What is work for an MP, an executive or a professional?

How many hours does an MP work?  This is one of the questions I find it very difficult to answer. There is of course no single answer, as there are 650 ways of being an MP. Some work longer hours than others. Some achieve more in an hour than others do. Many people in managerial and professional activities will find it equally difficult to define when they are working and when they are not.

The problem of working out how many hours a year anyone  works as an MP  comes mainly from  how you define work. Like many managerial and professional jobs, an MP can be working in many different places and at  many different times of the day. You are not just working in the office.

The answer about “office hours” is easier to answer. When Parliament is in  session  an attentive MP is at Westminster, in the chamber, in his or her office, in a committee , or meeting Ministers and colleagues.  On Mondays we are there from 2.30 pm  to 10.20 pm. On  Tuesdays through to Thursday we are there from around 9am to 6 or 7 pm. In practice I start the day around 6 am to get the emails and web comments dealt with before the Parliamentary day begins, and to fit in any breakfast briefings and meetings.

Fridays and non sitting days  gives the MP much more flexibility about when and where to work.

The questions raised about working hours include :

If I listen or watch the late news and reports on Parliament is that leisure or working?

 If I watch a tv documentary is that work?

If I travel to a different city in the UK, only to have my ear bent by people there when I am just visiting, is that work?

If I read newspapers and books which cover governmental and public policy topics, is that work?

If I am stopped in the street when shopping, to be told of a problem, is that work?

If when shopping or out for a walk I notice something that needs fixing or asking about, how much of that time is work?

If I attend a play or concert in an official capacity in my constituency, is that work?

If I attend a local play or concert in a private capacity, is that not work?

If I appear on Any Questions or Question Time, is that work part of being an MP?

If I write a newspaper article or web piece about public policy, is that part of my job as an MP?

When I go out campaigning for local elections, or in  by elections elsewhere, that is regarded as politics, not as part of the MP’s paid for role.

An MP has to accept week-end working as necessary. It is no good on Remembrance Sunday on Carnival Sunday  saying you do not work week-ends.

An MP is always on call. If a major disaster hits your constituency people rightly expect you to turn up and help.

Many people in managerial or professional roles have similar definitional issues before answering how many hours do they work.  A true professional is always alert to views, news and opportunities that relate to his or her main profession. Just as a well known professional sportsman or woman always has to watch their diet, stay in training and be aware of the public reaction when they are out and about, so an MP has to seek to stay in tune and up to date to do the job properly.

Senior executives spend a lot of time visiting business locations, encouraging or training staff, attending dinners or other corporate hospitality to stay in touch with customers and employees, appearing at industry events. Some of these things are pleasurable as well as having a business purpose.  Senior executives  need to respond to troubles or disasters of their business or staff members whatever the date or time.

 

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63 Comments

  1. Adam5x5
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    If we consider being an MP to be a profession (not entirely sure it qualifies, but that’s a different debate), then any of the above listed things are just part of the job. Just like a professional, you are expected to do the job regardless of whether it takes more than “office hours” or “9-5″.

    I am always on call if the people at my workplace need to ask me a question about a project or something I have done, and I am expected to answer my phone. It isn’t anything special, a lot of professions just expect this as a matter of course.

    It’s not like MPs aren’t well paid either…

  2. lifelogic
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    I think nearly all the above if work for you as an MP. It rather makes a nonsense of the EU working hours limits. When are we getting this (into the long grass) speech by Cameron on the EU? How much is Cameron’s the new gender neutral insurance nonsense wasting the industry and why is he forcing it on them will he mention it in the speech and say what he has against a Greater Switzerland? Or will it all be vacuous tosh.
    The problem with MPs is that so often they are acting in the interest of their paid “consultancies” rather than in the interest of the public. Hence the endless stream of absurd laws to profit certain sectors with grants or absurd regulations. The green racket in particular.

    With the mobile phone and internet I find I work nearly all the time I am awake, to some degree. Even if I go to watch a film with my children I often find my mind drifting off on to new business ideas or ways to legally reduce my tax liabilities so as to put the money to far better use than the state would.

    My best business ideas have, on two occasions, come to me while on holiday. Whenever I am shopping I am thinking about how and where this or that is made. Why this or that is priced/displayed as it is. Why for example a tooth brush that must cost less than 2p to make costs perhaps £1.99 to buy in a UK supermarket. Or why batteries often cost nearly as much as a new radio that comes with batteries or why perfumes, that smell very similar can cost from almost nothing up to hundred of pounds. Or the same with many wines that the buyers can often not even distinguish blind.

