that MPs should be barred from holding paid directorships or consultancies. But again David Cameron wouldn’t back the change.

Before he became Prime Minister, David Cameron said that “Being a Member of Parliament must be a full-time commitment ... The public deserves nothing less”.

But in Government, he has done nothing to deal with what he once called “the far-too-cosy relationship between politics, government, business and money”. On second jobs the difference is clear: Labour wants to change a broken system, the Tories want to cling to it.

I have no time for those MPs who argue that MPs aren’t paid enough and need to supplement their income. An MP’s salary is well ahead of what most people earn and I certainly regard being your MP as both a privilege and a full time job and people have a right to expect their MP to concentrate on that job alone.

I also have no intention of taking the proposed MP’s salary increase while increases in public sector and other workers’ wages are being suppressed.

Rise in zero-hours contracts shows the recovery isn’t working for working people

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published new figures today showing that there are now 1.8 million zero hours contracts and that the number of people reporting they are on a zero-hours contract for their main job has risen by almost 20 per cent.

This is yet another stark illustration of a recovery which is not working for working people.

The Tories’ plan is failing working families. While they prioritise a few at the top, for others there’s a rising tide of insecurity. Ministers have watered down every person’s rights at work and zero-hours contracts have gone from being a niche concept to becoming the norm in parts of our economy.

Labour’s better plan would ban exploitative zero-hours contracts, prohibit employers from requiring workers to be available on the off chance they are needed, ensure zero-hours contract workers who have shifts cancelled at short notice receive compensation and give employees who consistently work regular hours the right to a fixed-hours contract.

Tackling Tax Avoidance

Last month, Labour held an Opposition Day debate on the issue of Tax Avoidance and unfortunately we were defeated by 73 votes at the end of it.

I think people were disgusted to learn of the goings on at HSBC and want to see some firm action taken. HSBC has a reported total bonus pool of £2.2bn and people will be astounded that bonuses of this size are still being paid out after the revelations of the last few days.

At a time when the living standards of working people are squeezed, and when our public services are under huge pressure, it is even more vital that government acts robustly to tackle tax avoidance and tax evasion. Labour will tackle tax avoidance, close tax loopholes and hold a root and branch review of HMRC immediately after the election. If only individuals and businesses were all to pay the tax that they are due to pay, then there would be massive financial gains that would enable support to be given to those in greatest need.

If we are to live in a fair and just society, then the cash to deliver that can only be found if those who are in a position to do so, pay their due taxes.