Labour vows to clamp down on MSPs’ second jobs

Scottish Labour Leader Kezia Dugdale visits Alba Trees in East Lothian with candidate Martin Whitfield. Picture: Greg Macvean
Scottish Labour Leader Kezia Dugdale visits Alba Trees in East Lothian with candidate Martin Whitfield. Picture: Greg Macvean
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MSPs are facing a crackdown on second jobs under radical plans being set out by Labour to restore “public trust” in the political system.

New laws would be introduced which would place restrictions on the amount of time MSPs can spend on work outwith their core duties as parliamentarians – and how much they can earn.

Some MSPs are earning up to £130,000 from outside interests on top of their £60,000 salaries. They are able to do this as long as they declare it in the Holyrood “register of interests”.

The move will be at the heart of Labour’s Scottish election manifesto which is being launched by party leader Kezia Dugdale tomorrow.

The crackdown on second jobs is being brought forward by the Lothians MSP Neil Findlay who says it will ensure in future politicians are “entirely focused” on representing the people who elect them.

Findlay said yesterday: “The public expects elected politicians to spend their time fighting for a better society, not using their role to benefit themselves.

“At a time when ordinary people have had to endure years of a pay freeze they will be particularly shocked at the sums – sometimes double an MSP’s salary – earned by some. Naturally this will raise questions of where priorities truly lie.

“These changes, to restrict the time spent and money earned on second jobs, will help restore public trust in politicians and ensure they are focused on the day job.”

Tory MSP Alexander Burnett is among the highest earners at Holyrood, taking home £120,000 to £130,000 from farming and land ownership. His party colleagues Edward Mountain and Peter Chapman also make up to £55,000 and £50,000 respectively from farming and land ownership, while another Conservative MSP Adam Tomkins make £30,000 to £40,000 from academia and publishing.

Douglas Ross makes up to £60,000 from his work as a councillor and assistant football referee. Nationalist Joan McAlpine takes home about £20,000 from penning a weekly newspaper column, while former health secretary Alex Neil gets about £10,000 to £15,000 annually from his work as a member of the advisory panel for Ethx energy. Their party colleague Gil Paterson gets about £15,000 to £20,000 from his work with Gils Motor Factors.

Labour leader Dugdale also makes about £7,000 to £8,000 from a weekly newspaper column but donates the cash to charity.

The bill being proposed by Findlay will not seek to ban outside interests outright, but limit the time MSPs can spend on them and how much they make. The proposal will consult on issues such as professional registration including nursing and dual mandates and other relevant issues.

But a spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives said: “This a typical stunt from Labour, who’d rather fill Holyrood’s benches with career politicians than MSPs with actual ability and outside experience. It’s no surprise to see Kezia Dugdale – someone who’s never had a job outside parliament – back this sanctimonious rubbish.

“It will be very interesting to see what Labour MSPs Daniel Johnson, Elaine Smith, Anas Sarwar and Pauline McNeill make of this – they all hold outside interests.”