    I am usually reading things for my entertainment that are in fact relevant to the businesses I run too.

    • lifelogic
      Posted January 4, 2013 at 7:50 am | Permalink

      I see Nick Boles MP – Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government – has said “local people have genuine concerns” and “wind farms are not appropriate in all settings”.

      Good, except they are not appropriate at all, as they make no economic or environmental sense. If they did make any sense it might be worth over riding the locals on occasions but they clearly do not. Just kill are the subsidies now and abandon the silly state subsidised “renewables” agenda.

    • uanime5
      Posted January 4, 2013 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

      Why for example a tooth brush that must cost less than 2p to make costs perhaps £1.99 to buy in a UK supermarket.

      I’d say this is due to the cost of shipping it to the UK, middlemen, import taxes, overheads, and profits.

      why batteries often cost nearly as much as a new radio that comes with batteries
      Perhaps the radio is very cheap or the isn’t a large market for this type of battery.

      why perfumes, that smell very similar can cost from almost nothing up to hundred of pounds.
      Mostly due to them being brand name products and consumers who believe that expensive brand names = good quality.

      Or the same with many wines that the buyers can often not even distinguish blind.
      Same reason as perfumes, except with fewer brand names and a lot more variety to choose from.

      • Edward
        Posted January 4, 2013 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

        You miss the point, unaimne5,
        Lifelogic was trying to work out, as all us who run businesses do, when out and about, the costs versus the selling price of a particular product or service and whether there could be a better way to do it, cheapen the cost , undercut the existing market, gain sales, make a profit, expand your company and employ people.
        Its an instinct all entrepreneurs have and they do it all the time.

        Not something I would think you have had much practical experience of.

        • Bazman
          Posted January 5, 2013 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

          The 200 quid washing machine is an interesting example of how it is possible to sell and make money in a cut throat market by selling cheap to people who want this or do not know any better. Not much of the £200 selling price is even washing machine. Another is the tyre market a strange and opaque business of varying costs and quality. Pizza can be bought anywhere and easy to make, but huge profits to be made for the right company or person.

      • lifelogic
        Posted January 4, 2013 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

        Indeed and that branding, and perceived value to the consumer, is so often where the money lies.

      • zorro
        Posted January 4, 2013 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

        ‘I’d say this is due to the cost of shipping it to the UK, middlemen, import taxes, overheads, and profits.’…..I assume that you’re joking that it would be valid to quote these reasons for a 100 times mark up on manufacture cost (assuming that they do cost 2p to make)…..mind you there’s probably some ridiculous EU legislation affecting the price….

        zorro

        • uanime5
          Posted January 5, 2013 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

          You’d be surprised how much it costs to transport things (especially if they being brought in from abroad).

          Also it’s not just the shop selling the product that’s marking up the price but the costs and profits of everyone involved including the manufacturer and the people who transport these products (manufacturer to airport, airport to warehouse, warehouse to shop).

          The basic cost of an item can be demonstrated by how it gets from the factory to the purchaser (number are not accurate).

          1) Each toothbrush costs 2p to make and is sold for 5p (so the manufacturer can pay wages, overheads, and make a profit)

          2) Each toothbrush costs 50p to be brought into the UK (fuel costs, import fees, employee salaries, other overheads, profit).

          3) Each toothbrush costs 20p to be transported to the warehouse and 30p to be transported around the UK (fuel costs, employee salaries, other overheads, profit).

          4) Each toothbrush has 40p add to the cost to cover the cost of selling it in a shop UK (employee salaries and overheads).

          So in this example the 2p toothbrush effectively costs the shop £1.45 and if sold for £1.99 means the shop makes 54p profit per toothbrush (27% profit margin). It would be interesting to have some accurate numbers on the profit margins of toothbrushes.

          • Edward
            Posted January 6, 2013 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

            I can tell you Uni after many years making things and transporting them all over the world that your total of £1 in logistics cost per toothbrush is way too high
            So wrong its hilarious

  3. Kevin R. Lohse
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    Like most senior executives, an MP is available 24/7 and puts in a 80+ hour week. In your list. you have things that are expected of you as an MP and things that you chose to do. I’d say that anything which is wholly or mainly your choice is not paid work, and that anything which is wholly or mainly part of your duties as an MP is paid work. Being part of a voluntary organisation, e.g. a school governor, is not paid work. In your case, you also have outside interests for which you are paid, and which no doubt help you to maintain your sanity. Most people, probably including an overwhelming number of your constituents, would consider your duties as an MP to take precedence.

    Reply: Indeed, I also regard my duties as an MP as taking precedence.

