UK Politics

New MPs 'struggle' with long hours and workload

Houses of Parliament
Image caption The report suggests some MPs have struggled to adapt to their new roles

New MPs are finding the combination of long hours and a heavy workload a struggle, and worry the job is harming their family lives, research suggests.

A survey by the Hansard Society of the 227 MPs elected for the first time in 2010 suggest the new intake are working an average of 69 hours a week.

One said the demands of Westminster and constituency work had a "devastating" impact on their private life.

MPs' hours were changed in 2005 because they were not "family friendly".

The chamber decided to start its proceedings earlier on some days amid complaints that long hours and post-midnight finishes were putting off many people from becoming MPs.

But the man who oversees the parliamentary expenses system has said the Commons schedule - which includes 2.30pm-10.00pm sessions on Monday and Tuesday - remains "idiosyncratic" and moving to more regular working hours could save money.

Last year saw an above-average number of newcomers to the Commons after a swathe of former MPs were either forced to stand down, following revelations about their expenses, or chose to retire.

Twin demands

Political research body the Hansard Society canvassed all the new MPs - about a quarter of whom responded - about their experiences during their first year in Parliament.

It found that the "vast number" believed the job - which requires MPs to divide their time between Parliament and their constituency - was having a "detrimental" effect on their private lives.

While most MPs had expected to work a 60-hour week, on average they were doing nine hours more.

The respondents said they spent more time on constituency casework than any other matter and that they passed 63% of their time in Westminster compared to 37% in their consituency.

The new MPs also expressed dissatisfaction with how the new expenses system was working - with 79% saying they were not happy with how the independent watchdog Ipsa was performing.

MPs have complained the new system is too "costly and bureaucratic" and last month voted for it to be reviewed - although Ipsa has said the principles of independent oversight and greater transparency cannot be changed.

'MPs' well-being'

The Hansard Society, which conducted similar research after the 2005 general election, said it was too early to say whether these concerns would make any MPs reconsider their future in Parliament and their political ambitions.

But Matt Korris, who compiled the report, said it provided an insight into the challenges faced by MPs.

"We need effective MPs in order for Parliament and our system of representative democracy to function successfully," he said.

"These findings underscore the need for a review of the role of MPs, not just to build an improved political system, but for the very well-being of MPs themselves."

The report also suggests that more than half of the new MPs took a pay cut when they entered Parliament.

MPs earn a salary of £65,738 and voted to forgo a 1% pay rise this year.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites