Half of Britons disapprove of MPs having second jobs – but it depends on what the job is

While most Britons disapprove of MPs having second jobs, some professions are more acceptable

The author(s)

  • Keiran Pedley Public Affairs
  • Cameron Garrett Public Affairs
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  • The public think MPs shouldn’t have the time for other work and worry about the impact it has on their independence as MPs
  • But there is more sympathy if second jobs relate to working in the NHS or supporting the Armed Forces

As the conversation surrounding MPs’ second jobs continues, new polling by Ipsos MORI shows around half of Britons disapprove of MPs being paid to do second jobs while they are MPs (52%). Only 1 in 5 (19%) approve.

Do you approve of MPs having second jobs? - Ipsos MORI

Britons aged 16-34 are least likely to disapprove of MPs have second jobs, only a third (34%) think it is wrong compared to 54% of 35-54s and two-thirds (67%) of 55-75s oppose it. Four in 10 (42%) of those who voted for the Conservatives in the 2019 General Election are against MPs having second jobs, increasing to 6 in 10 Labour or Lib Dem voters (60% and 59% respectively). 

MPs and second jobs

Almost two-thirds (63%) of Britons agree that ‘MPs are paid to work full time for their constituents and to serve the country and they therefore should not have time to do other jobs as well’. Similarly, 61% agree with the statement that ‘if an MP is being paid to do some other job, it prevents them being independent to make the right decisions as an MP’. 

Meanwhile, just under 4 in 10 (37%) see value in MPs also having jobs elsewhere, agreeing that ‘it is good for MPs to have a wide range of knowledge and experience which contributes to Parliament’s expertise, and banning MPs from having second jobs would make this harder’. 

However, opinion on MPs’ second jobs may be dependent on what the second job is. A sizeable minority agree that if someone is doing ‘a useful job helping others or benefitting the country, they shouldn’t be expected to stop if they are elected as an MP’ (41%). Around half would approve of someone working as a doctor for the NHS (52%) or army reservist (50%) on top of their role as an MP.

Which second jobs would you approve of MPs doing? - Ipsos MORI

However, roles such as paid advisers to big businesses, to banks or financial services or acting as a lawyer for businesses or corporations are disapproved of 64%, 60% and 60% respectively.

Elsewhere in the poll, when it comes to telling the truth in general, the public have little trust in political figures. Only 1 in 5 (20%) say think Boris Johnson (20%) or Government ministers (19%) often tell the truth while even fewer trust MPs in general (17%). Just over a quarter (27%) say their local MP tells the truth regularly while the same proportion trust Sir Keir Starmer. 

Commenting on the findings, Ipsos MORI Research Director Keiran Pedley said:

At face value there is little public sympathy towards the notion of MPs holding additional jobs beyond that of being an MP; with a majority disapproving of the concept. Most Britons think MPs shouldn’t have the time to do other work and they are concerned at the impact doing so might have on their independence as MPs. 
However, opinion does soften depending on what the job is, with more sympathy for MPs working in the NHS or as Army reservists, for example, than for those advising big business or financial institutions. 

Technical note:

  • Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,086 Britons aged 16-75 Interviews were conducted online between the 12th and 15th November, 2021. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population. All polls are subject to a wide range of potential sources of error.

The author(s)

  • Keiran Pedley Public Affairs
  • Cameron Garrett Public Affairs

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