    • Timaction
      Posted January 4, 2013 at 11:39 am | Permalink

      It is said that ” Work expands to fill the time allotted”. Just how much of what an MP actually does has real influence on the legislative powers of Government under the “whipping system and its executive? Whilst good intentioned how much real power does lobbying or writing letters or meetings a particular group or industry have any impact?
      A few years ago I pointed out to my MP that OFWAT and the water industry had allowed real above RPI rises in water charges for over 20 years and was unsustainable and unaffordable. He acted and sent a few letters. Result? Zilch. CPI is only the Governments preferred measure when its raising pensions, allowances etc. Not revenue or tax raisers!
      Westminster and our democratic system has had its day. It’s undemocratic, unreformed and unaccountable. The executive does as it pleases, ignores and defies the will of the people. It really is time for huge reform in Westminster so that it represents the people not the will of a few elected dictators. The age of the internet no longer allows the political leaders to lie with immunity. Blair/Brown and Cameron have left the political system in disarray and held in total contempt by the electorate. We despise them and don’t believe a word they say. Just look at the comments attributed by u-turn Dave on the EU. Never vote to leave but ios to try and negotiate a better deal, then maybe we could leave. Specious policy by shambles and dither. He simply cannot defend the foreign aid budget but marches on borrowing to spend and waste our stolen taxes.
      So when will we get our reform of the present failed system?

      Reply An MP can never be sure which piece of lobbying will work, but soem of it will. In this Parliament there have been numerous changes to announced policy as a result of Parliamentary debates, votes and other expressions of MP opinion.

      • Timaction
        Posted January 4, 2013 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

        Mr Redwood, outside of the chamber you only have lobbying powers. Whilst I don’t dispute you write, work hard, different bodies don’t have to follow by law. Inside the lobby most important issues are decided by the “gang of four”, Cameron, Osborne, Clegg, Alexander and THEY decide by elective dictatorship the Government direction and whip MP’s obedience. My point is that this is not true democracy. Whilst MP’s can occasionally rebel, the Government of the day usually wins regardless of the will of the rebels and invariably the electorate. Therefore we need radical reform. Politicians say every other body under the sun needs reform but never………….themselves. Westminster and the Parliamentary system is broken and screaming out for reform with outside independent scrutiny on its activities and its members. Not just listen to us every 5 years! We out here know the system is broken and the Government is still not listening to the people on the EU, Immigration, foreign aid, provision of extensive public services to foreign people who have never contributed or the feckless etc. As an example when will the mainstream parties realise that fairness is not taking the homes of those who have worked all there lives to pay for their care in old age who have a bed next to someone who has never worked or contributed? Politicians are way out of touch and slow to react. Still we have Gay marriage, Lords reform, fox hunting on their agenda! Deep sighs.

        Reply: The system is far from perfect but in this Parliament where no-one has a reliable majority MPs can influence the 4 leaders – as we showed by ending Lords reform, pressurising to veto the Fiscal treaty, reversing the pasty and caravan taxes, reversing the forests policy and several others.

  4. Posted January 4, 2013 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    I think John your headline to this piece should also include the option “servant”.
    You were after all elected to represent the views of your constituency, something it would appear most MPs conveniently forget once they have got their first past the post placing.

    • lifelogic
      Posted January 4, 2013 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

      Indeed most do – but that is the logic of their position alas. It makes more sense for them to respond to party whips and paid “consultancies” once elected – rather than the electorate in general.

      It is not democracy in any real sense.

  5. alan jutson
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    I agree work is difficult to quantify John.

    One you missed out on that all self employed, business owners and workers will be familiar with is:

    Thinking, planning or worrying about work projects or finances, even when perhaps your mind should be elsewhere, like with family.

    The end result, is down to results.
    Do your constituants feel you are giving value for money, if they do, fine, if not I guess you would be voted out.

    Certainly you seem have an excellent track record of responding to any local request for help and information almost by return, so clearly you are efficient.

    Likewise you are seen in and around the constituancy, and are seen and heard on TV, Radio and in the media.
    In addition you write this very informative blog each day so you mind is not closed to comment, no matter if it is perceived as good or bad.

    I have written to you a couple of times over the years, and others who I know, who have had need to contact you, have had a similar rapid response and action.

    Unfortunately for Mp’s, the vast majority of the population seem to vote along Party lines (no matter who the representitive is, or what their ability). when the vote should perhaps really be also about the competence of the person standing.

    In years past, many a good Mp has been voted out, and many an unfit representitive has been voted in, thus I guess it will continue.

