Don't ban second jobs urges Tory MP Sir Peter Tapsell

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Media captionSir Peter Tapsell warns that restricting the work that MPs can do would result in parliament being filled with "obsessive crackpots".

Banning MPs from having second jobs would result in the House of Commons being dominated by "obsessive crackpots".

That tongue-in-cheek comment was made by the veteran Conservative MP Sir Peter Tapsell, who represents Louth and Horncastle.

Speaking at Prime Minister's Questions, Sir Peter said: "If people in this House are not allowed to have a second job, membership will soon be largely confined to the inheritors of substantial fortunes."

And he added that Westminster politics might become a magnet to "those who are unemployable elsewhere".

Many Conservative MPs agree with Sir Peter and argue the Commons is a better place for having a variety of members with active roles in the real world.

David Cameron said it was good to have MPs with "different experiences".

But most figures on the Labour side disagree and would like to see tough new curbs on MPs having second jobs.

Public trust

Ed Miliband has called for a ban on MPs holding paid directorships and consultancies.

The Labour leader said new rules were necessary to "restore public trust" in politics, following the latest so-called cash-for-access scandal.

Former Foreign Secretaries Jack Straw and Sir Malcolm Rifkind have denied any wrongdoing after being secretly recorded apparently offering their services to a private company for cash.

Labour's motion was defeated in the Commons, but the party has promised to revisit the issue in the next parliament.

Meanwhile, Sir Peter Tapsell will retire from his "first job" in May after more than half a century as an MP. He was first elected in 1959.

Sir Peter is currently listed in the House of Commons Register of Members' Financial Interests as an adviser to a Japanese bank.

Many MPs privately admit their basic annual salary of £67,060 is not enough, despite widespread public opposition to them being paid more.

MPs' pay and expenses is now the responsibility of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA).