'Find a different job' - MP's remark to those grumbling over hours

Conservative MP for Shipley, Philip Davies.
Conservative MP for Shipley, Philip Davies.

MEMBERS OF Parliament who want to work regular hours should get a different kind of job, a Yorkshire politician claims.

Philip Davies has criticised colleagues who want to change the hours of Parliament to make them more family-friendly, by saying an MP's work will never be 9 to 5.

The Conservative member for Shipley said if people preferred those set hours, then they should look for a different job.

He urged Deputy Commons Leader Therese Coffey to dismiss calls for change after MPs asked for earlier starts on a Tuesday and Wednesday morning.

Mr Davies, who claims he would work all through the night if he had to, said: “We are here to represent our constituents and that does not happen in a set nine hours a day. It is our choice to be an MP and we know what the job entails.

“I would be happy to sit all night. It’s serious business passing laws – it’s not just like any other job and nor should it be. If people don’t like that, they need to find a different job.”

Some MPs want the Commons to sit at the earlier time of 9.30am on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and in a debate this week SNP MP Martyn Day said his colleagues are currently having to work unreasonable and ‘family unfriendly hours’.

However, Mr Davies believes that any change would only benefit people in the South East who commute to work as the majority of MPs remain in London until returning to their constituencies on a Friday or Saturday.

He dismissed calls for Friday’s work to be scheduled instead for a Tuesday night so members can always ensure they get back to their constituencies.

Mr Davies added: “For debates on assisted dying and the EU Referendum Bill there were more than 300 people here on a Friday to debate those issues, so if people want to turn up on a Friday they are perfectly capable of doing so.”

Ms Coffey said working hours have been debated extensively and were decided upon in the last Parliament.

She added that MPs should decide themselves ‘how they wish to fulfil their role’ on a Friday and if they want to be in Westminster, they can be.

In terms of family-friends hours she said ‘there are probably 650 different opinions on what constitutes something family-friendly’.

However, Labour’s Rupa Huq MP, who has spoken publicly about the battle between working in Westminster and seeing her 11-year-old son, said that more should be done to make Parliament better for family life.

She said: “We preach this every day, but it doesn’t apply for MPs. These crazy, mad hours don’t help anyone.”

Current sitting times go back to an era when MPs did not get paid and they would work during the day and attend Parliament at night, Leeds North East MP Fabian Hamilton said.

He said: “I can’t see why we can’t have more flexible hours. There’s nothing engraved in tablets of stone to stop us changing.”