    • P O Taxpayer
      Posted January 4, 2013 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      As a business owner I can rarely escape from ‘work’ due to the fact I’ve invested a lot of time and money in my business and when anything goes wrong it will cost me

      In the past when I was an employee of several large multinational companies I could work the hours required to do the job without any financial consequences or responsibilities other than ensuring targets were met within the approved budget. In those days the worst that could have happened was that I could be fired. I wouldn’t lose any investment but on the contrary I would have been compensated for loss of office under the terms of my contract. Not so as the owner of a business.

      Owning and running a business in which one has invested a great deal of personal cash does bring focus to achieving success but not just for me the owner but in the process also protecting my employees. If the business is not successful then it’s my money being lost as I’m the main shareholder. This stark financial reality of losing money invested or ones house if things go seriously wrong does always remain to keep ‘work’ on the mind night and day.

      I remember one of my past lecturers at my engineering college telling us that – Work = Force x Distance – and he used the example of a person who spent all day trying to move 10 tons of steel by hand and ended up physically exhausted having not moved the steel at all and consequently would not have done any ‘work’ that day!

      There are I’m sure many people who ‘work’ very hard but actually achieve nothing!

      • oldtimer
        Posted January 4, 2013 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

        unfortunately for the UK there are not nearly enough people who think like you. The tax system is hardly an incentive for there to be more like you.

  6. Old Albion
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    I’d be quite interested to see what hours MP’s for Scottish/Welsh and N.Irish constituencies put in, since most of their work has been devolved. They must be be bored rigid. How many hours can they can spend interfering in English issues?

  7. Lord Blagger
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    Oh, perhaps we could start an Adopt an MP service. They are so poor and downtrodden and need your help. Overwork so much, that like Gordon Brown, they are so stressed they aren’t able to attend Westminster.

    Or you could adopt a dog. Here’s one.

    http://www.animalrescueandcare.org.uk/animals.asp?i=2652

  8. oldtimer
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    I would expect MPs, like people running businesses or parts of businesses of any size, to be curious about developments in the world around them that will matter to them. The country, like businesses, needs to adapt and change to thrive and prosper – otherwise it will stagnate and decline. Unfortunately stagnate and decline seems to be the order of the day.

    • P O Pensioner
      Posted January 5, 2013 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      I agree!

  9. Iain Gill
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    I think this is a bit class “ist”.
    It kind of assumes that only MPs, executives, or professionals can have the kind of role where they can be called upon 24/7.
    I have been on 24/7 duty a few times in my life, early on as a young programmer when my software controlled several large factories I was carrying a radiopager (those were the days) and would end up on site in the middle of the night trying to help get production going when things went belly up. Mostly hardware or comms failures and little to do with the software. Having a lot of folk losing their bonus because production has stopped looking to you to solve things quickly is an interesting learning experience for a youngster.
    In another project I have been the most senior person from a large multi-national in the whole of a small country (New Zealand). This exposed me to a wide variety of issues that folk in my sphere rarely get involved with from government political stuff and so on. When everyone more senior is at least a six hour flight away it does put you in a pivotal position, and folk look to you to solve stuff that are way outside any training you may have had. Interestingly from time to time the person holding this most senior mantle in that country was am hourly paid tradesman most definitely non “professional” and he did an outstanding job.
    And so on.
    I have seen a policeman friend intervene in serious fights when off duty, hopelessly outnumbered, far away from timely backup, taking a calculated risk but a risk far bigger than most of us would ever take. Another job where you are always on duty and the public who recognise him will regularly take him to task on issues even when he is on a badly needed rest day. Don’t think his salary really reflects the nature of this 24/7 stuff any more than yours does.
    Re “Senior executives spend a lot of time visiting business locations” yep so do folk in a wide variety of other roles… “encouraging or training staff”… same “attending dinners or other corporate hospitality” same
    Re “to stay in touch with customers and employees” I am not sure I really buy into this senior exec view of the world. Sure the good ones do that. Many of the others put most of their effort into internal politics and so on. The customer senior staff survey for one of the leading IT companies definitely complained about the lack of understanding from the “senior executives” and revealed that the business was only coming in because of the outstanding understanding from folk much lower down the food chain. In reality it’s often like this.
    But interesting points for discussion…

    Reply: Not intended to be classist – you make good points that there are many people in lower paid roles who are also on duty when off duty. I am trying to explore the issue of “what is work”, as so much of the media and political discussion is very narrow and does not understand the different types of work, and the way our working lives and so called private lives merge.

