Today at Deputy Prime Ministers Questions I challenged Lib Dem Leader Nick Clegg to join Labour in working to clamp down on MPs having second jobs.
Ms Harriet Harman (Camberwell and Peckham) (Lab): Does the Deputy Prime Minister agree that people do not like the fact that MPs can earn tens of thousands of pounds, sometimes even hundreds of thousands of pounds, from second jobs? Will he work with us to clamp down on MPs having second jobs?
The Deputy Prime Minister: I am not sure if I agree with the right hon. and learned Lady that we should stop—or clamp down on, as she puts it—MPs having additional employment. What is important is for that to be done in the most transparent and accountable way possible. People expect their MPs to work for their constituents: that is what we are here for, and that should remain the principal purpose of all MPs elected to this place.
Ms Harman: It is important to have transparency, and we have transparency, but we need to do more. It is the amount of money that people see MPs earning that they do not agree with. The Deputy Prime Minister mentioned that he will introduce a Bill. Will it make provision for companies to consult shareholders before they are allowed to make donations to political parties?
The Deputy Prime Minister: Dare I say it, it is interesting that the right hon. and learned Lady is raising detailed points about reforming party funding now, when her party singularly failed to do so in the cross-party talks that, unfortunately, have just come to an end. We see the consequences in the headlines: the Labour party has failed and failed and failed to address the fact that it is at the beck and call of major vested interests in British society. That is not healthy for the Labour party. That is not healthy for trade unions. That is not healthy for democracy.