    • JimF
      Posted January 4, 2013 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

      It’s interesting to compare this response with lifelogic above. It shows that you’ve worked in large businesses, where there’s a feeling of the small guy carrying the can, and “billy big shoes” doing all the “24/7″ executive stuff, and you being placed in brown-stuff with no options. A bit like your police friend.

      Compare this to lifelogic, closer to my own experience, working in I imagine a small self-owned outfit, where technically you could say life is work and work is life. Sure there are holidays and breaks, but trying to split parts of life into the HMRC definition of “wholly and exclusively for business use” and “other” is sometimes very difficult.
      Do I take business decisions partly based on what I read here? Of course, but I wouldn’t say that it’s work time.
      Do I talk soccer with suppliers at work? Yes, but I wouldn’t claim that as leisure time, yet my increased soccer knowledge isn’t, I have to admit, wholly used for work purposes.

      Getting back to Mr Redwood, i’d say MP s experience is an odd mix of being self-employed without the worry of suppliers not delivering (save once every 5 years) and customers not paying (ever). This, coupled with a guaranteed pension arrangement not available to the self-employed, and a to-dream-of networking system, the gold-plated version being exemplified by the families Blair, Kinnock et al. We will never bring MPs down to earth on the last point, but steps could be taken to make work a little more real-world on the previous points, viz money-purchase pensions (max contribution £40K p.a.), more regular audits by customers (by direct democracy/referenda) and performance reviews on the government (Ministerial salaries only by results).

      Having said all that, I think Mr Redwood shouldn’t feel guilty about his life-work balance – in another life I’m sure he is closer to the lifelogic/self-employed model, thinking outside the box and finding solutions to work problems as a matter of course, than the Ian Gill IT-for large -corporation or PC-plod-off-duty model, where really these people are being placed in a situation where they have to react for the big boss, albeit outside the 9-5.

      That isn’t being classist, it’s just the type of person we are.

      • zorro
        Posted January 4, 2013 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

        Some good observations here, the type of work described here (sometimes of a continuous lowish, although often high at times, level of intensity but on call and on the mind) probably involves a few of the posters on this blog. However, I have to admit that it is a different intensity to the type of physical work that some people engage in which can be quite exhausting, and requires some proper rest and relaxation. I have been keen in recent years to limit my ‘on call’ mentality even though in practice I still can be in that zone. I find though that I can manage it because a lot of my work involves mental work (and fortunately merges with my general interest) as opposed to physical work. A lot of people undergo physical and often uninteresting work because they have to. If you can earn your living through work which often takes over your life (but is still interesting) you are fortunate…….because there is nothing worse than being stuck in a job which you hate……

        zorro

        • Iain Gill
          Posted January 5, 2013 at 10:31 am | Permalink

          good point. folk engaged in hard physical work need to be considered differently. same with this extending retirement age stuff, the reality is that if you have been working long days, 6 or 7 day weeks, in a hard physical job all your life you really do need to retire at 65 at the latest. your body just cannot take much more.

          • JimF
            Posted January 5, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

            True indeeed, especially when 70 yr olds are paying taxes for teens’ dole

      • Iain Gill
        Posted January 4, 2013 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

        I agree pretty much.

        Of course I have also operated freelance so also understand many of the imperatives of being a mini business.

        I have lots of sympathy and respect with small owner run businesses, indeed with large companies run by the folk who built them from nothing.

        I think in the bigger corporates the quality of senior execs is very variable, and many such companies are kept healthy by the quality of lower layers countermanding the nonsense from on high. Pretty much like UK PLC if they relied on the official leadership they would sink quickly.

        But I agree with the general thrust of Johns discussion that what is work and what is not can get pretty complex.

      • Bazman
        Posted January 5, 2013 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

        Whatever work lifelogic does its not work as we know it Jim.

  10. Credible
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    John,

    You forgot to mention many many hours sitting on company boards for considerable sums of money. Is that MPs work ?

    Reply: No. Some MPs are also non exec directors of companies, but that is nothing to do with their MP job.

    • forthurst
      Posted January 4, 2013 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

      “Some MPs are also non exec directors of companies, but that is nothing to do with their MP job.”

      …or their role as Chairman of a Select Committee responsible for the oversight of the destruction of our countryside with windmills?

    • lifelogic
      Posted January 4, 2013 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

      Alas many are clearly on these boards not for their skills or ability but because of their position as an MP, contacts and the influence they can have on legislation and government decisions that may profit the companies.

      Hence we have so many bad laws that are not in the interest of the public. Such as all the renewable tosh.

    • Credible
      Posted January 4, 2013 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

      But John, for some MPs it takes up a considerable amount of their time – which can be seen in the Register of Members’ Interests. In fact for some MPs it amounts to more than 60 days a year (assuming 8 hours per day) – 1/6th of the year assuming no holidays.
      If I were to take that time out of my job I’d expect to be sacked. What would happen if a cleaner, waiter, train driver, policeman, teacher, engineer, programmer or shop assistant did the same? The public pay for their MPs to work as MPs for them and not to devote large chunks of time to earning very large sums of money for themselves as non-exec directors.

      Reply: If the MP is doing more than your standard week of 40 hours as an MP why can’t he or she spend some of the other hours on paid work if they wish? I have nothing against people in any walk of life doing a second job if they wish.

      • Credible
        Posted January 5, 2013 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

        We’ll have to differ on this. Some people have to do extra work to earn enough money to live. MPs are not in that position. I don’t believe a profesional job does not suffer if additional jobs are taken and MPs are being paid from our taxes.

  11. Alan Wheatley
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    I think that is a very fair and representative presentation.

    I would add that wage earners who clock in an out can also be “working” outside their recorded hours. For instance, suppose the company is have difficulties machining a part for a customer; the machinist may suggest a different technique that came to him in the bath the previous evening that makes the job go better. And you can have the reverse situation where the boss takes the employees out for a Christmas lunch in paid time.

    There can also be salaried staff who are “at work” but not “working”.

    So it can be a rich picture at all levels, but the basic point being made is sound.

  12. Robert K
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    There can be no doubt about JR’s workload. Writing and maintaining this blog alone would consume the full-time efforts of plenty of journalists. The same cannot be said of my own (Conservative) MP, whose main strategy seems to be toeing the party line.
    However, I remain concerned about the notion of professional policiticians rather than citizen legislators. Hundreds of full-time MPs means lots of people buzzing around trying to get the state to do things. I would prefer to have a much smaller state with a smaller and leaner parliament whose members did not treat it as a full-time job.

  13. Alan Wheatley
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Many issues arising from “what is work” and its remuneration would be resolved in the natural course of events in a competitive free-market of goods, services and labour.

    It is next to impossible to put a true value on anything; indeed, is there really something that can be defined as the “true” value. On the other hand price, both asked and paid, is something quite different.

    Auction prices are interesting as what was bid can seem excessive or a steal, but who is to say the bidder was wrong, especially if at the next sale the price has moved further in what was perceived to be the wrong direction.

    As to what should be paid for the job being done, that too raises a question as to what is meant by “should”. The trend rate for the job should be determined by the value of the employee and the supply of and demand for people of that value.

  14. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Work for an MP is any poilitical vote, or expresssion of political opinion, or political research, or attendance at an event in his/her constituency.

    There has to some limit on the type of event included (Dominic Strauss-Kahn, please note).

    • lifelogic
      Posted January 4, 2013 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

      Interestingly someone (Australia I think) managed to sue an employer for injuries while having a fling in a hotel when a lamp above the bed broke over them. I would have thought the hotel would sue them for the lamp but apparently not. Not the hotel that was sued but the employer, as they were clearly working very hard, away on company business.

      Doubtless our legal system is equally mad – after all the Lawyers need all those claimants to keep the fee income rolling in. I assume the employer with have to check all the hotel lamps next time when booking hotels.

  15. Posted January 4, 2013 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Blogging is considered to be politics, not work.

    But I consider that blogs of this quality are of tremendous value to the quality of our democracy. I think we should look at drawing up standards for blogs so that MPs who adhere to those standards can get help and support in running blogs.

    • Posted January 4, 2013 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

      and I’m happy to help in any way I can in that process.

      • zorro
        Posted January 4, 2013 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

        I think that John seems to like the personal touch with his blog. I seem to recall that he received some interest from advertisers but declined. It is good to see that this blog supports guide dogs for the blind, and is a place for erudition/exchanges of views and not Mammon….

        zorro

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted January 6, 2013 at 2:05 am | Permalink

      No, keep the State out of politics (and let the private sector create the jobs).

  16. forthurst
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    “Some work longer hours than others. Some achieve more in an hour than others do.”

    Modesty, prevents JR from invoking these statements on his own behalf, although I am certain both are true.

    People’s capacity for positive achievement through work is extremely variable. That is why Cameron’s quotas for women for parliament or the boardroom are wholly misconceived. People should be judged as individuals, not as representatives of sexes or ethnic groups with claims to particular jobs on the basis of quotas. The use of quotas is in all cases being used to disadvantage English males by giving positive preference to those purely on the basis of their being of the other. This tactic is being used in the USA by a malevolent ingroup to destroy the cultural basis of the country and ensure that on every international measure of performance, it continues to slip down the scales.

    People who work in groups are aware of who are reliable, who have special expertise, who are to be avoided and who are obviously there to fill quotas. The go-to individual is not determined by sex or ethnicity, but his knowledge and intellect. Let’s stop pretending that the country will run better when working hours have been changed to suit women, exams have been degraded so as not to fail those who are not English, that in judging performance, allowance should be made for the sensibilites of women or minorities.

    As to the work performance of Conservative MPs as a group, they have been signally less successful over the years in conserving this country to the satisfaction of their supporters, than their opposation has been in trashing it. The main reason for that is the congenital stupidity of many of their leaders over the years and the treason of those who have posed as Conservatives when their objectives are anything but.

  17. uanime5
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    I’d say something is work if you get paid while doing it and unpaid overtime if you can’t claim for it.

    In other news the Government is claiming that a real term cut in benefits (effecting the two third of people on benefits who work) isn’t a bad thing because of the Lib Dem’s scheme for raising personal allowances. Unfortunately this doesn’t apply to the millions of people who work part time but earn less than the personal allowance, or millions more people who will lose more due to the benefit cuts than they will gain from an increased personal allowance. It seems that strivers on low salaries are being penalised by a Government that is planning to give a huge tax cut to the richest 1%.

    Unsure how a strategy of impoverishing the masses so the wealthy can have more money is going to help them win the next election.

    • Mactheknife
      Posted January 4, 2013 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

      Oh dear oh dear. Many people prefer to work part time – my wife being one of them. Its a choice they make and of course working part time they dont pay tax anyway in the vast majority of cases ! Increasing the personal allowance will ensure those who want to work longer can do so with being penalised.

      Of course the problem for you Uanime5 and the left in general is that you really hate the concept of strivers and that people who work hard, study, train and try to better themselves and their families. Its the politics of envy – “I cant have it so you cant either”.

      Isn’t it time you went back to whinging and whining on the Indie forum ?

      • uanime5
        Posted January 5, 2013 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

        The problem is that those who are earning up to the personal allowance and claiming benefits will be worse off when benefits are cut. Especially if they can’t work longer hours.

        Cameron’s reforms will cut benefit for those who work (the strivers), resulting in them being worse off. It won’t help strivers or encourage people to improve themselves. It is more likely to discourage people as it will reduce the financial difference between working and not working.

        It seems that the right only approve of those who make large amounts of money and is intent on throwing as many obstacles in the way of low paid strivers as possible.

  18. Bazman
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    The question is what is work. Now if you work in a factory or some other lowly job the work occurs there and only there at least as far as I’m concerned. The contract says 40 hours so all other work outside these hours is overtime. Say the word. Over-Time. Which means it must be paid at a premium say time and a half. No premium no overtime. The same applying to bank holidays. The managers in these businesses see the weekend and bank holidays as sacred and refuse to work them often even if they are paid overtime and ‘work’ from home via the phone claiming that talking on the phone is work whilst pressurising anyone who does not want to work overtime that they are working for free. Of course this was rammed by anyone with any sense. The companies soon realised that many of the East Europeans where desperate and took any hours given to them. Hence the idea that they are somehow more ‘flexible than the British in their idea of work at least in the lower end of employment.

    • Edward
      Posted January 4, 2013 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

      Do you live in some off shore time warp Baz ?!
      I would recognise your description of managers sat at home and the workers toiling away in a factory on overtime rates as being more like the seventies or perhaps even the eighties.
      But today managers and workers in all the companies I know are all doing double or triple shift systems or seven day rolling week shift systems or are on a yearly hours based system.

    • oldtimer
      Posted January 4, 2013 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

      You should check out the arrangements in Germany to cope with downturns. Companies like BMW and Daimler Benz have developed interesting schemes to provide a measure of protection for employees. Honda also introduced an innovative scheme a couple of years ago to cope with a collapse of demand. JRL introduced the idea of the annual contract for new hires when recruitung for the third shift at Halewood. These companies and their employees recognise the new realities if you want to sell around the world. Old thinking and attitudes just won`t cut it.

      • Bazman
        Posted January 5, 2013 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

        Advanced companies. Many on this site want a return to the 1900’s.

      • uanime5
        Posted January 5, 2013 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

        One thing you didn’t mention is that in Germany the government is prepared to pay a percentage of an employee’s salary as long as the company cuts salaries rather than fires employees. This ensure that employee spending in the economy isn’t greatly reduced during periods of low demand.

  19. Mactheknife
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    In todays world work takes many forms but I find that work is still defined traditionally as a number of hours per week with set tasks by most people I know. I work for a major international company in a senior role , not CXO level, but senior nonetheless. For me there is no such thing as a working week or a set number of hours. Having a global role I’m on call 7 days a week answering phone calls and emails at the weekend and when on holiday, much to the annoyance of my family or when I take conference calls in the early hours (2 or 3 am) with one of our overseas offices. My brother says I have it “easy” as he has a manual job but of course when I point out he works 37.5 hours a week and has no reseponsibilities for finances, staff, projects etc and has no obligations across weekends etc. he doesn’t like it of course.

    I beleive that most MP’s put in significant time and effort on behalf of their constituents and need to do many things as part of this. The current MP bashing due to the expenses scandals gives the impression that all MP’s are rent seekers, fraudsters and scivers.

    • zorro
      Posted January 4, 2013 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

      The problem with MPs is that some do demonstrably less than other MPs who are paid the same wage……Their only boss is the one who elects them every five years.

      zorro

  20. Mark W
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Although my faith in the decisions of MPs and the more frequent handing of decison making to commissions and other bodies to avoid being responsible for a decision is annoying, I still believe that MPs are underpaid and overworked. I believe that they generally must enjoy the high demand on their time, but it is still not appreciated by the public as it should be.

  21. Tony Houghton
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    I think, John, that like a serviceman you are at work 24 hours a day unless you are on holiday, or in the case of a serviceman, leave. In my time in the RAF I was often working 24/7, if you count the sleeping watch we did, where you had to respond, at times, in the middle of the night. I believe this type of work that both an MP and a service man does is a vocation and most of us thoroughly enjoy it, because we chose it. On balance, I think you are one of the few MPs who works hardest than most. Keep up the good work!

  22. David Langley
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    All servicemen and women work 24/7 whenever the need arises, they are not paid overtime or get a bonus. The job could get you killed or badly maimed. When your contract is up you are a hero at 2359 and a nothing at 0001.
    On operations and active service you are toast if your luck runs out and when the country needs you you are a hero, when not you are an expensive item and culled accordingly.
    If you get perks in your job you are a civvy.

  23. Terry
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    Spoken like a politician but not a factory worker.

    A factory worker “works” to a principle and a time schedule laid down by the Management. The Management, in turn, pay the worker for his time in complying with the principle and the schedule they have determined.

    The Tax Payers, hereto the Management, always provide the salaries and expenses , regardless of the performance of the MPs.
    And the Tax Payers have no say in just what criteria those MP’s should classify as ‘work’.

    It occurs to me that MPs should work to a ‘piece-work’ regime whereby they only receive fees for what they actually do.
    Of course, prior to any selection and appointment, ‘work ‘ and ‘results’ would have to be defined, very clearly.

    Additionally, it would, in the name of efficiency, be very helpful to the country if the same principles were adopted for the remuneration of Civil Servants. This country needs, desperately, to cut its costs. Happy New Year!

  24. Gewyne
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    I’d like to know how many hours Gordon Brown is putting in as a MP – I suspect he is not being much value for money, but being a MP (or ex PM) obviously opens so many lucrative doors it’s no wonder many almost relegate the MP aspect in pursuit of other riches – after all for many being a MP is fleeting – the stacks of cash/appointments/contacts however will last you a lifetime.

  25. Jon
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    Where do we work out the problems, cogitate and procrastinate, where are the ideas developed? When does the planning take place for the Monday morning meeting or the second thoughts on a decision. When you leave work work when do the gaps of the working day appear in your mind and when do you jot down what needs starting on the next day. Who has got out of bed to jot down an idea or thing to do?

  26. Vanessa
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

    Some very interesting comments here and I would say most of these people’s experience of work makes a mockery of the EU Working Time Directive. They do not seem to be able to cobble together anything which works in the real world, but more often is destructive in the real world, ie. the time doctors are “on call” (often sleep for 85% of this “on call”) has to be included in the 48 hours per week which is making rotas impossible and causing cuts in hospital services.

    • uanime5
      Posted January 5, 2013 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

      Since when has exploiting junior doctors resulted in a good service. A tired doctor is a dangerous doctor.

      Also every other European country works just fine with doctors “only” working 48 hours per week, so it seems that this does work in the real world.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood has been the Member of Parliament for Wokingham since 1987. First attending Kent College, Canterbury, he graduated from Magdalen College, and has a DPhil from All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.
    Published and promoted by Thomas Puddy for John Redwood, both of 30 Rose Street Wokingham RG40 1XU
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